The 25 best football books to get you through self-isolation

  • Kat Lucas

Experts are predicting it could be six months before life returns to normal amid the coronavirus crisis. That's an awfully long time without football. 

Fortunately, we are all students of the game even when we're not watching or playing it.

The current hiatus is a great chance to brush up on your history, tactical knowledge, or simply to get better acquainted with your heroes. 

So here's the challenge. A book a week. The prize? Returning triumphant to the pub with a wave of new expert knowledge when all this is over. 

To make it easier, GIVEMESPORT have compiled a list of our favourites to get you started.

The Barcelona Legacy: Guardiola, Mourinho and the Fight For Football's Soul - Jonathan Wilson 

To understand all the politics going on behind the scenes at Barcelona, you have to understand where the club's identity comes from. Wilson charts the influence of Johann Cruyff on modern Barcelona and gives unrivalled detail on the rivalry between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho - including why the latter was turned down for the top job. 


How to be a Footballer - Peter Crouch

Since retiring, Crouchie has proved himself to be comedy gold with his podcasts and TV appearances. His books are no different, packed full of brilliant anecdotes on everything from tattoos to transfers. An honest look at what it's really like to be a professional footballer. 


Klopp: Bring the Noise - Raphael Honigstein

Think you know Klopp inside out? German journalist Raphael Honigstein has exclusive access to former players, colleagues, friends and family to provide the most in-depth depiction of the Liverpool boss yet. 


I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan quotes are priceless, even a few words at a time. A whole book in the great man's words is spectacular. 


Andrea Pirlo: I Think, Therefore I Play

Probably the coolest man in football. The Italian famously said he felt no pressure before the World Cup final and spent the day playing PlayStation. His book's an even better insight into that mentality. 


Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography

Ferguson has a whole library of fascinating autobiographies, but this is arguably his best. Its most recent edition came out in 2013, just after he had retired as Manchester United manager. 


Eibar the Brave: The Extraordinary Rise of La Liga's Smallest Team - Euan McTear 

We all love a classic underdog story. Eibar battle it against the odds with a 5000-seater ground against the likes of Barca and Real Madrid. This is the story of how. 


Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona vs Real Madrid - Sid Lowe

We all like to think we're well-versed enough in the recent history of El Clásico. Lowe's book gives a history lesson dating back decades and delves into how Spanish politics has shaped the most explosive derby in Europe. 


Trautmann's Journey: From Hitler Youth to FA Cup Legend - Catrine Clay

Bert Trautmann ended up at Manchester City after becoming a Prisoner of War and is most famous for playing 14 minutes of the FA Cup final with a broken neck. It's one of the most extraordinary stories in football history. 


The method behind the madness. Barton's colourful side hasn't really dimmed even now he's a leader of men at Fleetwood. He's also quite the amateur philosopher and his book might change your opinion of him. 


The Club: How the English Premier League Became the Wildest, Richest, Most Disruptive Force in Sports - Joshua Robinson, Jonathan Clegg 

The English game was lagging in the dark ages before it was transformed into the glitz and glamour of the Premier League. As much about the business behind the top flight as the game itself, football didn't start in 1992, but it's never been the same since. 


Can We Have Our Football Back? How the Premier League is Ruining Football and What We can do about it - John Nicholson

For the cynics among us, a dash of nostalgia mixed into a genuinely well-thought-out attack on the very worst of the Premier League, its absurd wages, its lack of competition and everything that's wrong with modern football. 


Messi - Guillem Balague 

No list would be complete without a tribute to the GOAT, freshly updated to include the story of Messi's 2018 World Cup. Balague reminisces about the Argentine's upbringing in Rosario, his very best years at Barcelona, before finally looking to the final years of his glorious career.


No Hunger In Paradise: The Players. The Journey. The Dream - Michael Calvin 

A sobering account of the fact that just 0.012% of the boys playing organised football in England every year will go on to become a Premier League professional. What happens when the dream comes crashing down? Calvin's book struck a chord at the very highest level when it was released in 2017. 


Natural: The Jimmy Greaves Story - David Tossell 

The story of the greatest English striker of all time. Greavsie's phenomenal career with Chelsea, AC Milan, Tottenham and West Ham was recalled earlier this year on BT Sport's documentary, which means he's finally getting the recognition he deserves.


My Turn: The Autobiography - Johann Cruyff 

My Turn tells the story of one of the greatest ever, traversing spells at Ajax and Barcelona and exploring how his life in Amsterdam would go on to influence not just his own playing style, but his impact on football for decades to come. 


Maradona: The Autobiography of Soccer's Greatest and Most Controversial Star - Diego Maradona 

An inevitably wild ride, there may be some debate about whether Maradona is the greatest ever, but nobody will argue with the latter part of the title. 


The Deal: Inside the World of a Super Agent - Jon Smith 

As much as the world has become fascinated with Jorge Mendes and Mino Raiola in recent years, very little is known about what really goes on behind the scenes. Smith is on a mission to change that. 


The passages about Alan Shearer alone are well worth a read. Owen's autobiography was refreshingly honest, detailing his bitter rivalries with other players and what really led to some of his controversial transfers that caused uproar among fans.  


Yet another Balague masterclass. His analysis of Guardiola was released right when the Catalan was still at the peak of his powers and revealed the extraordinary training methods the legendary coach had pioneered at Barcelona. 


A look at the meticulous planning behind Germany's transformation to World champions in 2014 and how Die Mannschaft irrevocably changed their style of play to win admirers around the world. 


Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics - Jonathan Wilson 

Football's tactical revolution is traced from the very beginnings of the game, through its pioneers in England, Scotland, and as far afield as Hungary. 


Fifty Years of Hurt: The Story of England Football and Why We Never Stop Believing - Henry Winter 

With no Euro 2020 to look forward to, there's still a whole summer to dwell on the agony of being an England fan with The Times' Henry Winter. 


The Special One: The Dark Side of Jose Mourinho

Now, it's worth taking some of the more outlandish claims in the book - like Mourinho strutting around Real Madrid training topless and installing cardboard cutouts of himself in his office - with a pinch of salt. 


Hamilton reported on Nottingham Forest during Clough's rollercoaster reign and got as good a glimpse of the man himself as any. From his glorious European success to the tragedy of alcoholism, Provided You Don't Kiss Me is the best of many accounts of Cloughie's complex life. 


If you manage to get through them all, you'll have a better knowledge of the game than ever before. 

Be sure to let us know if we've missed any classics out. 

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