Soccer Men: Profiles of the Rogues, Geniuses, and Neurotics Who Dominate the World's Most Popular Sport

Soccer Men: Profiles of the Rogues, Geniuses, and Neurotics Who Dominate the World's Most Popular Sport

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by Simon Kuper
     
 

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In his national bestseller, Soccernomics, Simon Kuper pioneered a new way of looking at soccer, the world’s most popular game, through his witty and meticulous use of data. In Soccer Men, Kuper explores the heart and soul of the sport by getting up close and personal with soccer’s greatest players and coaches. An inquiry into the geniusSee more details below

Overview


In his national bestseller, Soccernomics, Simon Kuper pioneered a new way of looking at soccer, the world’s most popular game, through his witty and meticulous use of data. In Soccer Men, Kuper explores the heart and soul of the sport by getting up close and personal with soccer’s greatest players and coaches. An inquiry into the genius and hubris of the modern game, Soccer Men details the lives of international stars such as Arsène Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Josep Guardiola, Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, and David Beckham, describing their upbringings, the soccer cultures they grew up in, the way they play or coach, and the baggage they bring to their relationships at work.

In this updated edition, Kuper profiles Hope Solo, Raymond Domenech, Andrea Agnelli, Robin van Persie, Carlo Ancelotti, and more. He also provides a brilliant comparison of two tales of immigrant life: Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint and the autobiography of Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The Herald (UK)
“Kuper always listens, but only rarely quotes verbatim.  The [athlete] is a subject rather than a talking head.  This approach produces an excellent result… his sureness of purpose allows him to devote his energies to producing something regularly insightful and sometimes very, very funny.”

FourFourTwo Magazine(UK)
“Hugely enjoyable…Kuper’s knowledge of the global game is second only to the vitality of his writing.”
 
The New Yorker, Book Bench Blog
“[S]prightly, skeptical, and vastly informative… Style, in soccer as in prose, is less the product of “personal expression” than of poise, discipline, patience, and infinite care. . . . Watching Messi or Lampard (or any of the players included in “Soccer Men”) after reading Kuper is a bit like going back to Shakespeare’s sonnets after reading Helen Vendler’s book on them. He turns us into more alert, more intelligent, more grateful spectators of the beautiful game.”

Mother Jones
“Kuper’s effortless wit and keen sense of irony make Soccer Men well worth the read.”

Alan Black, San Francisco Chronicle
“Simon Kuper’s new book, Soccer Men, gains insight into the personalities of some of soccer’s most important players and coaches with a few extras from outside the sport thrown in….Kuper is a rare breed of writer. His international upbringing conditioned his understanding of variety in the world’s most popular sport. His soccer networks across national boundaries and his access inside the game are impressive. There is no better anthropologist’s eye analyzing the game today.”

Globe and Mail (Canada)
“Eccentric but vastly enjoyable… Kuper observes, analyzes, takes notes at a press conference, reads the player’s autobiography and writes deftly incisive portraits. It’s a wise approach; most pro sports players have little to say and it’s the doing that makes them interesting, not their explanation of it.”

Library Journal
“Hot on the excitement over the 2011 women’s World Cup comes Kuper’s latest soccer gem… Kuper’s easy interview style hides few flaws and creates some memorable moments... Kuper is one of the world’s leading soccer authors, which reinforces the highly recommended verdict here. With appeal beyond soccer fans.”

ESPN Soccernet
“Kuper offers a comprehensive critique of the modern footballer and tones down the holy distinctions, unreal expectations, and tabloid sensationalisms that we have reserved for the game’s world-beaters. Soccer Men finely demonstrates that the characters who occupy the highest pedestal in football’s collective imagination are ordinary men and successful professionals who all grew up playing and watching a lot of football. . . . Soccer Men is a significant collection of profiles precisely because it provides a contemporary, realistic portrait of the men who dominate our most beloved sport.”

Publishers Weekly
“[Kuper employs] eloquent criticism and biting wit in profiling everyone from legendary Argentine player/partier turned national coach Diego Maradona (“the fat cigar smoker and former cocaine addict with the geriatric’s heart”) to David Beckham (“an Andy Warhol painting come to life”) to baseball executive Billy Beane, whose moneyball tactics have found their way into professional soccer.”

Booklist
“[Kuper] has both keen insight into the game and a gift for getting it across.”

Financial Times
“No one else writing in the UK has tracked the careers of footballers and managers in Kuper’s fashion. He knows and cares about their family backgrounds, education and early years. He also has a rare international perspective, drawn from decades of travel around the continent and the ability to speak and read in several tongues. The chapter dissecting the ghosted autobiographies of Messrs Carragher, Cole, Gerrard, Lampard and Rooney is a masterful piece of literary criticism.”

Time Out, UK
“In his latest book, football’s finest writer [Kuper] turns his attention to succinct profiles of the great and good… As well as captivating profiles, there are some revealing interviews.”

The Independent, UK
“What is exceptional is Kuper’s insightful view of their [footballers’] world and the managers who attempt to control it… [Kuper’s] judgements are often revisionist, always well argued. If you’re looking for sleaze and sensation, this isn’t the book for you; but if stylish profiles written with wit and humour are your thing, you won’t be disappointed.”

The Irish Times, Ireland
“[Kuper] has been an astute observer of the game at both club and international level. He has an anthropologist’s eye for the telling detail, he wields a dark, deadpan humour, and he writes like a dream.”

Irish Examiner
“Britain’s most respected football writer gets up close and personal with some of the gods of the beautiful game. Kuper eschews titillating gossip for a look at how these ordinary men operate in an extraordinary, closeted world, often bringing everyday worries to their workplace.”

Birmingham Post (UK)
“Kuper’s assured hand enables him to examine footballers, managers, even stadium architects and football-loving actors from a refreshingly unique perspective. He is less interested in regurgitating predictable, PR-disinfected football-speak and more focused on treating his interviewees as subjects in their own right. It makes for a fascinating read which leaves you wondering why has no-one tried this before…Kuper succeeds in adding a classy continental polish to an extremely pleasurable read which leaves the reader wanting more.”

STV Blog (Scotland)
“[The Football Men] profiles some of the best players of the modern era, but with an insight few can match.”

The Boston Globe
“Soccer fans and fans of sharp writing and quick, dead-on profiles can be grateful that Kuper didn’t earlier tire of the chase.”

Alan Black, San Francisco Chronicle
“Simon Kuper’s new book, Soccer Men, gains insight into the personalities of some of soccer’s most important players and coaches with a few extras from outside the sport thrown in….Kuper is a rare breed of writer. His international upbringing conditioned his understanding of variety in the world’s most popular sport. His soccer networks across national boundaries and his access inside the game are impressive. There is no better anthropologist’s eye analyzing the game today.”

Bleacher Report (online)
“Cynical yet truly brilliant.”

Library Journal
Hot on the excitement over the 2011 women's World Cup comes Kuper's latest soccer gem (published in the UK as Football Men), this one featuring insights into the game's prominent men—players, managers, and a handful of others. Well qualified, Kuper (Financial Times; coauthor, Soccernomics) delivers profiles, many previously published in the Financial Times and other newspapers, of some 70 men of soccer. The players reflect on their lives away from the pitch and reveal the human side of the sport's most recognizable names—David Beckham, Franz Beckenbauer, Eric Cantona, and Zinedine Zidane. Soccer remains the central theme, but Kuper's easy interview style hides few flaws and creates some memorable moments such as those with Nicolas Anelka and Freddy Adu. An afternoon with English manager Glenn Hoddle produced a remarkable interview. Where appropriate, Kuper adds a brief postscript for an update. VERDICT Kuper is one of the world's leading soccer authors, which reinforces the highly recommended VERDICT here. With appeal beyond soccer fans.—Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., AL

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781568584584
Publisher:
Nation Books
Publication date:
04/22/2014
Edition description:
Second Edition, Second Edition
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
528,218
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
The Herald (UK)
“Kuper always listens, but only rarely quotes verbatim.  The [athlete] is a subject rather than a talking head.  This approach produces an excellent result… his sureness of purpose allows him to devote his energies to producing something regularly insightful and sometimes very, very funny.”

FourFourTwo Magazine(UK)
“Hugely enjoyable…Kuper’s knowledge of the global game is second only to the vitality of his writing.” The New Yorker, Book Bench Blog
“[S]prightly, skeptical, and vastly informative… Style, in soccer as in prose, is less the product of “personal expression” than of poise, discipline, patience, and infinite care. . . . Watching Messi or Lampard (or any of the players included in “Soccer Men”) after reading Kuper is a bit like going back to Shakespeare’s sonnets after reading Helen Vendler’s book on them. He turns us into more alert, more intelligent, more grateful spectators of the beautiful game.”

Mother Jones
“Kuper’s effortless wit and keen sense of irony make Soccer Men well worth the read.”

Alan Black, San Francisco Chronicle
“Simon Kuper’s new book, Soccer Men, gains insight into the personalities of some of soccer’s most important players and coaches with a few extras from outside the sport thrown in….Kuper is a rare breed of writer. His international upbringing conditioned his understanding of variety in the world’s most popular sport. His soccer networks across national boundaries and his access inside the game are impressive. There is no better anthropologist’s eye analyzing the game today.”

Globe and Mail (Canada)
“Eccentric but vastly enjoyable… Kuper observes, analyzes, takes notes at a press conference, reads the player’s autobiography and writes deftly incisive portraits. It’s a wise approach; most pro sports players have little to say and it’s the doing that makes them interesting, not their explanation of it.”

Library Journal
“Hot on the excitement over the 2011 women’s World Cup comes Kuper’s latest soccer gem… Kuper’s easy interview style hides few flaws and creates some memorable moments... Kuper is one of the world’s leading soccer authors, which reinforces the highly recommended verdict here. With appeal beyond soccer fans.”

ESPN Soccernet
“Kuper offers a comprehensive critique of the modern footballer and tones down the holy distinctions, unreal expectations, and tabloid sensationalisms that we have reserved for the game’s world-beaters. Soccer Men finely demonstrates that the characters who occupy the highest pedestal in football’s collective imagination are ordinary men and successful professionals who all grew up playing and watching a lot of football. . . . Soccer Men is a significant collection of profiles precisely because it provides a contemporary, realistic portrait of the men who dominate our most beloved sport.”

Publishers Weekly
“[Kuper employs] eloquent criticism and biting wit in profiling everyone from legendary Argentine player/partier turned national coach Diego Maradona (“the fat cigar smoker and former cocaine addict with the geriatric’s heart”) to David Beckham (“an Andy Warhol painting come to life”) to baseball executive Billy Beane, whose moneyball tactics have found their way into professional soccer.”

Booklist
“[Kuper] has both keen insight into the game and a gift for getting it across.”

Financial Times
“No one else writing in the UK has tracked the careers of footballers and managers in Kuper’s fashion. He knows and cares about their family backgrounds, education and early years. He also has a rare international perspective, drawn from decades of travel around the continent and the ability to speak and read in several tongues. The chapter dissecting the ghosted autobiographies of Messrs Carragher, Cole, Gerrard, Lampard and Rooney is a masterful piece of literary criticism.”

Time Out, UK
“In his latest book, football’s finest writer [Kuper] turns his attention to succinct profiles of the great and good… As well as captivating profiles, there are some revealing interviews.”

The Independent, UK
“What is exceptional is Kuper’s insightful view of their [footballers’] world and the managers who attempt to control it… [Kuper’s] judgements are often revisionist, always well argued. If you’re looking for sleaze and sensation, this isn’t the book for you; but if stylish profiles written with wit and humour are your thing, you won’t be disappointed.”

The Irish Times, Ireland
“[Kuper] has been an astute observer of the game at both club and international level. He has an anthropologist’s eye for the telling detail, he wields a dark, deadpan humour, and he writes like a dream.”

Irish Examiner
“Britain’s most respected football writer gets up close and personal with some of the gods of the beautiful game. Kuper eschews titillating gossip for a look at how these ordinary men operate in an extraordinary, closeted world, often bringing everyday worries to their workplace.”

Birmingham Post (UK)
“Kuper’s assured hand enables him to examine footballers, managers, even stadium architects and football-loving actors from a refreshingly unique perspective. He is less interested in regurgitating predictable, PR-disinfected football-speak and more focused on treating his interviewees as subjects in their own right. It makes for a fascinating read which leaves you wondering why has no-one tried this before…Kuper succeeds in adding a classy continental polish to an extremely pleasurable read which leaves the reader wanting more.”

STV Blog (Scotland)
“[The Football Men] profiles some of the best players of the modern era, but with an insight few can match.”

The Boston Globe
“Soccer fans and fans of sharp writing and quick, dead-on profiles can be grateful that Kuper didn’t earlier tire of the chase.”

Alan Black, San Francisco Chronicle
“Simon Kuper’s new book, Soccer Men, gains insight into the personalities of some of soccer’s most important players and coaches with a few extras from outside the sport thrown in….Kuper is a rare breed of writer. His international upbringing conditioned his understanding of variety in the world’s most popular sport. His soccer networks across national boundaries and his access inside the game are impressive. There is no better anthropologist’s eye analyzing the game today.”

Bleacher Report (online)
“Cynical yet truly brilliant.”

Read More

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