The Big Book of Football

The Big Book of Football
Mundial and Damien Weighill
Wide Eyed

I have several young relations who are ardent fans of the game and have taught countless soccer-mad children but  I have to own up to knowing very little about football and never watch it either live or on TV. However I know that this large format book will excite, entertain and perhaps educate a huge number of readers, be they football mad or merely somewhat interested in ‘the beautiful game’.

In over 100 pages, international soccer magazine Mundial has put fascinating facts to ponder and everything you need to know to talk about or play a good game of footie.

Divided into ten sections the book kicks off with two spreads dealing with the basics and the lingo, including illustrated definitions of such skills as nutmeg, cross and dribble, an explanation of the offside rule, red and yellow cards and such strange expressions as park the bus and Fergie time.

The History of Football includes a timeline and traces the origins of the game through to the 2019 Women’s World Cup, which was watched by an estimated 1 billion people; there’s also a look at the evolution of boots

and the all-important ball.

Next comes Mundial’s pick of a ‘superteam’ of legendary players from history, both men and women with a short, illustrated biography of each player.

Of particular interest to aspiring players will be the masterclass How to … section giving instructions on iconic moves such as How to take the perfect shot like Ji So-YunHow to take the perfect set piece like David Beckham and How to do nutmeg like Luis Suárez

Weird and Wonderful the final section surely is with its look at some strange haircuts, celebratory gestures, and other bits and pieces of soccer stuff that make it SO much more than a mere game. All are illustrated with Damien Weighill’s bright graphics making for an informative and entertaining resource book to dip in and out of at home or in school.

Football Fantasies

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Wonder Goal!
Michael Foreman
Andersen Press pbk
All the boys in newcomer to the team’s story, dream that impossible dream of becoming famous footballers, but none more so he who has just had his shoelaces tied together, the teasing all those new to the squad are subjected to.
The tale begins one Sunday with a Lowry-like portrayal of this particular boy’s debut game on a chilly-looking pitch – one of many – in an urban neighbourhood behind which chimneys belch out filthy smoke.

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The narrative structure – both visual and verbal – is somewhat complex for, as the match starts, the story takes on a timeless ‘out of body’ dimension as it moves between the real and imagined and back and forth in time:
It was perfect.”
“Head over the ball, ”
“balance, power, timing . . .”

 

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“As soon as he kicked it, ”
“he knew it was going to be a goal.
It was a screamer.

So, one minute we are there at that first match, the next in his dad ‘s boyhood bedroom with its wall-to-wall soccer heroes, then fast forward to another wonder goal some time in the future.
The personal and impersonal sit side by side in this story. The sound of the quietly understated text has an impersonal tone whereas visually, the paintings are rich with passion and vibrancy. And, the back endpapers are frames from the author’s own sketchbooks of soccer scenes from troubled regions as far afield as the Berlin Wall

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and the Golan Heights from 1970 to the foot of Mt. Fuji in 1997 and Marseille in 1999.
With the football fascination set to be on the rise with the World Cup looming large, this is one for fans of all ages from about six upwards.
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Football Star
Mina Javaherbin and Renato Alarcao
Walker Books pbk
Set in Brazil, the story centres around a group of young children living in poverty. Their days are full of work, their heads, of dreams. These dreams, in particular those of  narrator Paulo Marcelo Feliciano who says he will lead his team to the top, bring a special energy and light to the hardships of everyday life

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and the daily evening soccer game is a treasured, shared time. Paulo Marcelo Feliciano has a younger sister Maria and they have a reciprocal arrangement: she teaches him the maths she’s learned in school, he teaches her football moves. There is one problem though; the football teams are girls only. But then comes the day when one of Paolo’s team is injured during a game: time to rethink the boys only stipulation …

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The final spread, like the story, is alight with hope, strength and the affirming lights of the hillside homes.

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Believe in yourself, listen to your heart, follow your dreams are the themes that shine forth from this empowering story.
Great World Cup reading – before and beyond.
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