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Soccer Men: Profiles of the Rogues, Geniuses, and Neurotics Who Dominate the World's Most Popular Sport Paperback – October 4, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568586876
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568586878
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #715,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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.”

About the Author

Simon Kuper is one of the world’s leading writers on soccer. He is the coauthor of the national bestseller Soccernomics and author of Soccer Against the Enemy, which won the William Hill Prize. He is a columnist and feature writer for the Financial Times and lives in Paris.

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

I enjoyed it though and would recommend it if you love football.
Phil33
In many cases this actually may be true but it is hard to tell because he doesn't reveal much about himself (other than his harsh assessments).
Harbo
I found each article extremely interesting and fantastically insightful.
Kyle Rasmussen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
Simon Kuper, the European football-writer, co-authored one of the best football books ever 2 years ago with "Soccernomics". That book brought never-before seen insights into the game of football (a/k/a "soccer"), and what a joy it was. Now comes Kuper's next book.

Originally published in Europe earlier this year as "The Football Men: Up Close With the Giants of the Modern Game" (383 pages), it now appears on the US market as "Soccer Men: Profiles of the Rogues, Geniuses, and Neurotics Who Dominate the World's Most Popular Sport". It is important to understand that this book is mostly (but not entirely) a collection of previously published columns that Kuper wrote for a variety of publications, including of course the Financial Times for which Kuper was the weekly sports columnist for many years, but also The Observer and some Dutch publications. As an avid reader of the Financial Times I was afraid that I would recognize many of the columns but thankfully this was not the case. Nevertheless, I was somewhat apprehensive about this book. Well, I shouldn't have been.

"The Football Men" brings about 65 "short stories" (averaging about 10 pages per) on the megastars and not-quite-megastars of the game, some even getting more than one profile or story (such as the legendary Johan Cruijff). They are written with a dry, if not wry, sense of humor, and I found myself reading this with a smile on my face most of the time. In a column on Wayne Rooney: "There are two types of British footballer: ugly ones like Rooney, Paul Gascoigne and Nobby Stiles, and pretty ones like Beckham and Michael Owen. The British public usually prefers the ugly ones." Haha!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Rasmussen on November 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
Simon Kuper assembles a wonderful collection of short and typically very insightful articles that he has written in regards to some of the most influential figures in modern soccer. I found each article extremely interesting and fantastically insightful. Soccer Men provides a good look into the personalities and traits of many of the players, coaches and sporting directors that we so often view from afar, giving a glimpse into the real world that these men operate within. I found it an enjoyable, engaging and very quick read which I'm sure that I will revisit sooner rather than later.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sesh on July 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Simon Kuper is one of the best soccer writers on the planet. This book is mostly a collection of his columns; there is some original work in there as well. There is quite a bit of material from his Soccernomics book as well. I found Kuper's profile on the great Johan Cruyff to be particularly interesting. He describes meeting his childhood idol, and the subsequent interactions between them really well. I wish some of the pieces were a bit longer, but given that most of the profiles were written for newspapers and magazines, the length of the profiles are understandable. This is a good book to take on a plane / train journey or for some light reading on a beach. The profiles of the dutch players are quite detailed and interesting considering that Kuper is an expert on Dutch football.

The best thing about Simon Kuper's work is his honesty. He is quite candid about the fact that most athletes give boring interviews, and that it is pointless to spend hours chasing Wayne Rooney for a few lines of "wisdom". The top class athletes are all over-managed by PR firms, and most of they rarely say anything illuminating or interesting. This is all the more reason why Kuper's book is interesting. Kuper is not some star-struck sports writer or a sycophant; he keeps it real.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By nunuque on January 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Interesting side stories about great soccer characters, love the side note at the end of articles to update the current news regarding the particular character.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Julie L. Brown on February 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
Soccer Men is a compilation of articles written by the author about some of the players and coaches who have influenced the sport over the last fifty years. I am unsure of why certain players were omitted, most glaringly, Pele and Cristiano Ronaldo. Some portrayals are very detailed; some will leave you wanting for more. If you are unfamiliar with the player, the article may not be as interesting or the reader may not be familiar or understand the context to which the author refers; while the article on the branding and packaging of David Beckham is engrossing. At times, I felt sorry for these multimillionaire soccer players who possess a plethora of homes and women and a life that would seem enviable to the rest of us. The portrait of Wayne Rooney, almost a prisoner in his own home while not on the field, was, to me, particularly poignant and sad.

The reader is also given a glimpse of how playing professional soccer is viewed by a player--as a business--versus a fan. I have heard before, and this book reiterated for me, that it is best not to meet your idol; you will almost surely be disappointed.

I highly recommend this well-written book to anyone who wants to know more about the beautiful game and the men who play and coach it.
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By Amazon Customer on October 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An entertaining book, good to read on a summer break. It offers a glimpse in the mind of some of the well-known footballers an honestly, only an acid writer like Simon Kuper can make it such a fun reading. I would recommend it to whoever is curious how people involved in football think.
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