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Behind the Curtain Paperback – November 1, 2006
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It is also a vivid depiction of these places and the people who inhabit them, which is a nice bonus in a football book. There have been some real personalities over the years.
I recommend Behind the Curtain if you enjoy learning about this part of the world and if you like reading stories about football or sports in general.
It's so enjoyable to learn a nugget like the "Russian" linesman Tofik Bakhramov who confirmed that England's third goal in the 1966 World Cup Final did cross the line has the national stadium named after him in his native Azerbaijan. The book is filled with these and they are not just thrown in as trivia asides but are investigated and explained in entertaining details.
Here's hoping author Jonathan Wilson is working on a followup as this subject has so many more stories I'm sure to tell even as thorough a job as he did on this one.
In BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN, WILSON reveals that his English family used to vacation behind the old Iron Curtain (why?). And those holidays opened WILSON"S eyes to the different ways Football was being played. He also made contacts enabling him to travel relatively freely from country to country behind the "curtain." This became the background of BEHIND THE CURTAIN.
WILSON takes the reader on a travelogue of the crumbling Soviet Empire. Where there was once glitter and propaganda, after the fall of the wall there is now decay and dis-illusionment. And the football of the region did not escape the rot. Consider Hungary. Unbeaten from 1950 through the Championship match of the 1954 World Cup, and then another long unbeaten run until the Soviet invasion in 1956. Some of the game's greatest players like Nandor Hidegutki, Josef Boszik, Sandor Kocsis, and the incomparable Ferenc Puskas were Hungarian stars. They were The Aranyscsapat (The Golden Team). But when the players scattered across Europe the gold lost it's luster and Hungarian football decayed even faster than the county's infrastructure.
Or take the case of Russia's Edouard Steltsov. At 17 he appeared on the horizon as the game's next great superstar (like another 17 year old, Pele).Read more ›
This covers the Balkans thoroughly, Hungary, the Caucasian states, of course Ukraine + Russia, Poland and more. Weaving history and culture with football, the big picture issues with money after the fall of communism are painted brilliantly. The politics of historically politically significant Eastern European clubs are depicted wonderfully.
I wish there was more to go from here and more Wilson books available on Kindle!
Only thing is that the landscape in Russia has changed so dramatically over the past few years (see Zenit, Rubin, Terek, Anzhi), it could perhaps use a bit of an addition to the Russian section. Other than that, an amazing book!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Any sentence Jonathan writes is better than anyone elses. This is like the nteenth thing I've read of his. Very indepth.Published 12 months ago by Stephen Brandt
where else are you going to get an in depth look at the life and football in eastern europe, good readPublished on July 5, 2013 by ali
Because I'm a novice to soccer (football), I wanted to know more about soccer than just in the well-publicized country and this book does that. Read morePublished on February 19, 2013 by Dave McCallum
Extremely well-researched and educational, yet fun at the same time. Less about formations & tactics than I originally antiicipated, but still an absolute page turner with the... Read morePublished on December 28, 2011 by Eric
this is a great read if you are interested in the history of football and the stories behind the spread and growth of the game. Read morePublished on December 5, 2010 by Cruyff Fan