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

3 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books (Oct. 4 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568586876
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568586878
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #284,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


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.”

“[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.

Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Top Customer Reviews

By Rob on Jan. 29 2012
Format: Paperback
I read Soccernomics and Soccer Against the Enemy before I read this book. For me, this was a distant third! I wasn't able to sit down and read this book from start to end like the other two because it was more a collection of short stories. I found it difficult to really get into this book because of the way it was structured. As mentioned by a previous user, this would be a great bathroom book! If short stories is your thing, than I would suggest picking it up!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa26cdf3c) out of 5 stars 26 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa254239c) out of 5 stars Guaranteed to induce a smile or two Oct. 4 2011
By Paul Allaer - Published on
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! On Lothar Matthaus's rise to stardom: "The transfer of power officially took place on 17 June 1986, in the final minutes of the game against Morocco, when the Germans were given a free kick. Rummenigge was getting ready to take it when Matthaus shoved him aside and scored." Zing! And on and on. Highly recommended for any fan of the beautiful game!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa253ce10) out of 5 stars Great insight into the influential figures of the beautiful game Nov. 13 2011
By Kyle Rasmussen - Published on
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.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2542540) out of 5 stars Interesting Read.. July 21 2012
By Sesh - Published on
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.
HASH(0xa253ceac) out of 5 stars Good read for busy full-time professionals Feb. 27 2015
By Ju Yang - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book was written by a well-known soccer insider Simon Kuper. It is a compilation of articles in the past few years on various famous soccer players, club managers and other stakeholders of the Beautiful Game.

The book is organized in a way very suitable for a busy full-time professional, who can only read during squeezed 10-20 minutes here and there. Each article profiles a player or a manager. In your Kindle it will be easy to search via Table of Content. You won’t need to worry about disruption of logic of the content as it would happen for a long story or biography. What is much appreciated is that the author added additional comments on up-to-date events after most articles, some of which were published 10 years ago.

On the content, I am very surprised on how few players from Bundesliga came out. The book features way too many English players, and those connected with Dutch League. This may be attributed to the limitation of the author, who is a Dutch and work for FInancial Times for a long time. That said, the book did capture all the main characters of the Game in the past 10-15 years. In particular I enjoy reading his profiling of Kaiser: Beckenbauer, and Maradona both as player and manager. This book will be more suitable to those who at least have some sketchy idea of the famous names. For me, I find it difficult to catch his comments on certain players out of Dutch League, and only slightly easier for those in Premier League.

Thanks to the author’s journalistic background, the writing of this book is easy for the readers. The language flows smoothly and sometimes with hilarious conclusion.

Finally, as this is a compilation of articles, there is no systematic analysis on the Soccer field, economics, club-player relationship, except some insightful comments in certain articles. For readers who seek to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the Game and the industry, this book is not enough.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa25425c4) out of 5 stars Good book about the players who play the beautiful game Feb. 15 2012
By Julie L. Brown - Published on
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.