'Kuper's approach is more subtle. He always listens, but only rarely quotes verbatim. The footballer 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. There are excellent pieces on legends such as Franz Beckenbauer, Diego Maradona and Romario, but the best are on the Dutch. This owes something to Kuper's Dutch past but it is indebted heavily to the Dutch footballer' The Herald 14/5 'I hate football. But the time you read this I might love it again... In his latest book, football's finest writer turns his attention to succinct profiles of the great and the good - mainly players (from longstanding legends like Cruyff and Becken bauer to current idols Messi and Fabregas) but also managers, actor Anthony Minghella and stadium architect Jacques Herzog... As well as the captivating profiles there are some revealing interviews, most notably with Glenn Hoddle, who cuts a rather sad figure reminiscing about his career as the sport keeps him at a distance, partly for being religious, a bit different and 'not one of the lads" Time Out 19/5 'This hugely enjoyable collection of Kuper's features and interviews with the pros has a leaning abroad, especially towards Holland, but it's complemented with some fine new pieces on English players including David Beckham. Kuper's knowledge of the global game is second only to the vitality of his writing' FourFourTwo Magazine June issue 'Five ages of a professional footballer...' Extract, FT Magazine 14/5 'An up-close look at some of the giants of the game, describing the football cultures they grew up in, the way they play, and the baggage they bring to work' TNT Magazine 9/5 "[Strikers] can play terribly and be praised for one goal, but defenders are hanged for one mistake" Extract, Sport Magazine 20/5 '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' Financial Times 7/5 THE FOOTBALL MEN by Simon Kuper 'As anyone who sat through a post-match interview will know, getting footballers to express themselves isn't easy. Which is why Simon Kuper's new book is so fascinating. The Football Men features intimate profiles of some of the game's biggest names - from Cantona and Maradona to Rooney and Mourinho - and throws up compelling stories and shocking revelations' Shortlist, 25/5 'Kuper has two main strengths. Born in Africa, raised in Holland and a resident of numerous American and European cities, currently Paris, he never shrinks from pricking parochial sensibilities. The British, he points out in a piece on Wayne Rooney, much prefer ugly football players to pretty ones like Beckham or Owen. At the same time, Kuper laces this weltanschauung with the devilment of an English satirist. The German lothar Matthause inhabits a particularly comic interlude. (He is obsessed with mobile phones). Equally, encounters with the likes of Rivaldo and Glenn Hoddle make one wonder how any talented player can field the attention this brings, yet remain sane in the process. Especially when confronted by reporters like Kuper who insist on asking awkward questions' The Jewish Chronicle, 20/5 '...it is a readable collection, and, as ever, Kuper is insightful and entertaining' Tribune, 27/5
The great footballers and coaches are rarely glimpsed from up close. They shield themselves from the tabloids, hide their personalities behind professionalism, and in the words of the cliché, 'do their talking on the pitch'.
This book gets up close to them. The Football Menis not a series of celebrity profiles, and it doesn't attempt to unearth secrets in the players' private lives. Rather, it portrays these men as three-dimensional human beings. It describes their upbringings, the football cultures they grew up in, the way they play, and the baggage that they bring to their relationships at work. This multimillion-pound, multinational world is mostly inhabited by ordinary men. The profiles in this book are sometimes funny, but never breathless or sensational.
Some of the profiles in this book are based on interviews; others are the results of time the author spent with that person; sometimes the profile is a story of a country. All are fascinating and shed light on their subject to reveal things you wouldn't expect.
From one of the great sports writers of our time this is a penetrating and surprising collection of articles on the figures that have defined the modern sporting world.