The Football Book

I’ve worked as a researcher/writer on all three editions of this very fine book. I almost went blind checking the endless stats throughout the 400-page title, but it does now mean I could write a mean football pub quiz (sample question: How many times have Peru qualified for World Cup finals?). I also supplied additional content including numerous player profiles as well as fresh copy for new editions.


The most curious job was providing an entire World Cup preview wallchart to a two-day deadline in December 2009 for the World Cup Final edition published in 2010. Some of my predictions six months upfront of the event proved to be… interesting. Pretty much got it right about the semi finalists thankfully.

While their two World Cups have long fades in the mists of time, the modern Uruguay team still arrive with the weight of that history on their shoulders. Coach Oscar Tabarez has cultivated a promising blend of old heads and young blood, but it’s the swansongs from the likes of Diego Lugano, Pablo Garcia and Diego Forlan that could prove invaluable.

After a dazzling decade where their Total Football dominated the World Cups of 1974 and 1978, the Dutch have been more miss than hit. With an excess of talent – Arjen Robben, Dirk Kuyt, Mark van Bommel, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Robin van Persie to name but a few – former Feyenoord coach Bert van Marwijk appears to be making the Oranje magic again.

The clinical Germany’s haven’t missed a World Cup since 1950 and although they’ve not won it since 1990, they always seem to be up there in the final stages. Don’t expect South Africa 2010 to be any different. Coach Joachim Low’s belief that “meticulous and painstaking hard work is the only way to succeed” sums up the ruthless efficiency of the three-time winners.

The reigning European Champions have never really shown their true potential at World Cup level despite their obvious quality. From the world’s finest keeper, Real’s Iker Casillas, to David Villa and Fernando Torres up top, this Spanish side will make the blood of any right-thinking opponent run cold. They are the complete package, combining European workrate with South American panache. It’s high time the Spanish stepped up to the plate at this level.

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