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The breadth of enquiry is naturally impressive, as is the narrative structure, but its the deft handling of the sub-plots that really sets this apart, including: analysis of the dominant club sides such as Liverpool, Real Madrid and Milan (Volume 2); the evolution of Brazil (Volume 3); the superstar casualties, like Maradona and Garrincha (Volume 5); football as an agent of social control in Victorian England (Volume 1); the revolution in French football that created the 1998 World Champions (Volume 4); and the failure, so far, of Africa to fulfil Peles famous World Cup prediction (Chapter 6). Theres so little material here that isnt memorable that its difficult to pick highlights, but action aside (and its hard to think of an historically important game that isnt featured), an emotional Maradona exposing the "conspiracy" that fixed the 1990 World Cup final (Volume 2) is an unforgettable slice of football culture.
On The DVD: The History of Football on disc comes complete with a heaving platter of extras (between 33 and 54 minutes worth per volume) including, across the set, every single goal from every World Cup Final game; extended interviews with the likes of Pele, Maradona, Zidane and Bobby Charlton; loads of "first-ever-recorded-on-film" material including the 1907 England-Scotland game; text-only biographies of the major interviewees; extended tournament highlights of past European Championships, African Nations Cups, World Club Championships, Asian Cups, and of course, World Cup Finals. The picture itself is presented in 16:9 anamorphic aspect ratio, theres a well-executed menu system, plus an "easter egg" of additional hidden material in every volume.--Alex Hankin.
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