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La Roja: A Journey Through Spanish Football [Paperback]

Jimmy Burns
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 Sep 2012
The author of a best-selling biography of Diego Maradona, and similarly widely acclaimed books on FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, digs deep into the roots of the most popular sport, to look at how football played in Spain became the most admired in the world. From its early beginnings when the first football on the shores of Bilbao and Buenos Aires was played by British sailors and engineers, through to the influx of South American stars, and similarly inspirational Italians, Dutchman and Scandinavians, the author shows how the engagement of foreigners with home-grown Spanish talent overcame political adversity and produced football of sublime skill, passion, and unparalleled entertainment value. The book takes us on a journey through some of the extraordinary characters, games, and moments that have defined Spanish football from the early days when a few enthusiasts developed their talent kicking a ball around on a piece of industrial waste-ground or beach, to the emergence of rival giants, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid - the most powerful and successful football clubs in the world - and a national team that, encompassing all that was most brilliant in the Spanish League, became the World Champions.

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La Roja: A Journey Through Spanish Football + El Clasico: Barcelona v Real Madrid: Football's Greatest Rivalry + Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (27 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857206540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857206541
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


[An] absorbing book....this book is a must read. It will make you appreciate the game even more than you do --Barcelona Soccer Institute

Combining keen observations, informative research, and groundbreaking interviews with everyone from del Bosque to Kubala, Burns brings the dynamic history of Spanish soccer to life. La Roja is the inspiring journey of the circumstances and individuals who have shaped, nurtured, and created the superpower that the rest of the soccer world envies today --The Soccer Room (blog)

La Roja shows in colorful detail how the traditions and loyalties of one country ended up by giving us the finest clubs and national team of the present moment -- Wall Street Journal

Those who like to sneer that the world's most popular sport is a grossly exaggerated and often meaningless metaphor for the battle of real life should get hold of this splendid book -- Independent

[A] vivid survey of Spanish football -- Financial Times

There is so much people don't know about Spain and Spanish football, and that is not a bad thing for as long as a complete writer like Jimmy Burns has a look at it and bring his unique vision of it. La Roja fills a hole in the knowledge of both Spain and Spanish football, as it goes beyond the football to explain a country, a society and its transformation through, thanks and despite the beautiful game -- Guillem Balague, Sky TV correspondent

A brilliant and comprehensive study --Richard Wilson

About the Author

Jimmy Burns is an award-winning journalist and author of seven other books. He was born in Madrid in 1953. He has reported for the Financial Times, London Observer, BBC and the Economist, and was the FT correspondent in South America in the early 80s and his book on Argentina and the Falklands War, The Land that lost its Heroes, won the 1988 Somerset Maugham Award for non-fiction. When not in Spain, or travelling elsewhere, he lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Really enjoyed Jimmy Burns' Barca book so I was keen to read La Roja as well. Similar to Barca the author is deft at knowing when to provide us with his own insights - and knowing when to let the fans, managers and players speak. The Spanish have the English to thank originally for giving them the game, but once embedded in the culture the History of Spanish Football has a story uniquely tied to its own politics and spirit. La Roja is a story involving a civil war and proud and fractious regions (whether it be the Basque Country or Catalonia) - but the ending hints at the harmony that Spain has achieved through no small help from football.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior Football Book. 15 May 2012
By Andy
Format:Kindle Edition
This book provides a wonderful blend of politics, history and sports journalism. Jimmy Burns weights his material well and has a writing style superior to most other football journalists. La Roja is particularly strong on Real Madrid and Barcelona, which is not to mean that the author ignores other teams. I enjoyed the final third of the book most as Burns gives us a behind the scenes look at how both Barcelona and Spain have triumphed in recent years. One can't help but be touched by Burns' admiration and affection for the likes of Pep Guardiola and Del Bosque.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Muy Terrific. 20 May 2012
Jimmy Burns writes with authority and
enthusiasm. The book starts with the origins of Spanish Football, inherited from the English, but it is not until the author interviews living witnesses to the players and politics of the game that La Roja really hits its stride. The book is a subtle guide to the History of Spain in the 20th century, as well as its football.
As well as being a keen observer of why Spain have recently been successful, the book is also particularly strong on the eras of Cruyff (as player and manager) and Raul. Muy terrific.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 21 Jun 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A fantastic read for anyone who either loves Spanish football or interested in 20th Spanish history.There is a particular focus on Athletic Bilbao which any soccer fans who cheered their exciting soccer played last year in Europa Cup will enjoy
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Story of the rise of Spanish football 19 Jun 2014
A really interesting and thought provoking book on the rise of Spanish football since the days of Franco.
It chronicles its national and domestic teams through the decades, culminating in the Euro and World Cup wins in the last couple of years.
An insightful read into Spain's passion for football - highly recommend.
Quite ironic that i write this article on the day after they are knocked out of the World Cup!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly researched 30 Oct 2013
By sasco
Another excellent book by Jimmy Burns.
Well researched and well written, this is an extremely insightful account of the history of Spanish football.

My only criticism (very slight one at that) - is that one could easily be overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information presented but then again it makes it a thorough and comprehensive read. Better to have too much information than too little.

So taking this into consideration, for those with a keen interest in Spanish football, this is a must and an excellent reference book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 23 April 2013
By Jake
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well worth a read if you are a passionate football fan. One of the most interesting books I have read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 27 Sep 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Interesting and thoroughly researched. Amazing insight in a fascinating political landscape. Excellently written and offers a real glimpse of Spanish football, including some interesting looks at history and how that affects the football.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by david prentice
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting journey through Spanish football
I read this whilst on a recent trip to Valencia, in keeping with the Spanish theme of the weekend.
The writer does a great job describing the very British influenced birth of... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mark Major
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and interesting
This is a very good historical overview of the evolution of Spanish football from its introduction to Spain by British mining company managers in the 19th century to the recent... Read more
Published 14 months ago by David Hegarty
5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas Gift
This was given to a lover of the game and he has not put it down this. That says it all for me.

Great item. Thanks
Published 15 months ago by Hopian
4.0 out of 5 stars Historic context
Really good read in respect to the history of both Spain as a country as week as its football. Also helps understand the historic rivalrly that exists today and just between the... Read more
Published 18 months ago by chim
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit too much info.
well writen and easy to read but there is only so much history of Spainish football a normal football fan can take. He must take credit for the ammount of research done. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Neal
5.0 out of 5 stars The great Real Madrid Barca divide
Great insight into the football and the politics of Spain. The way in which the ( broadly ) monarchist Real and the ( broadly ) republican Barca have exemplified political... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Jonathan Hills
4.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Burns
Jimmy Burns is a knowledgable and informative writer, particularly on the subject of Spanish football. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Neil McGuffie
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This was a really interesting book showing how Spanish football has changed as the nation itself changed,from the Franco years to the modern era. Read more
Published 21 months ago by martin rowe
5.0 out of 5 stars intererting read
A bit over-long but a good summary of the relationship of football to wider Spanish history. Vital if you want to live or do business in Spain but also good sports history too
Published 21 months ago by Ruth writes
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