3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2003
This is a highly enjoyable account of the author's visit to Japan (but not South Korea) during last year's World Cup. The matches - all 64 of them - are described in just enough detail to be satisfying, amusing even, but not too much to get dull or repetitive, and the little bits of trivia that seemed important at the time are what bring the whole tournament back to vivid life. Stuff like the Spanish coach's tremendously sweaty armpits, for example, or how very many times Rivaldo hit the deck with the slightest provocation. What really makes this work, though, are the passages between the games, where England - Chris England that is - is bumbling around the country for the first time finding out how potty it is. The chapter at the Dutch theme park, for example, is pleasingly barmy, while explaining to a taxi driver that his name is the same as his country, not realising that his companion's name means South Korea in Japanese is outstandingly funny. Unlike other football writers who covered the event, England is not consumed with the false glamour of hooliganism, and comes across as a genial chap having a good time - his book is all the better for it. Great fun, highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2004
I really enjoyed this book - it's amazing how quickly a big football tournament feels like ancient history. Only two years ago England were in a World Cup and Trevor Sinclair was a regular in the side - it seems like aeons ago. The author has a great relaxed attitude to the football and to the experience of travelling around Japan, and the whole thing slips down very easily. I like it that he has a go at Sepp Blatter, and there was a very well-written section about how he is becoming disillusioned with the Premiership and the Champions League. Avoids obvious pitfalls, such as falling in love/hate with hooliganism, and poking fun at the funny foreigners, and all in all the most highly recommended football book I've read in years.