European football is growing to gargantuan proportions. Thanks to the expansion of the Champions' League, the best club sides appear on television almost every week. The European Championships grow bigger and more lucrative with every tournament. Yet what lies beyond the faux-classical strains of the Champions League theme music? Is modern European football just big business. or is the game a vehicle for passion, spirit and national identity? In an attempt to find out, Charlie Connelly embarks upon a European journey in search of the soul of the European game. From Spain's Primera Liga to the Faroe Islands' Second Division, this book examines the game at all levels in some of Europe's most diverse nations and puts the game in its political and social context. In Bosnia, Charlie Connelly finds football succeeding where politics has failed in uniting ethnic rivals. In Spain, he visits the top flight club that represents a fiercely independent people, and in Italy, he visits Turin, a city united in grief 50 years to the day after Europe's greatest club side was killed in a plane crash. In France, he watches the Third Division team that want to take up residence in the Stade de France and become a major force in Europe play in front of 500 diehards. A journey to Northern Ireland reveals a struggling side forced to play every match across an international border. And in Vienna, Connelly goes in search of the legacy of an Austrian football legend who came to a mysterious end after standing up to the Nazis. His journey of over 20,000 miles ends at the northernmost football club in the world.
Charlie Connelly is a bestselling author and award-winning broadcaster.
He is the author of ten books, including the bestselling 'Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round The Shipping Forecast', and 'And Did Those Feet...: Walking Through 2000 Years Of British And Irish History'.
'Attention All Shipping' is one of the biggest selling travel narratives of the past decade, was a Radio 4 Book of the Week, and the audio version was voted the second greatest audiobook of all time in a Guardian/Waterstones poll in August 2008. 'And Did Those Feet' was also a Radio 4 Book of the Week, read by Martin Freeman.
Charlie was a presenter on the BBC Holiday programme, his first film for which won the Silver Thistle Award for international broadcasting.
He co-presented the first three series of Traveller's Tree with Fi Glover for BBC Radio 4 and devised and presented the acclaimed documentary 'Noel Coward, The Poet' for the same channel. He has been a regular guest on 'Excess Baggage' and has also appeared on BBC Radio 2, RTÉ Radio 1, Newstalk 106.2 and BBC Five Live. Charlie was shortlisted for the 2008 British Guild of Travel Writers' Radio Award for his work on Traveller's Tree.
He has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Times, New Statesman, Arena, Irish Times, Sunday Times, Glasgow Herald and - much to his accountant's amusement - the Financial Times. He has also written comedy scripts for RTÉ Radio One and wrote the well-received comedy show What's The Story?, broadcast in January 2011, for the same channel.
Charlie is a popular and entertaining public speaker, having lectured at the Royal Geographical Society, sold out the Edinburgh Festival and spoken at numerous events and festivals with venues for his solo appearances ranging from a sold out Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to the Toller Porcorum Village Hall in Dorset.
He has sung Blue Moon of Kentucky live on Uzbek national television with the country's biggest pop star, is an official ambassador for a breakaway Lithuanian republic, was once hounded by the UK national press after being falsely accused of intending to invade Rockall, was presented with an honorary team shirt with his name on by the Liechtenstein national football team and has been chased across the Great Plain by Hungarian gangsters. They thought he was someone else, but fortunately he didn't notice until they were arrested.
Charlie was born and raised in London. He now lives in Dublin.