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on 12 June 2011
Simon Kuper is an insightful writer. And it is unusual to have such a writer to tackle footballers and their managers. This collection is a pleasure to read and one learns a good deal about the individuals concerned. The anecdotes are good. The book is a perfect bedside read. You can take in one, two or more of these small chapters. The only criticism is that much of this journalism is from some years back - it is a collection. But that should not take away from the book as a whole and Kuper gives an update where necessary.

Buy it and enjoy!
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on 17 July 2011
This book provides a wonderful collection of essays by one of the most knowledgeable writers on football.

Most of the chapters were initially written as columns for the FT. As such, they provide the ideal format for quick bedside reading or commuter journeys. Just don't expect to quickly put the book aside!

In my opinion Simon Kuper is, with Rob Hughes of the International Herald Tribune, one of the best writers on football. They manage to provide perspective, context, and real understanding of the larger aspects of the game. This contrasts greatly with the large majority of football journalism (sadly, this applies even to quality papers such as the Guardian, whose opinion pieces tend to be among the most opportunistic and inconsistent one can find).

Kuper provides updates to the chapters where appropriate. The one on Johan Cruijff is especially riveting, considering the ending. Looking forward to another volume a few years from now.
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on 10 June 2011
This book is sheer delight. Written by one of the foremost analysts of the beautiful game, it consists of a series of short and at times intimate portraits of the people who make football go as an industry. At times funny, sometimes sad and pathetic, these men reveal themselves to Kuper in a way that few would do voluntarily. Always insightful and lots of fun. Read it.
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on 29 May 2012
I love everything Simon Kuper writes, whether its in the FT or in book form. This is a great little collection of profiles and interviews, often supplemented with a couple of lines some years later, bringing the subject matter up to date.

Clever, insightful and intelligent. Why aren't more sports writers like this?
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on 9 March 2014
Simon Kuper, the European football-writer, co-authored one of the best football books ever a few years back with "Soccernomics". That book brought never-before seen insights into the game of football, and what a joy it was. This is Kuper's next book.

Originally published in Europe as "The Football Men: Up Close With the Giants of the Modern Game" (383 pages), it appears on the US market as "Soccer Men: Profiles of the Rogues, Geniuses, and Neurotics Who Dominate the World's Most Popular Sport". It is important to understand that this book is mostly (but not entirely) a collection of previously published columns that Kuper wrote for a variety of publications, including of course the Financial Times for which Kuper was the weekly sports columnist for many years, but also The Observer and some Dutch publications. As an avid reader of the Financial Times I was afraid that I would recognize many of the columns but thankfully this was not the case. Nevertheless, I was somewhat apprehensive about this book. Well, I shouldn't have been.

"The Football Men" brings about 65 "short stories" (averaging about 10 pages per) on the megastars and not-quite-megastars of the game, some even getting more than one profile or story (such as the legendary Johan Cruijff). They are written with a dry, if not wry, sense of humor, and I found myself reading this with a smile on my face most of the time. In a column on Wayne Rooney: "There are two types of British footballer: ugly ones like Rooney, Paul Gascoigne and Nobby Stiles, and pretty ones like Beckham and Michael Owen. The British public usually prefers the ugly ones." Haha! On Lothar Matthaus's rise to stardom: "The transfer of power officially took place on 17 June 1986, in the final minutes of the game against Morocco, when the Germans were given a free kick. Rummenigge was getting ready to take it when Matthaus shoved him aside and scored." Zing! And on and on. Highly recommended for any fan of the beautiful game!
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on 18 June 2012
Simon Kuper nails it again. This amazing book details the lives and careers of some of the most famous players and agents in football. He shows a passion for the game and a well tought writing.

We are already used to Simon incisive and detailed writing, on subjects most football writers would never think of.

This is a definite must.
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on 25 July 2014
This collection of articles shows again that Kuper is an authoritative football writer with an international perspective. This is an easy and interesting read in small snatches but it becomes a little repetitive when you see the same lines repeated from a different angle during a longer read. Recommended.
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on 27 January 2015
This has such vitality ,humour and --unlike too many sports books -- is written with style and in a fluid tempo.
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on 19 November 2014
Getting my ten year old son to read is sometimes like pulling teeth. This book has been brilliant. The chapters on each player or manager are all around four pages long, so we look down the list and decide who to read that night. We're saving Cruyff till last. Really interesting and well written just like his other books.
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on 6 April 2013
Simon Kuper's 'The Football Men' is a superb anthology of interviews with some of the stars of the past and today. I implore you to add the book to your bookshelf. You will not be disappointed. Superb Simon.
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