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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and informative
As a regular traveller and visitor to Eastern Europe, and having taken in quite a few games in the process, I found this book most interesting and would heartily recommend it to anyone interested in the region as a whole.

Minor criticisms would include the strange omission of Czech Republic/Slovakia and the Baltic states, and there is the distinct impression...
Published on 31 Dec 2006 by Robert Francis

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A worthy effort but the perhaps a missed opportunity
Writing any book about Eastern Europe must be a hazardous process. The chief problem involves a decision on whether to concentrate on life before the collapse of communism or what has ensued since. Most authors take the former course and so Wilson should be congratulated for attempting to tackling the chaotic, often anarchic, events of recent years.

Wilson does...
Published on 17 April 2006 by R. A. Langham


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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book and interesting throughout, 27 Feb 2014
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The author has clearly spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe and writes in a honest fashion throughout. Despite an obvious fondness of Eastern Europe he does not sugar-coat events that have gone on there and I love the way he mixes the sport and politics in concise fashion.
I grew up as a teenager in the 1980s and I always found it that bit more exciting when a British team was playing in the unknown of Eastern Europe. It had a special mystery about it for obvious reasons.
If I was to be critical, the author sometimes throws individual's names in from nowhere and it can sometimes be hard to follow particularly as many of the names sound the same and I would have liked to have read about Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania but these are minor issues.
I would love to see an updated version over the past ten years but for the time being I can highly recommend this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Still fascinating and relevant, 8 April 2013
This review is from: Behind the Curtain: Football in Eastern Europe (Kindle Edition)
Although published some time ago now, and in football a few years can seem like decades in other ways of life, Wilson's research and the stories within still retain interest. In fact, given the years since the publication of the book, the vignettes have become all the more interesting for what we know follows.

This work also feels like it will soon be ripe for an update, especially on Russian football which has experienced several upheavals of late, i.e. racism and hooliganism etc.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Football, crime and corruption, 4 Jan 2013
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Rather than yet another football travel book, it is a story of corruption, crime and mismanagement that reflect the way how football has been run in Central and Eastern Europe.
At first a dream task of travelling and writing about the beautiful game, it quickly emerges that football is just a background to systematic problems still faced in a reality hidden until recently behind Europe's Iron Curtain. And its legacy, it seems, continues.
Some fixed league titles, apparatchik officials, local gangsters - it is often a crime story based in football surroundings where magic moments of the game's beauty erupted only few times over the past hundred years, like with the Aranycsapat for Hungarians or Wembley '73 for Poles.
In a reality with no place for romantics, the picture of fans still deeply-rooted, obsessed with their past and unable to look forward and move on emerges from "Behind the Curtain". It is a story of past glory and slow rotting in a world where a globalised game crosses and absorbs mostly forgotten and at best dusted football communities in despair for some positivity.
It also, however paradoxically it could be, supports the argument that clubs, despite all, are immortal. Intriguingly, a bookmark I was using when reading this book, was a ticket from a recent AFC Wimbledon-Aldershot match, two of recent phoenixes in the English football. And there are many similar stories across Central-Eastern Europe, too. Changing names, towns, histories but always providing a central point for local communities. Despite getting smaller and smaller, more marginalised, many of these clubs ("brands", as they are often called in modern business) are still somehow important.
Wilson, to a great pleasure of the reader, does not suffer from the arrogance typical for other UK broadsheet writers; football's little Englanders. Naturally curious, he even visits cemeteries in Romania and fields-turn-football pitches in Azerbaijan (long before Tony Adams graced them). In doing so, he does not treat the reader in a patronising manner, yet is able to swiftly and naturally tell the stories as heard from the locals, but digested and accessible to a Western audience.
From local thugs in Romania to former warlords in the Balkans to international business networks, it is also a story of mafia and how the criminal element has become an integral part of football in this region.
No doubt, however, that his epilogue would have been different if written today, not when was first published in 2006. Not only CSKA but also Zenith reached for a European trophy, just like Russia advanced to the semis of the Euro 2008 and Poland hosted the following continental championships with Ukraine. Not to mention a flamboyant Shakhtar Donetsk side that has gone for a year without a defeat until they conceded a late Victor Moses goal at Stamford Bridge, with yours truly in the attendance. The emergence of a new generation of Balkan talents, led by Real Madrid's Luka Modrić, has also drawn many fans' attention.
Interestingly, too, the football in the region was overshadowed by the accusation of racism in 2012. Wilson, however, despite being a careful observer of everyday reality, does not seem to mention the issue in his book. The football world formerly behind the Iron Curtain certainly has many sins to confess but it seems this one might have been blown out of proportion by, yes you guessed it, football's little Englanders.
A tactical wonk, Wilson does not forget to elaborate about how football in Central and Eastern Europe adjusted to the changing ways of how the beautiful game has been played throughout the decades. There are few cases, however, with Hungarian's Aranycsapat and Lobanovsky's Dynamo Kiev most prominent, when local football brains were shaping, not just responding, to the global trends and innovations. Perhaps out of courtesy, the author does not indicate that for the past twenty-odd years no football strategist has emerged from the region with fresh ideas.
The book ends stating that "[...] football globalised almost to homogeneity. That may, in time, lead to decline in corruption, but an indefinable something will have been lost." Whether it is a change for good or bad, only time will tell. Or David Conn.
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5.0 out of 5 stars As per ususal - J.Wilson does a fantastic job, 1 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Behind the Curtain: Football in Eastern Europe (Kindle Edition)
The amount of research done into this book is unreal - the number of interviews and help from pro's is just fantastic to see. highly recommended - even just to find out about Lobanovsky (who, if you don't know is one of the pioneers of modern day 'pressing' in football).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting. Very interesting., 11 Jun 2012
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Mr. J. Norris "radio ted" (Newton-le-Willows) - See all my reviews
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This is an engaging, well-written book. The author is obviously pretty passionate about his subject, particularly early 90s Red Star Belgrade. It's interesting to see how the influence of communist rulers resulted in a culture of corruption within the leagues, something that seems to continue to this day these days with the advent of powerful, shady agents and mega-rich owners (in Russia particularly).

Anyone with an interest beyond the big, commercial leagues will find something of interest in this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Solid, but not desperately revealing, 14 April 2011
By 
Matthew Smith (London) - See all my reviews
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There's a growing selection of books looking at the history of football in various countries, such as "Football Against the Enemy" and "Brilliant Orange". This worthy addition to the genre takes a fairly rapid-fire look at a number of former Soviet Bloc countries, delving into the sometimes fascinating, sometimes dodgy and sometimes both histories of the game, plus comments on current leagues and rivalries. You'll have heard of very few of the players (and a few more of the teams) but the author writes well and it's very easyy to read. Seasoned football followers (particularly those with an interest in European tournaments or who play a lot of Football Manager (!)) might not feel they know much more when they finish than when they started, but if you're a fan of the national football histories, then give this one a go.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Converted!, 13 Feb 2007
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I have to admit the idea of reading a sports book doesn't fill me with boundless enthusiasm, particularly one subtitled `Travels in Eastern European Football' but having read so many exuberant reviews I decided to fight my prejudices and give it a go. Imagine my surprise to find that it really is a terrific book! Funny, warm and intelligently written.

Although I didn't read it for the sport (although I have it on good authority that it's pretty damn important) it was the combination of social history, travelogue and wry humour that completely won me over. What did surprise me was that I also came away feeling considerably more knowledgeable and actually enthusiastic about football, and also with a real hankering to explore Eastern Europe. What better testament is there than the conversion of a sceptic!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic, riveting insight into a part of the world ..., 24 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Behind the Curtain: Football in Eastern Europe (Kindle Edition)
A fantastic, riveting insight into a part of the world about whose football we hear little nowadays. A great history lesson and a poignant one too.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars first-rate footy and travel writing, 9 May 2006
By 
Adrian Firth (London, England) - See all my reviews
Lovely stuff, like a conversation with a genial history master you suspect may have been a spy. Radiates warmth for his subject and its characters - the Balkan chapters in particular are written with great style and soul. Shame about the title though, feels like it's missing something
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy read on eastern european football, 25 Sep 2006
By 
Steven Palmer - See all my reviews
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I bought this book after reading the reviews on this site and found it a joy to read. I have heard of some of the things that have happened in this book but became a bit more knowledgable on the yugoslavia chapter.
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