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La Roja: A Journey Through Spanish Football Paperback – 27 Sep 2012
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[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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Top Customer Reviews
Jimmy Burns has written an amenable yet substantive story about how Spain went from a bullfighting nation to kings of international football.
He goes way back to the 1880s and an English-owned mine in Huelva where the first games of football were played exclusively by Brits. The journalistic knitting continues as Basque teams assert primacy and then Argentines come to enliven the game with a quick passing style.
"La Roja" is about the places where such trends were born and the people who sowed them on Spanish soil.
Burns's chronicling of Barcelona F.C's role as an expression of Catalan culture and its rivalry with Real Madrid is deftly woven into discussion of the defeated Republic, the Monarchy, the Falange and, poignantly, the names of soccer players killed during the Spanish Civil War.
Noteworthy, too, is Burns's analysis of the Franco dictatorship's aggressive engagement with football as a tool to soothe tensions on the Iberian peninsula, as a propaganda weapon, and as diplomatic entry to worlds otherwise closed to the regime.
Burns suggests Franco made the Spanish national team a projection of homegrown fascism. A group possessing the "racial" qualities of true and pure Spaniards, and which brought to the playing field a particular "Spanish Fury." A sobriquet that stuck.
Like many people in Spain who had little time for the national selection over the years, Burns believes that the "The Spanish Fury" amounted to a whole lot of nothing, and that success in world-class tournaments would be elusive until a more modern and technical conception of Spanish soccer could be born.Read more ›
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.
Another bright spot is that the big two (Real and Barca) only really feature the the second half of the book. Whilst there are some great books about these two giants, its refreshing to see the author focus on other teams such as Bilbao and Racing. Jimmy Burns has written fantastic books of Barca and Maradonna in the past and this is worthy to be along side them. Just a shame it wasn't longer!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent bought as Xmas present for - wonderful mixture offootball and historyPublished 22 months ago by islay howarth
This book provides a Good mix of history, (social political and football) providing a introduction to the background of Spanish football.Published on 10 April 2015 by nick
ANOTHER GREAT BOOK ABOUT THE ARTISTRY AND MAGIC THAT IS SPANISH FOOTBALLPublished on 4 Sept. 2014 by david prentice
A really interesting and thought provoking book on the rise of Spanish football since the days of Franco. Read morePublished on 19 Jun. 2014 by C J. Lafferty
Another excellent book by Jimmy Burns.
Well researched and well written, this is an extremely insightful account of the history of Spanish football. Read more
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
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 morePublished on 14 Aug. 2013 by Hegoman
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
Well worth a read if you are a passionate football fan. One of the most interesting books I have read.Published on 23 April 2013 by Jake