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on 18 August 2017
A truly excellent read - I think i've read it about 4 times now and bought it as a gift for friends. I'd say the reason I enjoyed it so much personally was that I love the trials and tribulations of the tiny states the book chats about, and my love of geography came together in this book.
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on 25 November 2014
Really interesting, well written book. Whilst football is the underlying theme, I learned so much about the geography and the recent history of the many countries that are covered, as seen through the lens of ordinary people who share a passion for football. I can really recommend this book.
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on 6 February 2016
Absolutely superb read! A love of footballs minnows drew me to it, and I wasn't disappointed. The ingenuity, forbearance and pure love of the game is the perfect antidote to the overpaid stars of the premier league, a delight
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on 4 November 2015
This book covers all of the stories covering the long qualification to the Football World Cup of 2014 that you never read about, or saw just as a feature of 'other news'. It tells the joy and disappointments, mostly disappointments of attempting to qualify for The World Cup in Brazil in the summer of 2014.James Montague writes from first hand experience, he was there, he talked to the manager ,players ,and most importantly to the fans. His travels range far and wide across the globe, and he talks to grassroots activists for the promotion of football, he also talks to the supremo of World Cup football-Sepp Blatter. He looks at the idiosyncratic decisions of FIFA, and how out of touch they are with the realities of life and football, and see their organisation as money making machine. This is a well written and researched book that will not only interest the student of football, but all that are concerned with equality and fair play, and also the students of geopolitics about the changing global structure of the present world, but football fans will delight in the fact that even in the worst of situations football strives, and the immortal words of Bill Shankly come to mind. 'Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don't like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that'
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on 27 May 2014
There can be few books which better examine the sad, scary, hopeless, hopeful, joyous world we currently live in than this. Whether you are interested in football or not, it really doesn't matter.. The passion and enthusiasm with which it is written can't be faked- and I defy anyone to read it and not want to see a little more of the world than they already have. I can think of no greater compliment.
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on 24 April 2016
This was an enjoyable read. Not in the same 'page-turner' category as something like Miracle of Castel di Sangro, but well-written nevertheless. The most impressive feature was the access the author managed to get to some of the teams he wrote about. The downside was that towards the end, the book appeared to do diverge away from the topic of 'Football's Outsiders' and just contained details about places the author had been and things he'd seen (the rivalry between Romania and Hungary; protests at the Confederations Cup) - certainly not uninteresting topics but not really want the book was meant to be about. Overall though, well worth reading for any fan with an interest in international football
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on 17 July 2014
"99% of footballers are amateurs. Just 1% are professional. We represent this 99% of the world" Manger Tahiti,

Splendid. What these countries dream of within FIFA, playing in the final 32 in Brasil is like seeing a reflection of what it is like for you the football fan, dreaming of playing in a Cup final.

i have to say i am stunned that James Montague got so close for so long to the teams that he gives us insight into.

It is a fabulous piece, a mix of being a Biography writer, Sports Correspondent, political commentator and finally a War Correspondent.

The "Indiana Jones of soccer writing" is certainly a good quote for him.

A great read some fantastic stories and insights about how despite all the bother folk find themselves in wherever in the world they find themselves the "magic dust" of football and in particular the World Cup makes life just that little bit sweeter.

Also gives some insight as to just why Mr Blatter is quite so popular outside the normal football powers...a very interesting strategy.

Highlights include:

The brilliant writing around the detail of American Samoa first victory, and the involvement of one Jaiyah Saelua... google it.

The wee tale about two Glasgow Rangers players and their coach Dick Advocaat.

The political detail around the Egypt team and one American coaches reactions within it.

The discovery of the word Maracanazo.....not sure what new world will be invented for Brasil 1 Germany 7 now?

The part that Wiki leaks has played in world football, and that spys still like to report the score.

So read this book it is wonderful.

Quote of the book

"There is a fascination of the game which we cant explain....football gives you balance when you have no balance in your life....It was not clear if he was talking about Kosovo or himself"

Sepp Blatter
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on 31 May 2014
By now, we know who has qualified for the world cup in Brazil. In fact you may already know who has won it by the time you read my review. Don't let that put you off this book - we know the butler did it, but the devil is in the detail.

Detail is what this book provides. Not tedious, grinding detail, but highlights, insights into the smaller teams trying to qualify for the planet's best sporting competition! It's obvious that not only has the author traveled to these places, but he's got himself under their skin - and the emotion really shines through in the book.

It took me 3 days to read - and that mainly because I didn't have the time. I read it on the bus, I read it while my wife watched telly, I read it in a hotel room in Preston.. hard to put down. Great read.
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on 10 January 2016
Really unusual exploration of wider global aspects of football.
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on 9 July 2015
I ordered this for my son, who is a total football nut! It arrived bang on time and he got stuck into it immediately. He loves it. Packaging was excellent. Very happy with it.
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