Aside from mine, of course, here are some soccer books and films you might want to read and see.


The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer, by David Goldblatt. This is a comprehensive history of the game, which is to say it’s massive, thick, tough to get through, incomparable, and indispensable.

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby. Hollywood made a stupid movie with this title about the Boston Red Sox, but the real story was about Arsenal. It’s about one man’s relationship with football and his beloved club.

Among the Thugs is the best and most famous book about football hooliganism — because it’s about a lot more, and less, than that. My review.

The History of English Football Clubs, by Colin Mitchell. At 400 pages, you will not find a better source for the history of 133 clubs. Published in 2013.

Dictionary of Football Club Nicknames in Britain and Ireland, by Shaun Tyas. You might not think this topic rates 350 pages, but the author proves you wrong – and also introduces you to names like the Cider Army and the Wurzels.

Football Cliches, by Adam Hurrey. Let’s put it this way: the opening chapter is called “101 Ways to Score a Goal (or not)” and explains very important distinctions like an impudent chip versus an exocet.

How Soccer Explains the World, by Franklin Foer. Each chapter takes you to a different place and explains how soccer touches on a current theme: Brazil for corruption, Italy for the “new oligarchs,” America for the culture wars.

Savage Enthusiasm, by Paul Brown. A history of football fans – how they have evolved and why they (we) care so much.

Bloody Confused!: A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer, by Chuck Culpepper. A veteran sports writer has lost all passion for the subject, and turns it into a job to be analyzed. And then he encounters Portsmouth FC. Hilarity ensues.

Who Are Ya?: The TalkSport Book of Football’s Best Ever Chants, by Gershon Portnoi. It’s really hard to write about songs (trust me), but this book is at least a humorous and entertaining entry into the world of soccer singing.


The Athletic is, for me, the best thing out there for reading about football world-wide.

The Football Pink delves into the game’s history and culture. Free online subscription.


Ted Lasso is a series based on the highly successful NBC Premier League promo video, in which an American college football coach takes over an English football club.

Fever Pitch — the real one, about Arsenal, with Colin Firth. Not the stupid American rip-off.

Maradona in Mexico (Netflix) — or, when a global icon in the sport, also a drug addict, shows up to manage a second-division Mexican club in cartel country. My review.

One Night in Istanbul is a caper film about four lads trying to get to the 2005 Champions League Final to watch their beloved Istanbul. My review.

Will is based on the same game as above, but more along the lines of drama, heartbreak and inspiration.

Goal! is an acclaimed documentary film about England’s 1966 World Cup triumph at Wembley — with the greatest closing line in the history of film, by the way.

Matthews (Amazon Prime) is a documentary about the legendary Sir Stanley Matthews, first ever winner (at age 41!) of the Ballon D’or.

The English Game, just released on Netflix, is a six-part miniseries on the rise of the professional footballer in the 1880s, woven together with class relations, the workers’ rights movement, some love affairs, life drama, etc. From the creator of Downtown Abbey. My review.

The Damned United is not a 100% historically accurate portrayal of Brian Clough’s time at Leeds United, but it’s a fun movie. Michael Sheen, who plays Clough, is outstanding.

I Believe in Miracles is the true (and incredible) story of what Clough did later at Nottingham Forest.

Sunderland Til I Die is another Netflix series that goes behind the scenes at the north east club. Here’s my review.

All Or Nothing is a behind-the-scenes docu-series from Amazon Prime about a very different team and season at Manchester City.

The Bromley Boys is a sweet coming-of-age story focused on a South London lower-tier team and its supporters.

City! is a six-part documentary available on YouTube, a behind-the-scenes look at Manchester City in 1981.

Busby is a documentary on Sir Matt Busby, the legendary manager who made Manchester United what they are today.

Mike Bassett: England Manager is a goofy “mockumentary” about a nobody who becomes England manager. Very loosely based on the true and sad story of a 1990s manager when England were terrible. My review.

Kicking and Screaming (hat tip: Groundhopper Rob M), a Will Farrell-meets-soccer-and-Mike-Ditka romp.

Take Us Home – Leeds United (hat tip: Groundhopper Johnny), a behind-the-scenes look at Leeds trying to get back to the Premier League. My review. And there’s now a second “season” of two shows.

Buy The Groundhopper’s Guide to Soccer in England

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