Football. Or soccer. I remember my first World Cup in 1982. I collected the Panini stickers. I was staying with family in France, and I remember as Paolo Rossi had the tournament of his dreams. I remember in 1986 as Diego Maradona defeated England with true artistry and con artistry. In 1990, I discovered English pubs and wept with the nation when Paul Gascoigne, Gazza, picked up a yellow card and automatic suspension for the semi-final. In 1994, I went to my only World Cup match (Spain vs Germany) and was boarding a plane in Portland, Oregon as England played a thrilling match with Argentina…and Beckham was minutes away from a red card. 1998 – I watched a sleepy Ronaldo and a practical deity in Zidane. 2002, France didn’t show up, Ronaldo found redemption, and Seaman got lobbed. And in 2006, Rooney saw red, in more ways than one. It’s been tough being an England fan.

I'm an England fan

And now it’s the 2010 World Cup and I’m still hopeful. England can win the World Cup. One of my wishes, is to see England win the World Cup before I die. It will be my son’s first World Cup too. He’s an England fan. The tournament is every four years, which leaves a lot of down time. I like to read. About soccer. I also have some pics, here.

This post is prompted by the impending opening match and the arrival of two new books – Soccer and Philosophy by Ted Richards and A Beautiful Game by Tom Watt. I haven’t read them yet, but I can barely wait – especially A Beautiful Game – stunning photos and great players talking about how soccer has changed their lives. Wow.

A Beautiful Game
A Beautiful Game

I read my fair share of soccer books, so here are my must reads for this summer’s World Cup.

Scoring at Half-Time – The Northern Irish Pele? You better believe it. One of the greatest players ever, that got tangled up in booze. Lots of it. A fascinating read.

The Miracle of Castel di Sangro – Throw an American journalist into Italy, with a lower league team facing tough competition, political pressure, tragedy and great Italian drama. One of the first books I read within the soccer world. Any my friend Meggie wrote a great review, here.

Garrincha: The Triumph & Tragedy of Brazil’s Forgotten Football Hero – I’m a big fan of the show Intervention. And this book is so similar. This poor man was a train wreck. Lost his virginity to a goat, played for Brazil, and drank practically his entire life. BUT – watch video of him on YouTube. Amazing.

As I type, I realize I have other books I love. Robbie Fowler’s book is hilarious. Bobby Charlton’s book about his Manchester United career is inspiring and moving. Tony Adams wrote one of the most honest auto-biography’s ever. Steve McManaman’s recap of his Real Madrid time is incredibly thoughtful and engaging. There’s a theme here. The best books are honest. They’re not emerging or mid-career books. They’re well planned, well designed and have a clear message. It sounds simple, but there are LOTS of terrible soccer books out there. Take my word for it, or do some online research – fans will let you know.

I’m building up quite a library. Maybe I’ll write something, one day.

What are some of your picks?

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  1. Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!