The book introduces the readers to many eccentric characters who graced the football field
There are two types of Football Books - those that handle victories, and those who talk about the defeats. Racing Post’s 500 Strangest Football Stories falls in a category of its own which not only discusses the on-the-field and off-the-field stuff but also the news that only the observant fans search on sports pages or in the Weird section. Where else would you find news about a player who lost his finger while celebrating a goal, two Uzbek fans who cycled 4000 miles to meet their idol or a club owner who was sacked for having an affair with the physio’s wife?
500 Strangest Football Stories introduces the readers to many such characters who graced the football field; it includes the goalkeeper who was chased by fans for mocking them during a match; a valuable player who had to be substituted during an international match so that he could add firepower in another match for his club; fraudulent fans who were accused of cashing in on the Munich Air Disaster; heroes who turned sore losers in an instant and excited individuals who even tackled a paramedic when he came to treat another player.
Through this book, you also get to know about the many players and managers who are now long forgotten. You will find out that there was a manager whose mustache indicated his feelings and his wife thought he was having an affair; there was one Prime Minister who labeled his players “thieves” after they lost two matches; and that David Beckham found himself on the other end of a lawsuit that claimed that his footballs were satellite-guided by James Bond and the Pakistani intelligence.
That’s not all. You will also get to know about a player who left everything to represent his country only to find out that he wasn’t eligible; a Spanish son who took his deceased Dad to matches in a makeshift urn; and an official who was banned for not wearing a “suit” during the match!
It doesn’t matter that this book doesn’t have any pictures. It doesn’t matter if there are instances that happened long before any of our grandfathers were born. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand football like cricket. What matters the most is that 500 out of 500 times you will end up with a smile on your face. You will quote the instances narrated in this book to your relatives and that you will know which manager was booted out 10 minutes after taking charge when your friends have no idea that any such thing ever happened.
So if you didn’t know that there was one Italian match that sparked a revolution, that there was a goalkeeper who never let anyone else do his laundry, and that there was a player who killed both his grandmothers to come up with an excuse for missing a game, don’t worry. This book is a treasure trove - after all, where else would you find out that a former player turned pundit charged a TV crew for the use of his gas fire; that a player wanted to become a monk when he retired; and why Zidane really head-butted Marco in the final of the World Cup in 2006! Happy reading ...
Omair Alavi ([email protected]) is a freelance broadcast journalist