21 Best Football Books to Read in 2023

best football books

Football is more than just a game.

It is a global phenomenon that stirs emotions, unites nations, and captivates the hearts of millions.

From the dazzling skills of the players to the roaring crowds in the stadiums, every aspect of football has a story to tell.

But what if I told you that some of the most compelling and enchanting tales of the beautiful game aren’t found on the pitch, but within the pages of books?

That’s right!

Football books have taken the literary world by storm, becoming a powerful medium that transports readers into a world of passion, triumph, and drama.

These books have not only entertained readers but have also left an indelible impact on the sporting and cultural landscape.

In this article, we will dive deep into the realm of football literature and explore the best football books that have mesmerized fans, unveiled the secrets of the game, and ignited a love for football like never before.

So, buckle up and get ready to embark on a literary journey that will leave you craving for more tales from the beautiful game.

The History of Football Literature

The history of football literature is a captivating journey that mirrors the development of the sport.

It dates back to the early days when football captured the imagination of readers and writers alike.

One remarkable illustration of this is Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire” (1893), an intriguing Sherlock Holmes story that incorporates a football-related mystery.

This inclusion speaks volumes about the game’s prominence and cultural impact during that era.

Conan Doyle’s pioneering work laid the foundation for future football books, inspiring a wave of authors to explore the sport’s essence, characters, and narratives, and ultimately shaping the genre into what it is today.

Different Types of Football Books

  • Fictional Works

Football has ignited the imaginations of writers, giving birth to a plethora of fictional masterpieces that transport readers into the heart of the beautiful game.

Timeless classics like Nick Hornby’s “Fever Pitch” and David Peace’s “The Damned Utd” dive deep into the passion, love, and even obsession that fans have for their beloved clubs.

These novels offer an intimate and relatable portrayal of the emotional roller coaster experienced by football supporters, capturing the essence of the game’s tribalism and unwavering dedication.

In the contemporary landscape, authors like Nadifa Mohamed explore football’s profound impact on individuals’ lives.

“Black Mamba Boy” intertwines the game with broader social issues, delving into the personal journeys of characters while highlighting the power of football as a unifying force in challenging circumstances.

These fictional works not only entertain but also serve as windows into the human experience, reminding us of the universal language and significance of football in our lives.

  • Biographies and Memoirs

Biographies and memoirs of football legends breathe life into the extraordinary journeys of these iconic figures.

In “The Autobiography,” Johan Cruyff takes readers on an intimate voyage through his remarkable career, sharing the highs and lows, the victories and setbacks that shaped him into a footballing legend.

The book provides invaluable insights into his innovative playing style, his impact on the game, and his philosophy that continues to influence generations.

“I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović” offers an unfiltered glimpse into the enigmatic Swedish superstar’s life, revealing the audacity and determination that propelled him to the pinnacle of the sport.

Through his candid storytelling, Ibrahimović bares his soul, sharing his remarkable rise from humble beginnings to becoming one of the world’s most revered footballers.

These biographies and memoirs not only shed light on the personal experiences of football icons but also inspire readers to pursue their dreams relentlessly and overcome obstacles in the pursuit of greatness.

  • Tactical and Analytical Books

Tactical and analytical books serve as a treasure trove for those seeking a deeper understanding of the intricate mechanisms that drive the game.

Jonathan Wilson’s “Inverting the Pyramid” takes readers on a fascinating journey through the evolution of football tactics, unraveling the strategic shifts that have shaped the sport over the years.

From the advent of formations to the modern-day innovations, Wilson’s meticulous research and analysis provide a comprehensive roadmap of tactical evolution.

“Pep Confidential” by Martí Perarnau offers an unprecedented glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest football coaches of our time, Pep Guardiola.

This immersive behind-the-scenes account delves into Guardiola’s coaching philosophy, training methods, and tactical genius, offering readers an intimate understanding of how he orchestrates success on the pitch.

These tactical and analytical books empower readers to dissect the game from a strategic standpoint, providing insights into the decision-making processes, formations, and game plans that separate the good from the great.

By expanding their tactical knowledge, readers gain a newfound appreciation for the intellectual intricacies that underpin every exhilarating match.

  • Historical and Cultural Books

Historical and cultural books offer invaluable insights into the broader context of football, helping readers grasp the profound impact the sport has had on societies worldwide.

David Goldblatt’s “The Ball Is Round” takes readers on an enlightening journey through the global history of football.

From its humble beginnings to its emergence as a cultural phenomenon, Goldblatt explores the sport’s intricate web of social, political, and economic connections, unveiling its role as a powerful agent of change and unity.

For a more intimate perspective, Eduardo Galeano’s “Soccer in Sun and Shadow” illuminates the sport’s cultural significance through a collection of captivating stories.

Galeano delves into the rich tapestry of football, celebrating its ability to transcend boundaries, ignite passion, and reflect the hopes and dreams of individuals and communities.

These historical and cultural books remind us that football is not merely a game but a reflection of the societies in which it thrives.

They shed light on the ways in which football intersects with identity, politics, and human experiences, providing a holistic understanding of the sport’s profound influence on the world.

  • Photography and Art Books

Photography and art books provide a visual feast for football enthusiasts, showcasing the beauty and emotion of the game captured through the lens of talented photographers and artists.

“The Age of Innocence” by Reuel Golden transports readers through time, presenting a captivating collection of iconic photographs that freeze historic moments in football’s timeline.

Each image encapsulates the essence of the game, evoking a sense of nostalgia, joy, and raw emotion.

On the other hand, “Football in Art” curated by Sir Bobby Charlton explores the artistic interpretations of football, showcasing a diverse range of artwork inspired by the sport.

From paintings to sculptures, this book celebrates the creative expressions and unique perspectives that artists bring to the world of football.

These photography and art books offer a visual narrative, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the aesthetic realm of the game.

They are not only an aesthetic delight but also a testament to the power of visual storytelling, making them a cherished addition to any football lover’s collection, stimulating the imagination and capturing the spirit of the game in ways that words cannot fully convey.

Criteria for Selecting the Best Football Books

When it comes to selecting the best football books, a few key criteria can help narrow down your choices.

First and foremost, consider the book’s readability.

Look for engaging writing styles that capture your attention and make the reading experience enjoyable.

A well-written book can bring the world of football to life and keep you hooked from start to finish.

Accuracy is another crucial factor. Ensure that the book is well-researched and factually correct.

Authors with credible backgrounds in the football world, such as players, coaches, journalists, or academics, provide valuable insights and narratives grounded in knowledge and experience.

Relevance is also important.

Consider your specific interests within the football realm.

Whether you’re passionate about a particular team, era, or aspect of the game, choose books that align with your preferences and deepen your understanding of those subjects.

To gauge the overall quality of a football book, read reviews and seek recommendations.

Reviews can provide valuable insights into the book’s strengths, weaknesses, and overall reception among readers.

Recommendations from trusted sources, such as fellow football enthusiasts or reputable publications, can steer you towards hidden gems or popular classics.

By considering factors like readability, accuracy, relevance, and reviews, you can confidently navigate the vast landscape of football books and select titles that will enrich your knowledge, captivate your imagination, and fuel your passion for the beautiful game.

How to Choose the Right Football Book for You

When it comes to choosing the right football book for yourself, it’s important to consider your personal interests and preferences.

Reflect on what aspects of football excite you the most.

Are you drawn to thrilling narratives that transport you into the heart of the action?

If so, seek out books that offer compelling storytelling and captivating characters.

If you have a thirst for knowledge and a desire to delve into the historical aspects of the game, consider books that explore football’s rich past.

These can provide fascinating insights into the origins, evolution, and cultural significance of the sport.

For those who enjoy a tactical analysis of the game, look for books that dive into football strategies and delve into the minds of coaches and players.

These can provide a deeper understanding of the intricacies and nuances of the beautiful game.

Don’t be afraid to explore different genres and perspectives.

Fiction, biographies, tactical analyses, and historical accounts all offer unique lenses through which to view football.

By being open-minded and venturing into diverse territory, you can broaden your understanding of the sport and discover new dimensions to your love for football.

Ultimately, the right football book for you is the one that resonates with your interests, captivates your attention, and sparks your passion for the game.

So, embrace the diversity of options available and embark on a literary journey that will enrich your understanding and deepen your love for the beautiful game of football.


Football books serve as a gateway to the game’s magic beyond the 90 minutes on the pitch.

They transport readers into a world filled with passion, drama, and personal journeys.

Whether you’re seeking inspiration, knowledge, or simply a great story, the best football books are waiting to be discovered.

So grab a book, settle into your favorite reading spot, and embark on a literary journey that will ignite your love for football like never before.

Remember, the game isn’t confined to the stadium—it lives within the pages of these remarkable football books.