With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s not too late to find a great gift for the footy fan in your life (or suggest a gift if you are the footy fan in question). Here are some suggestions that may help make one’s holiday shopping a bit easier.
For Bundesliga fans, “Tor,” written by Uli Hesse, is sacred scripture. Every page is a delight as Uli delineates the heritage of both German club football and the national team with style. Whether an expert or a novice, reading Tor is an essential for fans of the German game, and a truly joyful experience. Uli not only paints the big picture but fills in all the details about the players and coaches who’ve made the game great, and even devotes a chapter to the naming rites of teams, explaining those initials such as ‘VfL, TuS, VfB’ that are part of the official club names and initially seem strange to foreign followers of the Bundesliga.
If you haven’t read any of Jonathan Wilson’s books, you’re really missing out. “Inverting the Pyramid” is a wonderful treatise on the evolution of football tactics over more than a century of innovation by coaches across the globe. And his “Beyond the Curtain” is a fascinating look at football in Eastern Europe, both its history and the changes resulting from the fall of the Iron Curtain. Part history, part travelogue and totally interesting.
Two other recent footy classics are the wondrous “Soccernomics” by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski and Franklin Foer’s “How Soccer Explains the World,” which puts the globalization of the game into a political/economic context. And, considering the recent success of Uruguay’s national team in the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 Copa American tournament, Eduardo Galleano’s classic”Football in Sun and Shadow,” a poetic celebration of beautiful moments in the beautiful game, seems as timeless as ever.
I’ll confine myself to one more recommendation — Dave Lange’s “Soccer Made in St. Louis,” published earlier this year. The book is as colorful as the stories of the characters who made St. Louis a soccer capital in the United States — and for those who think American soccer dates back perhaps only fifteen years to the beginnings of MLS or 40 years to the original NASL, St. Louis boasted professional teams as early as 1906. A match between locals St. Theresa’s and Cycling Club drew a crowd of over 6,000 in 1897 and famed clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund were playing friendly matches in St. Louis against local all-star and semi-pro teams during the 1950s and 1960s. Filled with old photographs, the book also updates the current scene to include USWNT star Lori Chalupny and Hoffenheim’s Vedad Ibisevic, who played high school and college ball in St. Louis.
All the above titles look to be currently available at amazon.com.
Part book, part magazine, the Blizzard is a quarterly publication written by an all-star group of footy pundits tackling all manner of stories on the beautiful game around the globe. Subscriptions and individual back-issues are available, including both hard copy and digital. The Blizzard is definitely on the Fanatic’s holiday wish list.
Check out the SoccerPro.com site for values on jerseys, shoes, balls and practically anything else related to the game we love. There’s free domestic shipping in the U.S. on orders over $65, $7.99 for orders under that amount, and SoccerPro.com has partnered with Bongo International to create savings for customers overseas.
Having personally visited SoccerPro headquarters, meeting the people there, walking through the offices and warehouse, and also ordering items from their catalog, it’s easy for me to endorse SoccerPro as a cool company staffed by individuals who love the beautiful game and who are dedicated to getting your order right and getting it to you FAST. They also offer great stocking stuffer ideas, including items for those on a budget. One can also contact SoccerPro at 877-752-7776 — and don’t forget to check out the instant coupons by clicking on the ‘holiday alerts’ tab and to enter the ‘2011 Days of Giving’ contest which includes gifts such as $100 gift cards, a Manchester United jersey and EA Sports FIFA Soccer 12.
Historic Match DVDs
Alright, you’re favorite footy fan has bookshelves of soccer titles and a closet full of jerseys and shoes. Does that individual have a DVD copy of the 1974 Netherlands-West Germany World Cup final? How about the 1984 Champions League final between Liverpool and AS Roma? How about Pele’s farewell match, when the NY Cosmos played Pele’s former team, Santos of Brazil?
Dave Wasser has hundreds and hundreds of old NASL, MLS, World Cup, Champions League and Soccer Made in Germany games available. Check out his site featuring his amazing collection of historic soccer videos.
Finally, for readers living in the St. Louis, MO area, the Play Time soccer specialty store at St. Louis Mills in Hazelwood is always a fun stop, with a wide assortment of not only kit but also replica jerseys for children, banners, flags, shoes, balls, caps and all sorts of neat accessory items. Another favorite stop is the Flag World store at Mid Rivers Mall, which usually has some cool footy-related bargains, too.
Good luck with your giving ….and your receiving this holiday season.
Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section.
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