Watching the beautiful game through the eyes of one who knows.
Gullit has experienced nearly everything there is to experience in the game of soccer, at every level. A former Dutch international player and star for multiple European clubs, including AC Milan and Chelsea, the author was a world and European Player of the Year renowned for his positional flexibility and a manager who brought Chelsea its first major title in more than a quarter century when they won the FA Cup in 1997. For years, he has also been an incisive and respected TV analyst. All of his credentials make him ideally situated to explain how best to understand the world’s most popular sport. Using myriad—though never gratuitous or self-indulgent—examples from his own career as a player and manager, Gullit peers below the surface and encourages readers to do more than simply watch the ball. After a few short autobiographical chapters, all geared toward setting up his varying perspectives on the game, Gullit runs through the many facets of soccer, from the systems, patterns of play, and positions to overarching strategy and nitty-gritty tactics to the various teams and players who make the game so compelling. He is not afraid to dive deep into the minutiae of soccer’s fine points even as he elucidates the big picture, and diagrams helpfully illustrate certain plays or modes of play. Because Gullit originally wrote the book in his native Dutch for a European audience, his perspective and many of his examples come from both the Dutch professional game and the Netherlands national side, but this shouldn’t be a negative for American readers interested in soccer; it grounds him in a particular context.
A passionate insider’s approach to understanding a game that seems so simple but contains almost inexhaustible complexity. Read this for background and then turn to Eduardo Galeano’s poetic Soccer in Sun and Shadow for further illumination.