To the pure football fan even winning and losing is of secondary importance to those moments when a glimpse is afforded of footballing perfection, made more perfect still by the long and unpredictable hours spent waiting for it, and often the parade of tragicomic errors that has preceeded it. Such instincts, of exultation and despair, are brilliantly recounted in ‘Football in Sun and Shadow’, a parade of all shades of international football.
Beckenbaur, Yashin and Zico are here with their balletic dazzle. Here too are the tragic Escobar, guilty of an own goal for Colombia and gunned down in the streets of Medellin as a consequence; the English Captain Neille who led a World War I charge on a trench by kicking a football across no man’s land; and the Dynamo Kiev team who, although warned not to win a game against the Nazis could not resist the temptation on the football pitch to overrun their oppressors: all eleven were shot in their Kiev shirts after the ‘game’.
It is also a story of muses and spells: of the Argentinian manager who wouldn’t feed his team chicken because it would bring bad luck, of the Russian goalkeeper who prepared his mind and his nerves with a cigarette and a dash of spirits before each game. This is the glory of football in all its vivid international hues, with its multilingual cries of despair, victory and sheer passion.
This is Viva Pitch!
Reviews of Football in Sun and Shadow
‘A global history with the poetic flair of a Pele free kick.’ The Face
‘Galeano can run rings round our own glamorous football intelligentsia.’ When Saturday Comes