The best football books that you need to read

Ali Rampling
The best football books you need to buy
The best football books you need to buy / Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

There's quite a lot of football on the TV at the moment, so if you fancy a break from all of that, why not read a book about the beautiful game instead?

Football books are an absolute minefield, with a plethora of choice on the shelves and online. We've made life a little easier for you and selected the very best ones that you can buy.

1. Ultra: The Underworld of Italian Football (Tobias Jones)

The winner of the Telegraph's Football Book of the Year award for 2020 is Ultra; Tobias Jones' exploration of the extreme, sinister side to football fandom.

With the violence, politics, extremism and crime of football ultras also comes passion and solidarity, and Jones investigates these footballing subcultures at some of Italy's biggest clubs.

Available to buy from Amazon for £7.99

2. St. Pauli: Another Football is Possible (Carles Vinas & Natxo Parra)

St Pauli are a unique football club. The German side have attracted a cult following, built around their left leaning politics and social activism.

St Pauli: Another Football is Possible details the fascinating culture, values and history of the club, from its life under Nazi rule to its global expansion today.

Available to buy from Amazon for £11.95

3. Klopp Actually: (Imaginary) Life with Football's Most Sensible Heartthrob (Laura Lexx)

What started out as a viral Twitter thread from comedian Laura Lexx during the depths of lockdown has blossomed into a full blown diary about what it would be like to be married to the pragmatic man of your dreams: Jurgen Klopp.

The book takes us to job interviews and IKEA with the Liverpool boss, and is a perfect bit of hilarious, escapism reading.

Available from Amazon for £7.19

4. Who Are Ya?: 92 Football Clubs – and Why You Shouldn’t Support Them (Kevin Day)

Comedian and presenter Kevin Day explores the history of all 92 English Football League clubs by speaking to fans, players and coaches, and his razor sharp humour radiates off the page.

It's a book by a fan, for fans. It's quirky, informative, interesting and very, very funny.

Available to buy from Amazon for £11.32

5. The Names Heard Long Ago (Jonathan Wilson)

The Guardian's expert footballing tactician and historian Jonathan Wilson delves into how the golden age of Hungarian football in the 1950s has shaped the modern game.

It's informative and heartbreaking, detailing stories of Hungarian managers who escaped the Nazis and the Soviet Communists while shedding light on a forgotten slice of football's history.

Available to buy from Amazon for £8.19

6. One Life (Megan Rapinoe)

The USWNT's talisman from the 2019 World Cup Megan Rapinoe lifts the lid on her success on the field, her activism off it and her personal family life.

In this honest and self-deprecating account, the two-time world champion opens up on suing the United States Soccer Federation with her teammates, her decision to come out publicly, and taking the knee to support Colin Kaepernick and the subsequent backlash she endured.

Available from Amazon for £14.99

7. A Game of Two Halves: Famous Football Fans Meet Their Heroes (Amy Raphael)

Published in partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, A Game of Two Halves charts honest, frank and funny conversations between football fans and their favourite footballing figures.

Claire Balding meeting Lucy Bronze, Wretch 32 meeting Ian Wright and Johnny Marr meeting Pep Guardiola are three of the 12 chats in the book, offering a great insight into the personalities and beliefs behind the players.

Available to buy from Amazon for £9.42

8. Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty, Football's Lost Genius (Oliver Kay)

Adrian Doherty is the greatest footballer you've never heard of. The winger progressed through the Manchester United academy in the early 1990s, and those who watched him and played alongside him insist he was as good as Ryan Giggs.

Oliver Kay tells the remarkable untold story of what unfolded after Doherty was offered a five-year contract at Old Trafford as a 17-year-old, shedding light on his gloriously eccentric personality.

The book takes its title from the Bob Dylan song Forever Young - for Doherty was an unconventional footballer who spent his spare time busking, writing poetry and worshipping Bob Dylan.

Available to buy from Amazon for £9.34

9. Forgotten Nations: The Incredible Stories of Football in the Shadows (Chris Deeley)

Forgotten Nations explores football's ultimate underdogs; the nations that don't actually exist.

The book charts the stories behind stateless football teams: teams not recognised by Fifa who have subsequently clubbed together to form their own tournament, the CONIFA World Football Cup. Chris Deeley tells their stories in his own distinct, quirky and funny voice.

Available to buy from Amazon for £9.09

10. Fever Pitch (Nick Hornby)

You can't beat a classic. Esteemed writer Nick Hornby's cult book about the trials and tribulations of following Arsenal is a must read, perfectly encapsulating the maddening love and frustration of being a football fan.

The funny, relatable book explores the obsessiveness of everybody's love for their football team, and Hornby writes how his love for the Gunners remains the one constant in a life of changing complications.

Available from Amazon for £4.92