"Lord, I don't ask that I should win, but please, please don't let me finish behind Akabusi."
World football records
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Keir Radnedge, London, Carlton, 2018. ISBN 878178739The 10th edition of World football records is a goldmine of football records, facts and trivia, complete with literally hundreds of full colour photographs. The material is arranged in seven sections with two appendices. The first section is on countries followed by sections on the world’s major tournaments, the World Cup and regional events. The final section is on women’s football.
There is literally a fascinating fact on every page: Among the things I learnt from the book are:
Why international appearances are referred to as caps;
Why Real Madrid changed their name in the 1930s.
I also learned Graham Poll is not the only referee to award two yellow cards to a player in a World Cup game without sending him off.
The book will also tell you who the smallest and tallest England players are and indeed the most capped Croatian and Bulgaria’s leading goal-scorer and 1,000 similar facts. I know you’ve always wondered who Andorra’s most capped player is. That such an obscure a fact is included in the book is an indication of how comprehensive the coverage is.
Could you list England’s 19 managers since 1945?
Poor old Martin Palermo is included. In 1999 he took three penalties for Argentina in a Copa America game and didn’t score any of them. And talking of Argentina, when Daniel Passatella was coach of his country he only chose players with short hair – this fact is included under the heading “fringe players”.
There are some amusing one liners, like Danny Blanchflower’s famous one on the Northern Ireland tactics “to equalise before the other team scores”.
The book is truly international with, for example, 10 pages of African football records. I am writing this review in the week Gibraltar won a competitive football match for the first time ever. There are at least three listings of football records involving that country.
The comprehensive coverage of the football World Cup includes sections on coaches and goalkeepers, there is even a photograph of Gareth Southgate’s waistcoat.
The section on women’s football is 10 pages long. I think it is fair to ask if 10 pages out of 256 on women’s football is sufficient coverage.
Overall an excellent book to be read, dipped into or consulted when necessary.
Finally, to stop you lying awake at night. Players in the first ever international football match wore caps while playing and the tradition was started. Because Real is the Spanish for royal, the club dropped the word from its title when Spain became a Republic.