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Best books for football fans at Christmas 2023

With Christmas just around the corner, many football fans can look forward to enjoying a new book or two over the festive period.

Do you have some new football books on your wishlist or are you looking for some inspiration for a gift for someone else? How about a last-minute treat for yourself to help you unwind and relax at the end of the year?

There will be plenty of family time, eating, drinking and live football, whether it is in person or on television over the holidays, but there is something about a new read that captures the imagination of fans at this time of year.

In no particular order, here is a list of six of the best football books for Christmas 2023…

Six books for football fans at Christmas 2023

My Wrexham Story – Paul Mullin

Wrexham's rise from obscurity to League Two via celebrity ownership of Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney has been well-documented, capturing many headlines along the way.

A key protagonist along the way has been Paul Mullin. The 29-year-old striker signed for the Red Dragons in July 2021 and has long since confirmed his status as a lauded cult hero for the club. His goals have made a big contribution to the recent success on the pitch but My Wrexham Story provides a personal account from the Merseyside-born player.

“Here for the first time, Mullin tells his own story: his roots in Liverpool, the highs and lows of English football's promotion race, lessons learnt from his young son's Autism diagnosis, and what happens when Hollywood comes knocking at your door.”

Emancipation for Goalposts: Football's Role in the Fall of Yugoslavia – Chris Etchingham

The cross-section of football, culture, and politics is one where some of the very best football books are found and this release could be a contender.

Emancipation for Goalposts takes the reader to the Balkans for the story of the former Yugoslavia, the contested identities and nationalities, to describe how it all unravelled as civil war and destruction descended on this hotbed of football.

“From Tito, Arkan and Maksimir, to Italia '90, Red Star Belgrade's European triumph and what could have been, Chris Etchingham has created one of the definitive accounts of the inextricable links between sport, society and politics.”

We Play On: Shakhtar Donetsk’s Fight for Ukraine, Football and Freedom – Andy Brassell

As above, the theme of football and conflict continues for this entry on the list.

We Play On by Andy Brassell is the story of Shakhtar Donetsk from rebirth under independence to European glory and now, fighting for survival. The club has been exiled from its home in the Donbas region since 2014 with its stadium abandoned and destroyed by shelling in a situation that has been compounded by the war in Ukraine following the Russian invasion in February 2022.

“With direct testimony and exclusive interviews from those at Shakhtar, this book delivers unparalleled insight to the club's journey – one that is all too often hidden from view. The result is an ode to Shakhtar Donetsk, shining a light on the beauty and force of their football and their fight to play on.”

Shakthar Donetsk | One of the best books for football fans for Christmas 2023 is We Play On by Andy Brassell
Photo Icon Sport

Casuals And Their Clobber – Roo Oxley

For something a little bit different, this book takes us to the subculture of football casuals from a female perspective. Roo Oxley has weaved together the story of the casuals and the expensive designer labels that they wear as a badge of honour.

From the discerning football fan to the types who just want to keep up appearances, this book is an interesting one on the subject of a much-maligned group in football. Casuals are no strangers to notoriety, not always well-behaved but there is more to this story than the tabloid headlines.

“Speaking to key individuals involved in some way with terrace culture: inter-firms, inter-cities, international – they all reach for a joint conclusion centred around the future of brands for football casuals today.”

The People's Game: How to Save Football – Gary Neville

Youth team graduate, UEFA Champions League winner, England international, manager, commentator, pundit, co-owner – there aren't many roles in football that Gary Neville doesn't have experience in.

This book from the outspoken former Manchester United player is an appeal to reclaim the soul of the game before too much is lost to outside investors who are only concerned about the ever-increasing commercialisation of football. The book also takes aim at the proposed European Super League, as well as the greed of the Premier League for its failure to support the football food chain underneath that supports it. This is about more than a game, it's a national passion and a way of life for many, but a fix is required.

The People's Game is Gary's vision for a brighter future. Drawing on interviews with those at the epicentre of the sport's biggest issues – from the role of ownership to the lack of funding in the football league, the rise in racism, ownership models and the future of the women's game – he explains how football has sleepwalked into this mess and offers a new path forward. This is a passionate, personal and critical account of how football lost its soul, and what we can do to get it back.”

A Season With Verona – Tim Parks

Saving the best until the last? Quite possibly.

This book is not a new one but a classic of the genre that deserves to be shared and opened to new audiences.

Tim Parks, a renowned travel writer and educator, has written many books on his adopted home of Italy. The exiled Englishman also has a passion for football and this memoir of his access to, and experiences with the ultras of Hellas Verona will have you turning the pages with interest.

Hellas Verona fans
Hellas Verona | Photo by Icon Sport

Italian culture, travel, football, ultras, racism, belonging – all of this and more.

“The book hangs on the fixtures of Hellas with fabulous tension as they battle for survival but is so much more than just a football book. Part travelogue, part social investigation it is an absolute triumph. If this isn’t yet on your bookshelves add to your basket immediately. A book to return to again and again. Bravo!”