From Guernica to Guardiola: How the Spanish Conquered English Football

From Guernica to Guardiola: How the Spanish Conquered English Football

by Adam Crafton


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Timed to coincide with the 2018 World Cup, the fascinating story of how the Spanish have transformed English soccer over the last eighty years.

As American television spectators witness on Saturday mornings, Britain’s Premier soccer league is increasingly dominated by Spanish stars, from David Silva to David De Gea, while managers such as Rafa Benitez and Pep Guardiola have helped to transform the way English soccer is played. But the origins of this particular Spanish invasion date back eighty years to 1937, when the Spanish Civil War led to a stream of refugees fleeing their country for the safe haven of the south coast of England. They learned the game here, before returning to Spain when it was safe to help clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Athletic Bilbao to La Liga success.

The Franco era broke that link, but in the recent years the reputation of Spain’s stars has grown, and every club wants to have a sprinkling of tiki-taka magic in its line-up. Adam Crafton has spoken to many of the key Spanish figures who have come to England to build up a compelling portrait of how they have had such a major impact on the game here. We discover how and why it is that some players, such as Cesc Fabregas and Xabi Alonso, have had great success here, while others have struggled to make an impact. Fernando Torres experienced both extremes. But this is not just a soccer story, pure and simple. Crafton provides the historical and social context that helps to explain how the relationship between the two nations is constantly changing, yet always close.

For anyone who enjoyed Jonathan Wilson’s Inverting the Pyramid or Sid Lowe’s Fear and Loathing in La Liga, this book is a revealing and brilliant insight into this most benign of Spanish invasions.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781471157134
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication date: 06/26/2018
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Adam Crafton began his journalistic career before he went to Cambridge University to study French and Spanish. A writer for the Daily Mail, he has been shortlisted four times for the SJA Young Sportswriter of the Year Award. He lives in London.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 The Princes of Southampton 7

2 Messi and the Midlander 33

3 Golden Goal 59

4 Apertura 70

5 Wembley Dreams 84

6 Teething Problems 113

7 Breaking Free 130

8 Misunderstood 156

9 Artists and Pragmatists 189

10 Magic Men 216

11 David to Goliath 243

12 The Modern Mister 264

13 Paving Pep's Path 285

Epilogue 316

Acknowledgements 321

Bibliography 325

Index 329

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