SHORTLISTED FOR THE WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR PRIZE. SUNDAY TIMES SPORT BOOK OF THE YEAR. From its late-Victorian flowering in the mill towns of the northwest of England, football spread around the world with great speed. It was helped on its way by a series of missionaries who showed the rest of the planet the simple joys of the game. Even now, in many countries, the colloquial word for a football manager is not 'coach' or 'boss' but 'mister', as that is how the early teachers were known, because they had come from the home of the sport to help it develop in new territories. In Rory Smith's stunning new book Mister, he looks at the stories of these pioneers of the game, men who left this country to take football across the globe. Sometimes, they had been spurned in their own land, as coaching was often frowned upon in England in those days, whe players were starved of the ball during the week to make them hungry for it on matchday. So it was that the inspirations behind the 'Mighty Magyars' of the 1950s, the Dutch of the 1970s or top clubs such as Barcelona came from these shores. England, without realising it, fired the very revolution that would remove its crown, changing football's history, thanks to a handful of men who sowed the seeds of the inversion of football's natural order. This is the story of the men who taught the world to play and shaped its destiny. This is the story of the Misters.
Rory Smith joined The Times as one of its leading football writers in 2012, having previously written for the Daily Telegraph, and he now writes for the New York Times. He worked with Rafa Benitez on Champions League Dreams, but this is his first book under his own name.
'It is in the small details of how the destinies of this band of proselytisers were forged that the book delivers such delights.'
– Ian Herbert, i
'A gratifyingly timely book. It explains how English football managers...were pivotal in making foreigners better at football than we are... So there is a strong seam of irony running through Rory Smith's excellent book.'
– Brian Viner, Daily Mail
'As well-travelled and erudite a journalist as you will find...the candour of Smith's writing is one of the book's most endearing traits.'
– Andy Brassell, When Saturday Comes
‘[A] fine book… [it] casts a fresh long-term perspective on footballing insularity, showing how British coaches helped bring the game to the world but found themselves and their insights forgotten or ignored at home.’
– Huw Richards, Guardian
‘Superbly researched story…An ideal read in front of a warm log fire’
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