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La Roja: How Soccer Conquered Spain and How Spanish Soccer Conquered the World

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  245 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
"La Roja" is bestselling author Jimmy Burns tremendous opus on Spanish soccer. From its early beginnings when the first soccer on the shores of Bilbao and Buenos Aires was played by British sailors and engineers, through to the influx of South American stars, and similarly inspirational Italians, Dutchman and Scandinavians, Burns show how the engagement of foreigners with ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 29th 2012 by Nation Books (first published May 1st 2012)
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Jul 15, 2012 John rated it liked it
A very detailed history of soccer in Spain both at the club and national team levels. I was impressed with Burns’ research and even more impressed with his interviews. Over the course of the last decade he has interviewed nearly every important person in Spanish soccer who is still alive. What the book lacked for me was the verve and spice to add interest to the topic. The book is not badly written, just a little dull.

What surprised me most about the book was the down-playing of the political t
Sep 14, 2014 Chris rated it liked it
It was interesting, and there are plenty of good stories here, but I sometimes found the style distractingly uneven.

For example, several times I had to re-read a passage in order to parse the meaning, and the author occasionally interrupted the third-person narrative with first-person anecdotes. Those issues aside, if you're interested in the history of soccer in Spain through the World Cup win in 2010, this book has you covered.
Jul 23, 2012 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
If you don't know anything about Spanish soccer prepare to be bombarded with the names of many Spaniards and Englishmen you will soon forget. This is a very comprehensive look at the growth of soccer in Spain, at times enthralling and at other times sleep inducing. I wish there were more pictures of some of the characters described in this book and by characters I really mean characters. The coach who brought two national rivals together for the World Cup win in 2010, Vincente Del Bosque, lots o ...more
Oct 16, 2013 Cesar rated it it was amazing
Really great read on the history of the Spanish game.
Some editing errors and I thought it swerved here and there at times. Lost focus.
For ex., weird anecdote about Capello and Beckham both liking jamon serrano.
But overall, an eye opening, wonderful journey through Spain and the history of Spanish football.
Highly recommended.
Jul 13, 2014 Caleb rated it it was ok
A massively underwhelming effort. The review made it sound like an interesting take by a well-regarded newspaper columnist on soccer in Spain. The result starts out decently and then tails off. It skips around so much at times I wondered if my book was missing pages. Other stretches at the back started repeating anecdotes from 25 pages before. What's stranger, the whole point was about Spain finally triumphing in soccer at Euro 08, WC 10, and Euro 12. However, there is literally a page on Euro 0 ...more
Kayle Barnes
Jun 29, 2014 Kayle Barnes rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book because I enjoyed Spain's victory in 2010 and had high hopes this summer. Also as a Barça fan I thought it would give me an overview of the ideas behind the national team and how the different clubs contribute to it. I realize the book I actually wanted to read was probably about Barcelona's history. In light of Spain's disappointing performance this World Cup, the last paragraph seems scarily prescient: "I would like to believe that this journey through Spanish soccer ...more
Feb 13, 2013 Raul rated it it was ok
That a book like this exists is a good thing. Unfortunately, the author fails in weaving the history of Spanish soccer into a cohesive narrative and instead reduces the subject to a laundry list of anecdotes and soccer celebrities: "There was this coach who did this and that. Oh, there was also this other player that...And that reminds me of this story where..." As proof of the meandering, incohesive style of this book, there are literally paragraphs in this book that begin with the phrase: "But ...more
Jul 13, 2012 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delving, as it does, into Spain, "La Roja," has as much to do with politics as with that country's world champion national soccer team.

Jimmy Burns has written an amenable yet substantive story about how Spain went from a bullfighting nation to kings of international football.

He goes way back to the 1880s and an English-owned mine in Huelva where the first games of football were played exclusively by Brits. The journalistic knitting continues as Basque teams assert primacy and then Argentines co
Hector A
Apr 05, 2013 Hector A is currently reading it
The purpose of “La Roja” is to let know the reader more about a sport that took over Spain. It was a sport that many people from Spain enjoy playing. Their favorite sport was soccer, it changed many peoples life’s in a positive way. It says that “millions of people view the sport and many of them gather at the capital to welcome their team back.”(page 1) They welcomed Spain’s team back because they went to the 2010 World Cup. The people living in this country were very excited and happ
Mar 30, 2013 Ty rated it really liked it
i love books about soccer and this one was a fascinating mix of soccer and the cultural/political dynamics of Spain from the time that soccer was introduced to the country by the Brits in the late 1800's to the current time of the Euro and World Cup winning Spanish national teams.
the book focuses, as any discussion of Spanish futbol inevitably will, on the enduring rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid, tracing the paths of each from founding through the Spanish Civil War, the Franco years,
Niranjan M
If you can survive the first couple of chapters that talk about the history of Spanish football, this is a speedy read. Unfortunately for me, that wasn't the case. I learned a LOT about Spanish football - its origins, its history, its struggles and finally, its triumph. This is not a dramatic book which tells a tale of a failure-to-overwhelming success story, but one that chronicles in detail the travails and triumphs over the last century or so.

The chapters are chronological, but there are a l
Aug 15, 2012 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I really enjoyed this book, I realize that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Burns offers a detailed account of Spanish national soccer, from its beginning by English colonials to the current World Cup-winning team. The short chapters make it pretty easy to read, and they cover a variety of political and social issues that have affected the development of Spanish soccer, from the underlying tensions between Basques, Catalans, and Castilians, and the meaning of what it is to be Spanish; the S ...more
Josh Brown
Dec 28, 2012 Josh Brown rated it it was ok
Shelves: spain-flamenco
Burns provides a great deal of information regarding the history of Spanish players, rivalries, and clubs as well as an overall history and evolution of soccer on Spanish soil. He tends to skip around quite a bit, but I suppose that is to be expected in a book of this sort. He also repeats himself many times - and when I say "repeat", I mean essentially cut and paste his own words repeatedly to describe subjects in identical phrases over and over (sometimes even in the same chapter, as the case ...more
Tag Garibay
Jul 05, 2012 Tag Garibay rated it really liked it
This was a great book, especially for a lover of the game of football (soccer). Burns details how the main European sport brought the people of Spain, under the Republic and under General Franco. This book shows the history of soccer in spain from the pure spanish Real Madrid, the only-basque team of Athletic Bilbao, to the pride of Catalonia, FC Barcelona. Burns provides history of the game, its great figures and accomplishments, leading up to the great triumph of the 2010 South Africa World Cu ...more
Steven Pilling
Apr 15, 2013 Steven Pilling rated it it was ok
This is a hard book to review , Burns is very good on Spanish football but the scope that the book has to cover is too broad.

It lacks a sense of society or spain, the format selecting key people works but you feel its like skimming a pebble over the water rather than diving in, you want more information you want more context but it isnt here.

It will give you some facts you dont know it will give you some information but it wont make you think bloody hell i need more information.

This book is poo
Nathaniel Rayestu
May 18, 2013 Nathaniel Rayestu rated it really liked it
A well-written well-researched book on the history of Spanish soccer. Jimmy Burns eloquently provided the political and socioeconomic contexts that goes together with the development of Spanish soccer. He tells one by one the stories of the early beginnings of Spanish soccer in Brittish mines, the soccer under Franco years, and finally how it achieved its golden years today. Must read for Spanish football fans, or football fans in general.

Feb 18, 2013 Keith rated it really liked it
A history of a century of Spanish soccer, from its humble beginnings to La Roja's 2010 World Cup victory. While the book covers a lot of ground, one consistent focus is the two super club teams Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. While at times dense with detail, this is a must-read for any soccer fan or anyone interested in Spanish culture and history.
Rob Innis
Nov 09, 2012 Rob Innis rated it really liked it
Well researched and supported with lots of interviews, in depth analysis of the whole Spanish football culture. Jimmy Burns was born in Madrid and is passionate about this topic. Well worth reading - even if you are not a football fan as it is all part of the Spanish scene.
Jul 31, 2012 Victor rated it really liked it
If you're interested in a cursory knowledge of the Spanish game, this is the book for you. A good, quick historical look at the development of Spanish soccer from the late 1800s to current times. The short, compact chapters make it an easy read.
Sep 27, 2012 Rod rated it liked it
A history of football in Spain. I'm quite ignorant of Spanish history, but found it interesting how much of Spanish football ( and everything else, apparently) were impacted by the Civil War and how regionalized football in Spain was.
Nov 04, 2012 Jackie rated it it was amazing
According to this book, God made Athletic Bilbao on the 8th day, and Franco was an idiot lunatic. I hear both are correct.
Kevin Mcshane
Sep 02, 2012 Kevin Mcshane rated it liked it
some good history of Spanish futbol, but the writing is not very engaging.
Fiona O'reilly
Sep 17, 2013 Fiona O'reilly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Great combination of history & soccer. A potted history of Spain!
Lisa Kelly
Jan 14, 2013 Lisa Kelly rated it really liked it
I learned a great deal about soccer.
Omar Alqayyeh
Dec 23, 2012 Omar Alqayyeh rated it it was amazing
Best book about spanish football
Chris marked it as to-read
May 25, 2016
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Charles Warner marked it as to-read
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May 20, 2016
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Edward Potter marked it as to-read
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From the author's website:

Jimmy Burns was born in Madrid in 1953. His father the late Tom Burns met his mother Mabel Maranon while working in the British embassy in Madrid during the Second World War. Jimmy contributes Spanish language media outlets and publishes his books in Spanish translation as Jimmy Burns Maranon. His childhood was spent straddling cultures -Britain, Castille, and Catalonia.
More about Jimmy Burns...

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