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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  140 ratings  ·  11 reviews
The inside story of the England soccer team in Italy during the 1990 World Cup. The author researched the story with help from players, managers, agents, officials and fans.
Mass Market Paperback, 471 pages
Published November 18th 1995 by Mandarin
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Jun 06, 2013 Simon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: sport
Reading this was even better than watching the tournament. It's a true fan's account of what it is to watch football. Nick Hornby is fine for those who haven't truly got it in the blood, but Pete Davies is the real thing.

When it first came out I had a number of aspiring footballers who wouldn't read in my tutor group. They all read this...and a few went on to read a few other books I had on my desk at the time---A Rough Ride, I Lost my Heart to the Belles, Jonathan --- even some non-sporting boo...more
Christopher Athey
A pivotal moment in football that had significant underlying impact on the commercialisation of sport is expertly considered in this part historical account, part journal. Perhaps more importantly, from the authors perspective and ours, the work expands and reflects on an great sporting event that beckoned a sea change in the mood and cultural outlook of a generation of football supporters.

In June 1990 the England football team and supporters travelled to Italy to take part in Italia 90, beginn...more
Aidan Williams
The World Cup can always be relied upon to provide tales of sporting heroism and drama; joy and pain; smiles and tears in equal measure. Many nations’ sporting histories are inextricably linked to their successes and failures in the World Cup. Eras are defined by it. For England, in amongst the many disappointments, there are two lofty peaks. 1966 is the loftiest of all of course, but 1990 came within a whisker of matching it.

Against a backdrop of European isolation thanks to the post-Heysel ban...more
Dave Wharton
I still wake up at night wondering what would have happened if England had won the penalty shoot-out...

Written at a time when there was no ubiquitous World Wide-Web, few tell-all football biographies, and far less intense media scrutiny on footballers' lives off the pitch, this thoroughly engrossing 'behind the scenes' account of the goings-on in England's World Cup 1990 camp was unputdownable from start to finish.
Alejandro Shirvani
Brilliant sports writing and a kind of book that probably couldn't be written today: the author got embedded access to the England camp, the FA, and mixed with the rank and file fans in Italia '90 to write a well-rounded book that not only covered the tournament but discussed the leading issues in the game at the time: the split between administrators and fans, the uneasy relationship of the media to the players (and fans). This was written at a pivotal time in English football where we were jus...more
Mark Hirst
My favourite book ever, unlikely to ever be surpassed. Only book I've ever read twice
This book is tremendously entertaining. One of my favourite books of all time. The chapter on John Barnes deserves a review in itself.

The original title of the book was "All Played Out" and this confused me for a while. The book (with the original title) was MUCH more expensive on Amazon. This version is a much more reasonable price and from what I can see is basically the same book.

There is also a film with the same title but in my opinion is is not comparable. The book really captures the roma...more
Peter Wanless
This is an absolutely magnificent book which captures the mood of Italia 90 superbly. It's the best book about football I have ever read but it's a great piece of history too. With access to players and officials that would never be granted now, and players who engage in a way they would never be permitted to now, what you get is a fabulous insight into how England came so close to a World Cup Final despite an appalling start.

There is so much to dislike: hapless officials in Italy and at the FA;...more
Peter Boyle
With the World Cup on the horizon I decided to read this recognised classic as a means of whetting my appetite. It gives a gripping account of England's journey through Italia 90 as well as the effect of the World Cup on the soccer-mad Italian nation. I enjoyed the football aspects of the book - the honest and revealing interviews with Bobby Robson, Chris Waddle and Terry Butcher are fascinating. The stories around the disastrous organisation, reporting on hooliganism and cronyism in the FA I wa...more
Paul Mcloughlin
Extremely enjoyable and entertaining read about the 1990 World Cup, and in particular the England team's epic journey to the semi-finals. Great to read lengthy, thoughtful interviews with good football men like Robson, Lineker, Barnes, Waddle etc. The portrayal of the England fans was more nuanced and thought-provoking than we are used to. A good read about a time when football was on the cusp of massive changes.
Ystyn Francis
A little meandering at times, but overall a fascinating look into the ways of English football, particularly relating to strategy and hooliganism. This was the last World Cup before I started watching them so it was nice to be surprised by the results and the genuine tension that this created.
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