In this witty and rebellious history of world soccer, award-winning writer Eduardo Galeano searches for the styles of play, players, and goals that express the unique personality of certain times and places. In Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Galeano takes us to ancient China, where engravings from the Ming period show a ball that could have been designed by Adidas to Victorian England, where gentlemen codified the rules that we still play by today and to Latin America, where the “crazy English” spread the game only to find it creolized by the locals.
All the greats—Pelé, Di Stéfano, Cruyff, Eusébio, Puskás, Gullit, Baggio, Beckenbauer— have joyous cameos in this book. yet soccer, Galeano cautions, “is a pleasure that hurts.” Thus there is also heartbreak and madness. Galeano tells of the suicide of Uruguayan player Abdón Porte, who shot himself in the center circle of the Nacional’s stadium; of the Argentine manager who wouldn’t let his team eat chicken because it would bring bad luck; and of scandal-riven Diego Maradona whose real crime, Galeano suggests, was always “the sin of being the best.”
Soccer is a game that bureaucrats try to dull and the powerful try to manipulate, but it retains its magic because it remains a bewitching game—“a feast for the eyes ... and a joy for the body that plays it”—exquisitely rendered in the magical stories of Soccer in Sun and Shadow.