Search for your sports books:

Featured Publisher: John Blake
Apart form its current publications, John Blake Publishing has a sizeable back list of acclaimed sporting titles. These include biographies of stars such as Roger Federer, WG Grace, Fernando Torres and Frankie Dettori. For more information, visit

Read Review
<back to archive

Angels With Dirty Faces The Footballing History of Argentina By Jonathan Wilson

Release date: 14th August, 2016
Publisher: Orion

List Price: £20.00
Our Price: £13.60
You Save: £6.4 (32%)
Buy Now

“No country loves [football’s] theories and myths more than Argentina,” writes Jonathan Wilson in his comprehensive, but immensely readable and wonderfully-researched history of a nation and its long-term love for the beautiful game. It’s a love frequently evident on the international stage: Argentina has won two World Cups and lost in the final three times, and won the Copa Américas on 14 occasions, six more than Brazil. Not bad for a nation with a population of just 25 million.

Wilson, who lived in Buenos Aires, doesn’t try to divorce football from other aspects of Argentine society and write about the sport in isolation. Indeed, because football permeates just about every aspect of Argentina’s culture, this would have been impossible for him to do. Instead, the sweep of this enormous book, which runs to over 500 pages, covers everything from the peace of civilian rule up until 1930 and the constant upheavals that followed between 1930-76 when a total of 13 different governments came to power either in the wake of a military coup or were of an overtly military persuasion.

Despite this, Argentina has produced a number of exceptional footballers, from Sivori to Rattin, Bilardo to Kempes, Maradona to Messi – not forgetting di Stéfano.

Football took root in Argentina thanks to a large concentration of expatriate Brits. It was never part of the Empire, but it often felt like it and, as the expatriates created a miniature version of home, so football was introduced in 1867. The British developed banks, railways, trade, schools, hospitals and churches as they did across the globe, but it was a Scot from the Gorbals, Alexander Watson Hutton, who Wilson describes as Argentina’s “greatest football evangelist”.

Offered a job as a teacher in Buenos Aires, Hutton sailed from Liverpool in 1881 and would immediately put football at the core of his new school’s curriculum. A corresponding influx of Brits in the late nineteenth century resulted in the creation of the first football league outside of Britain – a forerunner to the AFL established in 1903.

Argentina’s nickname, the Carasucias, (angels with dirty faces) was first used after the country beat Brazil in the South American championship in 1957, when a legendary forward line, including Sivori (described as having “a less than rigorous attitude to training”), played with a flair and style commensurate with Argentina’s philosophy. Perhaps the next time we saw this was in 1978 when Mario Kempes, all hair and attitude, powered the home nation to World Cup glory. After reading this excellent history, you’ll be as convinced as Argentina’s football-loving population that it won’t be long before the Carasucias add to their two World Cup titles.

<back to archive


SBOTM Current Top 10

Running: Cheaper Than Therapy By Chas Newkey-Burden
Bloomsbury Sport
Read Review Buy Now
In The Zone How Champions Think and Win Big By Martin Brolin
Blink Publishing
Read Review Buy Now
Re: Cyclists 200 Years On Wheels By Michael Hutchinson
Bloomsbury Sport
Read Review Buy Now
Klopp: Bring the Noise By Raphael Honigstein
Yellow Jersey Press
Read Review Buy Now
The Boy on the Shed By Paul Ferris
Hodder & Staughton
Read Review Buy Now
Leap In By Alexandra Heminsley
Windmill Books
Read Review Buy Now
Berlin 1936 By Oliver Hilmes
Bodley Head
Read Review Buy Now
Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket By Stephen Fay and David Kynaston
Bloomsbury Sport
Read Review Buy Now
401: The Extraordinary Story of the Man Who Ran 401 Marathons in 401 Days and Changed His Life Forever By Ben Smith
Bloomsbury Publishing
Read Review Buy Now
One Goal A Coach, A Team and the Game That Brought a Divided Town Together By Amy Bass
Hachette Books
Read Review Buy Now

Amazon’s top 6 best-sellers

© Sharks Media Ltd 2004 – 2012. Site designed and maintained by Marcus Hamblett for Furydesign.