The first history of Italian football to be written in English, ‘Calcio’ is a mix of serious analysis and comic storytelling, with vivid descriptions of games, goals, dives, missed penalties, riots and scandals in the richest and toughest league in the world.
‘Calcio’ tells the story of Italian football from its origins in the 1890’s to the present day. It takes us through a history of great players and teams, of style, passion and success, but also of violence, cynicism, catenaccio tactics and corruption.
We meet the personalities that have shaped this history – from the Italian heroes to the foreigners that failed, the model professionals to the mavericks. ‘Calcio’ evokes the triumphs (the 1982 World Cup victory) and the tragedies (Meroni, the 'Italian George Best', killed by his number one fan), set against a backdrop of paranoia and intrigue, in a country where the referee is seen as corrupt until proven otherwise.
Calcio is no longer a game. It is sometimes difficult to define it as a sport. It is certainly big business and a fanatical civic religion. There is no moral code here. Winners are always right, losers always wrong. This history of Italian football reveals all about the richest and toughest league in the world.
‘“Calcio: A History of Italian Football” reveals more about the national character than any dry study of politics or economics ever could. This is a hefty work but there is so much going on that the pace never slackens. Foot is a meticulous and knowledgeable guide to his complex subject and leaves the reader wanting to investigate further.’ Andrew Baker, Daily Telegraph
‘John Foot is head over heels in love with calcio, and his detailed, thematically structured account of its past and present is overwhelming evidence of that.’ Independent, Sport Section Book of the Week
'An excellent chapter on British failures in Serie A but it's the many scandals that one keeps coming back to.' Observer Sport Monthly
'Foot's exemplary history shows how football and Italian society are inextricably intertwined, and is full of fascinating vignettes.' Sunday Times
'Highly readable… “Calcio” has set an impressive benchmark for football histories in general.' Sean O'Connor, Soccerpile.com
'Like a match-winning penalty taken in extra time, this is a book not to be missed.' Oldie
About the author
John Foot is Reader in Modern Italian History in the Italian Department, University College London. His previous books include ‘Milan since the Miracle: City, Culture and Identity’ and ‘Modern Italy’. He writes for the Guardian, the London Review of Books, and the Times Literary Supplement. He lives in London and Milan.