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11 must-read books for all fans of Italian football

11 must-read books for all fans of Italian football


Finesse your Calcio knowledge and get thinking like an Italian maestro with these 11 books.

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If you grew up in the ’90s, you’ll have loved tuning into Channel 4’s Football Italia on a weekend. Since then, Italian football has remained something of a romance for many fans.

In the modern age, Italy is still the home of defensive masterpieces and chess-like tactics – though gone are the days of door-bolt football. Recently, Italy are playing some fantastic and flamboyant football, even taking home the Euros title this summer under the management of Roberto Mancini. 

These 12 books are written by authors who have discovered something unique and special in Italian society and realised how it translates into their football. After reading them, you may want to book a ticket to Italy to find out what all the fuss is about for yourself.


Tim Parks writes with wit and realism about his adoptive country, Italy, in a season-long account in which he traveled both home and away to support every Hellas Verona match. The book documents all the highs and lows of a Serie A season that went right down to the final whistle, whilst shedding light on the not always pretty side of Italian fan culture.

Get it from Amazon for £7.99

Italy’s Ultras are known globally as some of the most violent football fans the world has to offer. Tobias Jones digs deep to discover where the political thuggery ends and the passion for football begins. In his discovery of the darker side of football, he discusses not only the big clubs such as Juventus and Roma, but smaller ones like Catania and Cosenza.

Get it from Amazon for £7.99

Calcio (meaning ‘football’ in Italian) is one of the most successful books out there on Italian football. John Foot is a professor of Modern Italian History so he really knows his onions. Written in the aftermath of Italy’s World Cup victory that saw Zinedine Zidane’s swan song red card, Calcio tells the humorous story of Italian football from 1890 to the present day.

Get it from Amazon for £11.99

Irish journalist Paddy Agnew moved to Rome in 1985 in pursuit of Italian football and has lived there ever since, assimilating himself so well that he’s now a commentator for national TV station RAI. His fascinating book, Forza Italia, is filled with interesting knowledge from how Berlusconi went from AC Milan owner to Prime Minister, to how Maradona became the “uncrowned king of Naples”. 

Get it from Amazon for £10.55

Joe McGinniss’s classic book follows the small club Castel Di Sangro, “a team and a town with no aspirations, just a passion for the game”, as they rose to the top of Serie B in their inaugural season against seemingly impossible odds. It’s described as a modern football fairytale that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

Get it from Amazon for £9.34


Swedish loudmouth Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s autobiography is fantastic for so many reasons, it transcends categories at times. Taking after his idol Ronaldo as one of the few players audacious enough to represent both AC and Inter Milan at the San Siro, Zlatan tells the story of how he managed to win over Milan’s Ultras with heart and humour.

Get it from Amazon for £8.19

Andrea Pirlo is one of the finest footballers of his generation, a true gentleman and icon of the game. He was awarded man of the match in Italy’s 2006 World Cup victory over France. The Italian playmaker tells his story in his own words and candidly takes the reader behind the scenes at three of Italy’s biggest clubs – Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus.

Get it from Amazon for £7.79

Carlo Ancelotti has been touted as one of the most underrated successful managers in recent history. Free from touchline histrionics, Ancelotti has steered many teams to success and won titles both domestically and in European competitions as a player and manager. In his autobiography, Carlo Ancelotti gives leadership and managerial advice that can be applied in everyday life as well as on the pitch.

Get it from Amazon for £9.34

Herbie Sykes gives insight into the Italian football dynasty of Juventus who are still owned by the Agnelli family, despite the fact their name has been synonymous with corruption and match-fixing for 100 years. This book explores the scandalous history of Turin’s greatest club, warts and all.

Pre-order on Amazon for £9.67 (release 21 October 2021)

Legendary Italian player Gianluca Vialli partnered up with sportswriter Gabriele Marcotti to create an analysis of football itself. They compare Italian Calcio with the English game to see what similarities and differences come from the two football-mad countries, and if “the national stereotypes of Italians as passionate, stylish lotharios and the English as cold-hearted eccentrics still hold true when they kick a ball around?”

Get it from Amazon for £9.52


Zonal Marking is an incredibly well-researched book that strips apart national footballing identities over the years to see what they have contributed to the modern game. It gives a good analysis of the tactically advanced Italian league in the 90s and how we can still see echoes of it across the game. 

Get it from Amazon for £8.99