Goalkeepers Are Different

Everything you've ever wanted to know about
goalkeepers and a little bit more

Recommended Reading

Below is a list of football books that have kept me entertained over the years on my travels that I think visitors to this site would enjoy. Naturally, the majority of the books listed are by or about goalkeepers but there's also a general selection of excellent reads on the wider game of football. If you like the sound of any of them, you can purchase them online from Amazon.co.uk by clicking on the links provided.

Goalkeeper Books

glove storyGlove Story
Billed as the Number One book for every goalkeeper, past and present (and with good reason!), Glove Story is a compendium of goalkeeper facts and trivia from the team that brought you the acclaimed Got, Not Got series. Regular visitors to the website may recognise a fair few of the lists and anecdotes from Goalkeepersaredifferent.com that have been included in the book but you'll also find a couple of contributions from site's author, including a fine piece on goalkeepers of the silver screen! A must for goalkeepers everywhere and all profits go to Bob Wilson's Willow Charity!
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The Goalkeeper's History of BritainThe Goalkeeper's History of Britain
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The Goalkeeper's History of Britain is a comic blend of the personal and political seen through the eyes of former BBC Foreign Correspondent and amateur ‘keeper Peter Chapman. Based on the whimsical premise that Britain's character as an island nation finds its sporting embodiment in the shape and stance of the man between the uprights Chapman's chronicle of the 20th century weaves a funny and charming tapestry of personal recollection and saloon-bar history lesson. He argues that the game itself has waged war against the goalie - from the days when a striker could bundle keeper and ball across the goal line and score to the indignities of the passback rule - and that the best of us is found in our struggles to "keep a clean sheet". A superb read from start to finish.
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The Keeper of DreamsThe Keeper of Dreams
The Keeper of Dreams retells the remarkable tale of German goalkeeper Lars Leese, who went from keeping goal for a non-league district side to running out at Anfield as Barnsley's first choice custodian during their brief stay in the Premiership in little over a year. The award-winning book pulls no punches as it recounts his life with the Yorkshire side but what sets this aside from your average footballing biographay is Lars Leese himself. He is alarmingly honest and not afraid of airing his own dirty linen in public. As a result, you find yourself having a genuine affection for the player, especially towards the end of the book when his alarming descent from the world of Professional football begins to have an adverse effect on his family. A thoroughly entertaining read and an enlighting insight into life as a Premiership footballer.
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The Outsider: A History of the Goalkeeper
Jonathan Wilson, author of Inverting the Pyramid, traces the history of the goalkeeper, from humble beginnings in the Victorian era to the present day, exploring how the position has secured a certain existential cool, despite bing a thankless task most of the time. Some the game's greatest goalkeepers are put under microscope and examined in fine detail and the author also investigates whether history has been unfair to the much-maligned goalies of Brazil and Scotland. A must-read for anyone who has ever been a goalie.
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In the Way! Goalkeepers: A Breed Apart?
Nick Hazlewood's book is a superb account of the life of a goalkeeper and contains a large collection of highly entertaining annecdotes featuring such an array of talents as Gordon Banks, Pat Jennings and Lev Yashin not to mention Bruce Grobbelaar, Rene Higuita, David Icke and Pope John Paul II! It takes a light-hearted look at the pressures goalkeepers face, the dangers they confront, the pitfalls they brave and the methods they use to survive an otherwise very lonely life. Eye-opening, enthralling and informative, it is also very very funny. An enjoyable read from start to finish.
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He Always Puts It to the Right
Although the author's tone can grate at times, He Always Puts It to the Right is quite simply the best book about penalty taking (and saving!) money can buy. All credit to the author - who sadly died before the book was published - as he undertakes an otherwise thankless task to prove that yes, you can use science to save a penalty. The results, however, seem to sugges that it is still 10% skill and 90% pure luck but we all knew that anyway. A must if you want to know the origins of the spot-kick and its development through the course of the game.
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Banksy: My Autobiography
Since retiring from football, Gordon Banks has had very little to do with the professional game, apart from a stint on the British pools panel, and it seems strange that a player so highly regarded was allowed to drift away from the sport. In this respect, you won't find much about the game after 1972 this book's not about modern day football. It's about one of the all-time greats and in this respect, you won't be disappointed. Time has not dulled Banks' memory and he can vividly recall the events that made his name all those years ago. Along with the highs and lows of his career, there's that save from Pele and he doesn't disappoint, remembering every detail of a split-second that occurred 32 years ago in Mexico. If anything, this books goes someway in demonstrating that goalkeepers don't just take off and hope for the best, but it also highlights the downside to the game with Banks' openly honest about the car crash that ended his career. Definately worth a read.
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Harry's Game: An Autobiography
The word brave has lost its meaning in the World of Football. A manager is often cited as showing great bravery for playing three strikers up front, for example. Harry Gregg climbed back into a burning aeroplane to rescue a woman and her baby plus several of his team mates yet refuses to acknowledge the bravery he showed that day. Of course, the Munich Air Disaster casts a dark shadow over this book, but Gregg doesn't shy away from the subject and describes the incident in touching detail. He also doesn't hide his resentment over how the survivors were treated by the club. Yet to concentrate on these chapters in Gregg's life would be an injustice to the career of a very talented goalkeeper. A stalwart of the Busby Babes and a key figure in the Northern Ireland squad, Gregg was one of the best goalkeepers of his generation, a fact recognised by Sir Matt Busby who paid a then world record fee for the custodian.
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Bob Wilson - Behind the Network: My Autobiography
From the highs of winning The Double with Arsenal in 1971 to the lows of the personal tragedies that have blighted his life, Bob Wilson is alarmingly honest throughout this surprisingly captivating autobiography. Unlike the majority of football books of a similar ilk, Wilson actually has a story to tell, which takes the reader on journey from his childhood in Chesterfield to his playing days with Arsenal and beyond and his life a broadcaster and presenter. He is articulate and candid throughout, reciting a story that The London Evening Standard described as "absorbing and uplifting".
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Buy it now!Goalkeepers Are Different
One for the kids (of all ages...)! Brian Glanville's superb novel about the life of a professional goalkeeper. The story follows Ronnie Blake, a rising young goalkeeper, in his career from apprentice through injury and rejection to making it to the first team and the thrill of running onto the pitch in front of a roaring Cup Final crowd. The book that gave this site it's name...
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General Football Books

With Clough, By Taylor
First published back in 1980, shortly before Nottingham Forest had retained the European Cup, Peter Taylor's book on Brian Clough is a captivating read. In a first-hand account told with immense candour, Taylor reveals the highs and lows of their relationship, and details the events that led to their unprecedented success, offering a fascinating insight into the mind of Britain's greatest coaches. Taylor is honest in his appraisals of certain players, from those who were already at the City Ground when the pair arrived to those they bought and later sold. A page turner in every sense and a must read.
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The Title: The Story of the First DivisionThe Title: The Story of the First Division
Prior to the formation of the Premier League, the First Division was the prize to win. Many of the teams haven't changed and it is an odd statement to make considering both represented the top tier of English football, but people forget how rich the old division was. Author Scott Murray takes the reader through a journey that reminds them of the time when the national game was dominated by the likes of Burnley, Wolves, West Brom and Portsmouth rather than Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. Old favourites such as Don Revie, Bill Shankly and Brian Clough come naturally to the fore but this as an affectionate love-letter to the English game, and a delight for any football fan.
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Black Boots and Football Pinks: 50 Lost Wonders of the Beautiful Game
If you liked Daniel Gray's Saturday, 3pm, you'll love the follow up, which explores some of football's lost treasures. Admittedly not all of the fifty listed have been lost forever - clubs still employ caretaker managers, for example - but it is a minor gripe. The book is unashamedly nostalgic but it's hard to avoid being so when you wax lyrical about goalkeepers in trousers, Ceefax, turf patterns, pixelated scoreboards and Saturday evening pink newspapers, the "gritty stardust that made football sparkle". A lovely trip down memory lane that is bound to resonate with fans of a certain age. I for one miss those Cup ties that seem to go on forever...
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Rock 'n' Roll Soccer: The Short Life and Fast Times of the North American Soccer League
Ian Plenderleith examines the superstars, hype, cheerleaders and razzmatazz of the North American Soccer League from its early, embryonic beginnings to the heydays of the 1970s when it lured the biggest name in the world of football to the United States. While the likes of Cruyff, Best, Beckenbauer and Pele stole the headlines, the book reveals the fortunes of average journeymen from the English and Scottish leagues who gave up a life in the reserves of the lower divisions for a life of glamour, sun and big cars. Anecdotes abound in this excellent read for all thos who remember when football in America eclipsed everything the rest of the world had to offer.
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71/72: Football's Greatest Season?
Take a nostalgic trip back to the early 1970s, when football was much simpler than it is today. A time when players shared pints with fans, A&BC football cards were schoolyard currency, Roy Race ruled the comic world and teleprinters saw footy devotees hold their collective breath every weekend. 71/72 is a treasure trove of tales of lesser-known names who added to that extraordinary season and will evoke memoris of watching Match of the Day and The Big Match on black & white tellys before running outside to play football with your mates in the park. An enjoyable read for those that remember such halcyon days!
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Get Shirty: The Rise & Fall of Admiral Sportswear
For a brief period, Admiral ruled the roost when it came to football kits. Their bold designs and equally bold colours changed the face of football and brought a much needed flourish to team strips up and down the country. Get Shirty tells the story behind those kits - including Coventry City's infamous brown away strip - and the people who not only made them but also ensured that replicas were readily available for fans to buy. It's a fascinating tale of how a small clothing manufacturer in the Midlands changed the game forever when they won the contract as Englands kit supplier before they disappeared under the weight of expectation.
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A Tournament Frozen in Time: The Wonderful Randomness of the European Cup Winners' Cup
A homage to the forgotten sibling of the European and UEFA Cups. All three major European club competitions had very distinct personalities, almost like three markedly different children but while the European Cup was for the high achievers and the UEFA Cup was where the cool kids often hung out, the Cup Winners' Cup threw its own uniquely eccentric shapes. The random nature of domestic cup success brought a richer diversity of competitor than its more celebrated counterparts. A trophy which eluded the clutches of European royalty such as Real Madrid, Liverpool and Inter Milan, it remains the only European honour of both Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, despite their contemporary financial advantages. The tournament which immortalised the likes of Magdeburg and Dinamo Tbilisi and gave English football its first ever European glory.
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Only a Game?
The football book that broke the mould. The 1973-4 season that began so well for the Republic of Ireland international Eamon Dunphy with Millwall at Cold Blow Lane and ended in disillusionment and a transfer to local rivals Charlton Athletic. This is his diary recording events from the dressing room during those critical months and offers a previously never before seen insight into life of a professional football club during the 1970s. The anecdotes about former Manchester United and England star Gordon Hill are worth the cover price alone. A must read for all football fans, no matter who you support.
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Tor! The Story of German Football
Ah, German football. The antithesis of Brazil and the Beautiful Game - or so certain pundits would have you believe. Tor! not only dispells that theory but buries its completely, tracing the rise of German football from its humble beginnings through to the present day including accounts of Schalke 04's rise to glory in the 1930s, the 'Miracle of Berne' and the World Cup triumphs of 1974 and 1990. It challenges the myth that German football is predictable or efficient and brings to life the fascinating array of characters who shaped it, from pioneer Walther Bensemann and the genius Sepp Herberger to the all-conquering Franz Beckenbauer and the modern misfit Lothar Matthäus. Well worth a read, for as Alec Baldwin says in 'The Hunt for Red October', "It is wise to study the ways of one's adversary...!"
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When Footballers Were Skint: A Journey in Search of the Soul of Football
With the modern game awash with money, it will seem strange to some that professional footballers did not always enjoy the wages and luxuries afforded to their modern day contemporaries. More often than not, the games biggest names earned roughly the same as the local plumbers and electricians, and many players would complain that a fine in wages would mean a missed gas bill. This book explores a time when footballing legends such as Tom Finney and Stanley Matthews shared a bond of borderline penury with the huge crowds they entertained on Saturday afternoons, on pitches that were a world away from the pristine lawns of the game's modern era. Based on the first-hand accounts of players from a fast-disappearing generation, When Footballers Were Skint delves into the game's rich heritage and relates the fascinating story of a truly great sporting era.
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The Turning Season: DDR-Oberliga Revisited
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc also saw the curtain fall not only on East Germany as a nation but also their football league. The Turning Season traces the 14 clubs that made up the Oberliga, the country's top flight, in that final season, exploring their unique tales and stories that were all but hidden from the West prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Each chapter focuses on one club, from From Aue in the Erzgebirge mountains to Rostock on the Baltic Sea, evoking not only what football was like behind the Iron Curtain, but what has happened since, including the pecularities that were seemingly part and parcel of East German football.
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Passovotchka: Moscow Dynamo in Britain
In 1945, Dynamo Moscow embarked on a short tour of Britain in the name of peace...a month later they departed, leaving a trail of controversy in their undefeated wake having beaten Cardiff, Chelsea and an all-star Arsenal side that was little more than a full-strength England team with numerous guest players from around the country. This fascinating story sheds light on the state of British football at the end of the war and the thinking that surrounded the game at the time - the training sessions that consisted of little more than endless laps around the pitch and the cold chicken buffets - and paints an incredible picture of two cultures helplessly colliding both on and off the pitch. It may read like an urban myth but it really did happen.
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Got, Not GotGot, Not Got: The A-Z of Lost Football Culture, Treasures and Pleasures
If you remember Shoot's League Ladders, craved Subbuteo'a TV tower or still have your Panini sticker album from the 1982 World Cup Finals then this book is for you. Unashamedly wallowing in nostalgia, anyone who grew up following British football in the Sixties and Seventies will instantly relate to the assortment of novelty items that have long been consigned to the dustbin. The memories will come flooding back with the turn of each page as the authors remember such innovations as football boots with studs that swivled, football-themed pyjamas and the heated futuristic tent that enabled Leicester City beat the big freezes of the mid-1970s. A must of anyone that still gets goosebumps everytime they hear the opening trumpet fanfare of The Big Match.
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The Nowhere Men
Every football fan believes they are a great judge of talent and like to think they could spot the next Peter Shilton enjoying a kick around at the local park if the opportunity arose. Michael Calvin's intriguing look into the world of the humble football scout somehow manages to make the job sound like the most romantic existence imaginable. If it wasn't for the long hours driving up-and-down motorways, the diet of re-heated pies and tepid tea at grounds around the country that is. However, but for the dedication and struggles of these dedicated men, then who knows how many talents would have gone undiscovered. A fascinating read that puts the spotlight onto a much underated area of the game.
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From Delhi To The Den The Story Of Football's Most Travelled Coach
If you've ever wondered what life is like as an international coach then this is the football book for you. A must for anyone interested in footbal, travel and adventure, it follows Stephen Constantine's colourful career, from a modest, professional footballer in the United States to a much respected football coach and FIFA advisor. It's a globe trotting tale of success and misfortune, from the Cypriot Fourth Division to World Cup qualifiers and beyond - He has hugged a pitch-invading prince in Kathmandu, been threatened with kidnap in Khartoum, seen a Millwall chairman tip £10,000 onto the changing room floor, and once watched his goalkeeping coach attack a pitch invader in Congo. Many in the game allege to have seen it all, but there is no one with a better claim to such a statement than Constantine, a veteran manager of six different national sides across four continents!
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Steak ... Diana Ross: Diary of a Football Nobody
If you're fed up with reading ghostwritten autobiographies from today's footballing superstars, this entertaining tale of life as a professional footballer during the 1970s is the perfect anecdote. A world away from today's game, players are threatened with suspension and a fine of a week's wages for failing to shave while manager Jimmy Sirrell attempts to hold back a rampant horde of football hooligans with a bunion scalpel. The fastest car you'll find within these pages is a Ford Capri - although several players attempt to upstage this by racing back from training to Meadow Lane in whatever mode of transport is available at the time - and a solitary pineapple in the players' lounge is the nearest thing you will get to an exotic import. One of the few books to make me laugh out loud on the train journey home, "Steak... Diana Ross" is guaranteed to put a smile on your face if nothing else!
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Dynamo: Defending the Honour of Kiev
Formed from the ruins of Dynamo Kiev following the occupation of the Nazis during World War Two, FC Start came to represent the hopes and future of a city occupied by a brutal regime. As mad as it sounds, the Germans actually organised a football league during their occupation - consisting of several military teams from the Fatherland, Hungary and Rumania plus two Russian teams - but their bid to use this league for their own propaganda means came unstuck when the former players of Dynamo Kiev refused to lay down and die. Not your average football book by any means, and one that puts that midweek defeat away to your nearest rivals into perspective.
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