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Publisher's Summary

The summer of 2018: England sweltered in the most sustained heat wave for 42 years, the government tore itself apart over deals and no deals, and hundreds of miles away, in a taciturn and strange state, the national football team did the unthinkable in the World Cup: they didn’t screw it up.

The England team that touched down in Russia for the 2018 World Cup was a new-look outfit: there were no real stars, no overblown egos and no dickheads. Still reeling from the wincing exit to Iceland in the 2016 Euros, expectations were at an all-time low. Qualification had been smooth if not spectacular, and pundits and fans alike were lukewarm about the team’s chances. Just avoiding embarrassment would have counted as some kind of success. As the tournament kicked off, a stunningly stage-managed occasion by Putin and his cronies at FIFA, we all took a deep inhale of breath and waited for the inevitable: technical ineptitude and crap penalties.

How wrong we were. Over the next three weeks, as back home we dissolved in the heat, our football team gave us reason to believe. We squeaked a win against Tunisia, trounced Panama and had a great tactical defeat to Belgium to open up the draw to the final. We all bought waistcoats and eulogised Southgate’s calm, fatherly manner. We all fell in love with ‘Slabhead’, aka Harry Maguire. And we did it all to the tune of ‘It’s Coming Home’.

Barney Ronay was there through the whole tournament, crisscrossing Russia as he followed the England team, and the rest, on their quest for glory. Here, he captures the sights and sounds, the twists and turns, the bad food and the great football that contributed to making this World Cup one of the greatest of all time.  

©2018 Barney Ronay (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Vik
  • 09-01-2020

Reliving an odd world cup

A very good recollection of the events in Russia. Some good antidotes and some fascinating stories covering world cup as a journalist. Good book if you are a football fan.

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  • Vik
  • 20-01-2019

Reliving an odd world cup

A very good recollection of the events in Russia. Good book if you are a football fan.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 20-12-2018

The best summer of my life perfectly summed up!

I will always remember the summer of 2018. A 22 year who had never experienced the highs of England tournament success. The best footballing time of my life hands down and Barney Ronay perfectly retraced the glorious summer in Russia. Witty and insightful, uplifting and heartbreaking all at the same time - the emotions flooded back. On the back of the audiobook, I have bought this book for my brother for Christmas. Thank you Barney and thank you Gareth. What a time to be alive.

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  • Kieron Casey
  • 13-02-2019

Strangely joyless

For England football fans, 2018 was an incredible time to be a fan. You wouldn't know it from this book which fails to capture that excitement in writing. Neither does it reveal anything new in terms of facts around the tournament or squad, and there's little in the way of analysis either. Instead, the book seems to be full of references to the Guardian journalist detailing the dullest aspects of his profession and describing people who didn't even kick a ball at the turnament as looking like chipmunks, squirells or badgers. There'll be a great book on that glorious summer obe day but this isn't it.

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