Soccer is the most popular team sport in the world. This sports practice arose in England in the nineteenth century. Today, major soccer competitions are organized every year around the world. Within this context, the book “Masters of Modern Soccer: How the World’s Best Play the Twenty-First-Century Game,” published in May 2018, written by Grant Wahl, an American sports journalist, and writer, is a book especially for the soccer lovers. The storyline of the book stands out mainly for reporting players’ perspectives on how to play successful soccer, tracing the profile of plays with important roles on and off the field, facing the pressure that soccer imposes on those who make these professions. The writer approaches tactical ideals and strategies lightly, without throwing a lot of information that confuses the reader, making reading the book interesting and pleasurable to read. Also, Wahl focuses his work on the perspective of prominent names in soccer such as midfielders Christian Pulisic and Xabi Alonso, forward striker Javier ‘Chicharito’, defender Vincent Kompany and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer about the efforts made to reach the top and become successful players.
Through reading this book it was possible to understand and learn a little about the relationship between effort and passion of athletes for the sport, and the importance of the process of evolution that has occurred since the soccer came into existence, for example. Soccer evolved from something grotesque for a game of modern soccer where, it is not enough just to have talent if there is no physical preparation, the athlete needs to match or be better than his opponent. In this regard, Physical Education played a very important role in soccer, it is clear if it is comparing a player of the ‘70s with a player today. Also, modern soccer requires frequent specialization and dedication from players from different positions on the field, requiring a larger skill set than in the past. Nowadays it is not enough for a goalkeeper to know how to play with the ball at his feet, or to cover the back of his defense, these are the only requirements among many others, the role that a goalkeeper must play on the field. Another important point in the book stands out when the writer focuses on the interview Christian Pulisic, where the player tells about his childhood, it is clear that the preparation of a player does not start overnight. A high-level athlete goes through an arduous path of preparation to reach the level of success. When we see some news that highlights players’ salaries, we wonder why that value for someone who just runs after a ball. However, we do not reflect on the effort that the athlete made to be there and the things he gave up and the pressure he suffered from all sides to reach that level.
As an amateur soccer player and a student of Physical Education, I understand that some of my perceptions about soccer are consistent with what the writer reports in the book about the interviews. Fitness, obedience, and dedication are the main points for any athlete in any sport. A physical educator does not become a physical educator overnight, the same applies to an athlete, there is a process to achieve the desired result. There is a whole theoretical part of learning until you get to the practical part, where physical education shows its importance to athletes. Without good fitness, it is difficult for an athlete to succeed in competitions and to perform in an injury-free season as a match lasts at least ninety minutes and fitness is the basis for athlete performance. Therefore, it is necessary to involve everyone, both athletes and the coaching staff and even managers. Today the basis of success in competitions is well physical preparation.
In his book, ‘Masters of Modern Soccer: How the World’s Best Play the Twenty-First-Century Game,’ Wahl took an approach that really enhanced my understanding of the game, or at least how the world’s top players think about the game, allowing me able to make a comparison with the game of feminine soccer. However, as a physical education teacher, I realize that this book contributes to improving the perception of the importance of the role of physical education within soccer. It helped to understand that a well-prepared player will become a better player and that this preparation begins even as children, with a preparation appropriate for the age at which the student is. Also, through the interviews presented in this book it was possible to learn and understand that above all safety and fun must always be present in the activities, whether within schools or in the preparation of athletes.
In conclusion, I recommend reading this book mainly for those who like football, but also for those who are starting with this sport. This book will help those who understand football improve their technical, tactical, dedication and effort understanding, and for those new to football, will describe the little things that make the difference between a good player and an excellent player through accounts from the perspective of experiences lived by people who understand the subject, the players. Also, for future physical education professionals, this is a great book that shows that the evolution of physical education played a very important role in the transition from the ’70s to the modern style of play. Also, the book will help to understand how to deal with athletes, as the writer gives us a perspective of players seeking to achieve their best physical performance, which makes a total difference in the lives of athletes in any sport seeking to reach the top.