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Forza Italia: The Fall and Rise of Italian Football

Paddy Agnew

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi
Forza Italia: The Fall and Rise of Italian Football by Paddy Agnew
Cover concept by Lorenzo Princi, 11th September 2013

Having read a number of player biographies and journalistic books relating to Italian Football, I was hesitant at committing to another on the subject, fearing a "more of the same" type affair. Paddy Agnew however, gives a very personal account of his time as a foreign journalist living in Italy and this perspective gives a fresh take on the subject of Italian football. Agnew focuses not so much on giving a history lesson, but rather focusing on key events that have shaped the culture of Italian football from a media perspective.

Beginning with a very biographical account about he and his wife's transfer to Italy, which part way through the early chapters will make you forget you are even reading a book on football. This is no negative however, as the migration story is quite interesting in itself and sets up the outsiders perspective. Once it begins focusing on Serie A and the Italian National team, Agnew decides to select key sociopolitical aspects, such as Maradona's time at Napoli in the early to mid 80s, Berlosconi's blending of Politics and Football in the late 80s and early 90s and the doping trials of the late 90s. Agnew covers a lot of ground, filling the books with personal touches in order to give it a real sense of first handedness.

One of the best stories in the book is actual one you'll never read elsewhere where Agnew journals the career of a lesser known, lower division goal keeper, whose Career was stunted despite his talent. The account is perhaps the most telling insight into the disturbing politics and culture of Italian football.

Despite some errors minor factual errors, such as the final score of Italy and Argentina's 1990 World Cup semi-final (which really don't matter in the overall scheme of things), this is a superb book on Italian Football by a great Irish journalist and commentator.