Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Greatest Comeback: From Genocide to Football Glory: the Story of Bela Guttmann Hardcover – January 9, 2018 by David Bolchover (Biteback Publishing)

Packed with insight and interesting debate, The Greatest Comeback is both deeply poignant and extremely topical. David Bolchover has expertly woven one huge, tragic strand of twentieth-century history together with a great footballing story.

Béla Guttmann was the first of a breed of globetrotting superstar football coaches, achieving his greatest successes before Pep Guardiola or José Mourinho were even born.

He was also a Holocaust survivor. In 1944, much of Europe had wanted Guttmann dead. He hid for months in an attic near Budapest as thousands of fellow Jews in the neighbourhood were dragged off to be murdered. Later, he escaped from a slave labour camp before a planned deportation and almost certain death. His father, sister, and extended family were murdered.

But by 1961, as coach of Benfica, he had lifted Europe's greatest sporting prize―the European Cup, a feat he repeated the following year. From the death pits of Europe to champion of Europe in little more than sixteen years, Guttmann performed the greatest comeback in football history.

An extraordinary and compelling account of the life of football coach Béla Guttmann.

David Bolchover is an author and commentator. He has published three previous books, including the bestselling 90-Minute Manager (Pearson Education, 2002), which explored the various management styles of the great football coaches. He has written for a number of leading newspapers, such as The Times, The Telegraph, and the Financial Times, and has frequently appeared on the BBC, Sky, and other broadcast outlets.

Béla Guttman is a very important figure in the history of football. But much of his story remains relatively unknown and obscure. This author spent a lot of time and effort to recover what was buried for decades and retell the story of a great football coach and an unlikely survivor. The author traveled to a lot of places and visited many people to make his research novel and important. I do not know if he is a top tier story teller, but this book is still a lot of fun to read.

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