A Book Review – Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football

Posted: December 6, 2011 in Book Review
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With the season over I’ve had a chance to sit down and get back to reading some books.  One that I picked up was this book by David Winner.  It was a great book about the culture of the Dutch, not just their national past time.

Winner dives into the history of Total Football from its origins at Ajax and through the Dutch national team’s run of success in the Euros and the World Cups.  He not only explores the beautiful attacking soccer of the Netherlands, but he spends most of the book looking at the history of the country and the ties between Dutch culture and their football.

This is a great read for anyone who is a fan of Total Football, or soccer in general.  It’s a very interesting read that may approach the game in Holland a little differently than you’re used too.

Winner’s biggest interest is in the lack of success the Dutch have for winning the big tournaments.  Ajax had a strong run of success at the international level from 1971-1995 winning four European Cups/Champions League, especially the run that won them three in a row in 1971, 1972, and 1973.  But on the national side the Oranje have only experienced success once, winning in Euro ’88, but failing to ever lift the World Cup trophy in spite of being in the final three different times.

The world over agrees that the 70’s and 80’s marked the dominance of Total Football, but the culture seemed to lack the missing ingredient to make them world champions.  In fact Winner dives into the Dutch psyche to explore the lack of passion fans showed for the games themselves, especially the loses.

It was a very interesting read that was enjoyable to explore one of the countries that has impacted the game as much as any other world power.  I highly recommend this for anyone who is a fan of the Dutch or a fan of soccer history in general.

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