You Review: Who Invented the Bicycle Kick? – Paul Simpson and Uli Hesse

Reviewed by Richard Metcalf

There’s something in Who Invented the Bicycle Kick? by Paul Simpson and Uli Hesse to delight any reader: whether you’re a long-term footie fan, a North American who has just woken up to the wonders of football played with the feet, or you just enjoy learning a weird factoid or two to astound your mates. To give a small taste of the treats in store for readers of this highly entertaining volume, here’s a short quiz:

  • Which Danish footballer once faked his own death by shooting during a match, and why?
  • Whose pre-match ritual involved taking a slug of whisky, strapping his ankles with a full tin of tape, and having the team’s striker store his false teeth in the empty tin for the duration of the game?
  • Which Scottish goalkeeper was sent off for destroying the frame of the goal not once but twice in the same match?
  • How many professional matches have descended into such mayhem that the referee sent off both entire teams: all the players, including the substitutes, as well as the managers and technical staff?
  • Whose transfer to Manchester United was sealed with a freezer full of ice cream?

If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, this book will also tell you:

  • Which team won a European Cup match after failing to score in a penalty shoot-out
  • Where to draw inspiration if your team is 5-0 down with just 7 minutes left on the clock
  • The source of the legend that the Uruguayan team trained for the 1924 Olympics by chasing chickens
  • The sad truth behind the binge-drinking which inspired Paul Gascoigne’s “Dentist’s Chair” goal celebration at Euro 96
  • And why a team once made a 20,000 mile round trip to play a domestic cup match (and, no, it wasn’t a Scottish team competing for the “Proclaimers’ Trophy”).

Still not convinced? Just imagine you’re racing towards the goal and you take a shot, giving the ball such an almighty wallop that it explodes and then crosses the line with its bladder hanging out: is it still a goal?

With over 100 similar gems packed into around 275 pages, these pocket-sized snippets of soccer trivia are the perfect reading matter for a grown man in the little boys’ room with time on his hands.

“Are you alright in there, dear?”

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Ebook available of Who Invented the Bicycle Kick?.