You know Mundial mag as the spectacular-looking, beautifully-written, thinking fan's take on the game we all love.

Their latest venture is aimed at a different audience though. 

The Big Book of Football is for kids - a gloriously-illustrated introduction to everything that's great about the world's greatest sport... but it will definitely appeal to the big kids, too. 

We caught up with Mundial's James Bird to find out more.

 CK: Tell us, when did the idea for the book start?
JAMES: Officially, we were approached by Wide Eyed Editions, part of the Quarto publishing group, just over a year ago and asked if we’d like to write a kids book. But, really, I think everyone has an idea for a children’s book and probably wants to write one. So the opportunity for us, as people that work at a football magazine, to write one was never going to be turned down.
And, as you get older you remember the things you read as a kid with more fondness and realise that they probably had an impact on who you are as a person now. So, hopefully, this can serve as an introduction and celebration to all of the things that make football so brilliant for another generation.



CK: Was there any great debate as to what should be covered in the book?
JAMES: Big time. When we decided that this was going to be an introduction to or encyclopaedia on football as opposed to focussing on a particular tournament, or game, or era, or even player, we knew there’d be very difficult decisions to make. Doing a greatest XI is a nightmare if you’re asked it down the pub, so doing it for something that is going to be printed means you have to consider every last thing. The way we tried to do it was that if we left someone out of one place, we’d put them in another. Spread the names out. So, if there’s no room to mention Arsene Wenger in the most influential managers section, then we can talk about him while saying how good a Nagoya Grampus Eight shirt is.
We could just write a book solely about Wenger or solely about Nagoya Grampus Eight, so having to make decisions on whether Zinedine Zidane should go in the midfield are huge. Turns out, he does, alongside Michelle Akers, Stanley Matthews, and Johan Cruyff.
Hopefully, it means you can learn that Rinus Michels influenced how Manchester City played last year, but also that Roger Milla’s celebration in 1994 was just as important. Or that a Geoff Hurst hat-trick at Wembley is as important to know about as a Darren Bent goal going in off a beach ball.



CK: With it being a children’s book – how hard was it to choose the right illustrator to work with on this?
JAMES: The publishers put forward Damien and it was immediately apparent that he was the right person. His drawings are so imaginative, which is needed when you’re explaining what something like an onion bag or an early bath means. The writing has to be relatively straight throughout so it’s easy for children to understand, but that means you can go more out there with the illustrations: which is what Damien has done amazingly well.


CK: The book covers some of the greatest managers, players and teams – is there a topic, moment that didn’t quite make it in?

JAMES: Hundreds and hundreds of players, managers, goals, kits, boots, stadiums. Thing is: we love almost everything about football, so there’s so many things that had to miss out. They’ll be for next time.
CK: Is there any one thing you want the reader to take away from the book?
JAMES: I think the one thing we’d want a reader to take away from the book is that you can enjoy or be part of or be interested in football for so many different reasons. If it’s because you like haircuts, cool, like it because you like looking at haircuts. If it’s because you want to get obsessed with stats, you can like it because you’re obsessed with stats. If it’s because you do one of the drills in there and realise that you can be one of the best players in the world, then go at the drills. There’s so many facets to football and everything that surrounds it, that even if you’re not bothered about seeing people kick a ball into a goal, you can be arsed about another element to it. We hope that comes across in the book, and it’s why we’ve included pages on things like respecting the referee and the other jobs that people can do in football. It’s for everyone.
CK: The book feels like it’s for the big kid in all of us - the perfect book for a parent to share their love for the game with their son or daughter. Is that something you intended or just naturally comes through?
JAMES: We’re all big kids, really, and if you’re going to read a book with your child then you’ve got to enjoy what’s going on inside it. Also, though, we wanted to make sure kids could understand it without the need for their parent explaining things over the shoulder—they can run to another room and learn about the Preston team of the 1880s or Fergie Time or Ellen White’s goggle celebration without someone else telling them what it means. The drills mean they can go and practice, too.


CK: When creating the illustration’s with Damien – was it a simple case of you giving him the words and allowing him to run with it?
JAMES: It was different for each element. So, for the “How To” section which features a coach talking through the simple elements needed to play a defensive header or beat the offside trap, we sent Damien screenshots and YouTube clips so that he could get a hang of the techniques of specific players—let’s say Matt Le Tissier and his penalties. For other sections, though, Damien took the words and made the illustrations his own. Some of the stuff he’s done is just phenomenal. We like his brain.

CK: From concept to finish, how long have Mundial been working on this?
JAMES: We started concepting it by having meetings with the publishers at the beginning of last year, and then finished it by the end of the summer. So about a year.
CK: When does the book become available to purchase and where can people pre order it?
JAMES: The book is available for purchase now from Amazon and other high street retailers online. It comes out on 5th May 2020, which in the current climate is really something to look forward to.

CK: If the book ends up being the success we think it’s going to be, (we’ve pre ordered two already) can you see this being a series?

JAMES: We’d absolutely love that to be the case. Reckon we could a 1,120 page book on just boots, or shirts, or midfielders, or refs. Let’s see what happens.




It’s available in shops worldwide (including the US) from the 5th May, but you can preorder your copy online, now here. The first 100 people to preorder online will receive a FREE limited edition T-shirt. 


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