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Brilliant Orange is a book about Dutch soccer that's not really about Dutch soccer. It's more about an enigmatic way of thinking peculiar to a people whose landscape is unrelentingly flat, mostly below sea level, and who owe their salvation to a boy who plugged a fractured dike with his little finger. If any one thing, Brilliant Orange is about Dutch space, and a people whose unique conception of it has led to some of the most enduring art, the weirdest architecture, and a bizarrely cerebral form of soccer-Total Football-that led in 1974 to a World Cup finals match with arch-rival Germany, and continues with its intricacy and oddity to mystify and delight observers around the world.
"In the hot summer of 1975 Wim van Hanegem was offered the chance to leave his beloved Feyenoord and join the French club Olympique Marseilles. . . He couldn't decide what to do. . . So he turned to his dog: 'We can't decide. It's up to you now. If you want to go to Marseilles, bark or show me.' For several minutes the dog and Van Hanegem stared at each other. The dog didn't move. 'OK' said Wim, 'he doesn't want to go. We're staying."
The cast stretches from anarchists and church painters to rabbis and skinheads, and of course, to Holland's beloved soccer players, whose eccentricities are wryly detailed by David Winner through hilarious anecdotes that call to mind Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch. As idiosyncratic as its subject, quirky and provocative, Brilliant Orange reaches out to the reader from an unsuspected place and never lets go.
"Occasionally a book comes along that you fall in or out of love with on the basis of nothing more than the contents page . . . Brilliant Orange is one of those strangely informative books that will even entertain those who have little interest in either soccer or the Netherlands." (The Economist) [via]