Book Review: John O’Farrell ~ There’s only two David Beckhams

A wonderful satire on football is exactly what’s needed in a post-World Cup period and this is that book. O’Farrell has made the wildly improbable plausible- including a Raheem Sterling goal.

The book begins with Tony Blair elected as a Master of the Universe. Blair hadn’t yet become a born-again war lord and still has some idea of what matters to the English voter. He resolves to rectify decades of under-achievement by creating a wonder team using science (naturally). Using historic footballing figures he has them cloned so they all reach their peak at the same moment. And that moment is the Qatar World Cup 2022.

O’Farrell’s satire includes numerous marvellous cameo pieces as this extended quotation shows:

Poland’s top goal scorer carefully placed the ball on the spot. He looked up to see the English keeper poised on his line, jumping up and down in anticipation. And then he ran up and kicked the ball with all his might.

And almost in the same instant the joyful sight of the ball bouncing off the crossbar, eighty thousand people exhaling instead of drawing breath; this gift of a goal had been thrown away and the penalty was missed. So hard had he struck the ball that it bounced back in a huge loop over the heads of all the Poland players who had been rushing into the box for any rebound as it sailed towards the halfway line. Here England’s Raheem Sterling had been waiting probably every game of his long career, for this incredibly unlikely possibility. Straight from a Poland penalty, Sterling was suddenly one on one with the Polish keeper. He dribbled, he swerved, he sent the keeper the wrong way, he tapped it in: 3-2!”

Does this book need any more recommendations when you realise this is just one superb example?

O’Farrell, John. There’s Only Two David Beckhams (pp. 109-110). Kindle Edition.

Why you should buy this book: It’s wonderful fun (remember that?)

Why you shouldn’t buy this book: You can’t believe that football is fun

Buy it at:


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