Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer by David Winner is a book that explores the history and culture of Dutch football.
Winner takes readers on a journey through the development of Dutch football from the 1960s and 70s to the time the book was published in 2000. He examines how the Dutch psyche, pragmatism and post-war societal experience helped create a uniquely Dutch brand of football.
Winner also looks at the impact of Johan Cruyff, who embodied the free-thinking of Dutch football’s awakening, and the second great era of Dutch football in the aftermath of the 2010 ‘Clogs of War’ final against Spain.
The book also delves into the cultural aspects of Dutch football, such as the partying culture and the urge to label things the easy way. Winner argues that this desire to play beautiful football over winning at all costs explains Dutch players’ distain for penalty shoot-outs. He also discusses how Cruyff laid the foundations of Holland’s European successor to Total Football, Spain.
Overall, Brilliant Orange is an insightful look into the history and culture of Dutch football. It provides readers with an understanding of how the Dutch culture, religion and other factors led to the success of Dutch football in the 70s and how they were able to play such exquisite football.
What I Liked
The book is fun and fascinating. I paired it with The Ball Is Round.
What I Did Not Like
It’s pretty niche – I wouldn’t read it as a stand-alone. Pair it with some other soccer books to read in a cluster.