For some of you, the name Elliott Turner may ring a bell. Perhaps it’s the articles he writes for The Guardian about soccer culture in the United States. Or maybe you’ve seen his witty tweets from his @futfanatico account and blog.
Whether you feel you know him or not, Elliott is a breath of fresh air in world soccer, often making you think or chuckle at his wit or ability to cut through a topic to get to the heart of the discussion.
Recently, I had a chance to interview Elliott about several topics including his recent books about the beautiful game.
Here is the interview:
World Soccer Talk (WST): You’re known as quite a prolific Twitter user who often pens irreverent tweets. Where or who did you get your sense of humor from?
Elliott Turner (ET): Both my parents are medical professionals and have gallows humor, a necessity for keeping sane in the ER. My father also loves Monty Python and I was raised on it, so sarcasm and dry humor were spoonfed to me at a young age. Twitter has actually been a bit tough as my following has grown to people the world over – some jokes require a US background, and I really have toned things down to respect cultural sensibilities. At the same time, as a half-Mexican and half-American, I feel the need to shed light on the stereotypes, flaws, and humorous nuances of both cultures.
WST: What soccer teams do you support, and how did you fall in love with the Beautiful Game?
ET: I love and have loved Real Madrid since the Hugo Sanchez-era. He was a beacon of hope for Mexico and hero for many Mexicans, and, despite his failures as the coach of El Tri, I love him. In the 1990’s, I had a Paraguayan friend introduce me to Manchester United during the heyday of Giggs, Scholes, Beckham, and Cole, so I’ve followed them closely for a few decades. Of course, I follow closely my hometown team Sporting KC. It’s been exciting seeing some kids like Matt Besler who played for the same youth team I did (but later) blossom and reach dizzying heights.
WST: Why did you decide to write a book on the rivalry between Real Madrid & Barcelona?
ET: At the time, there was no American author who had written about the rivalry from an American perspective. It struck me as odd – in the US, as in Spain, we have great sports rivalries like the Celtics-Lakers and Yankees-Red Sox, but we’ve also experienced a brutal Civil War as in Spain. I did a Kickstarter to raise some funds and gauge interest, and the result was overwhelming.
WST: What makes your book unique?
ET: In addition to being from an American perspective, two thing stand out. First, Erik Ebeling, a brilliant artist, did original illustrations of key figures in each club’s history. From Cruyff to Koeman, Hugo Sanchez to Di Stefano, they really jump off the page. Secondly, most other authors have written books in a bit of a haphazard episodic form: they jump from one character and incident to another. My book is chronological and easy to follow and thus witness the growth of these two teams and also their animosity.