The holiday season is upon us and that means, for some people at least, there will be a mad scramble for Christmas gifts.
If you happen to find yourself at a loss as to what exactly to get for the football-loving person in your life, fear not, Goal has you covered.
We’ve taken a look at some of the best things to buy for football fans this Christmas.
Football books & autobiographies
If the football fan you’re buying for happens to be a reader then there is a plethora of literature out there related to the beautiful game.
Autobiographies (check out our selections here ) are an obvious choice and they are usually quite accessible to any level of reader, though just be sure you don’t buy a book about a player they don’t like!
You’re likely to find popular titles such as Andrea Pirlo’s I Think Therefore I Play or Roy Keane’s The Second Half in most good book stores, but you may have to look online for more obscure or older titles.
Biographies – even unofficial ones – can also be rewarding reads. Titles such as Philippe Auclair’s Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King or Ronald Reng’s A Life Too Short , which tells the tragic story of Germany international goalkeeper Robert Enke, are just a few worth reading.
Of course, while the game is full of colourful personalities with stories to tell, it is also enmeshed within the myriad socio-political realities of the world and boasts a rich history worth delving into even if you don’t have much interest in the sport itself.
David Winner’s Brilliant Orange , for example, is a rigorous examination of the development of Dutch football in tandem with the quirks of Dutch society. Jonathan WIlson examines the evolution of football tactics in Inverting the Pyramid , while Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski takes a glance at football through the prisms of economics, statistics and psychology.
FIFA 19 or PES 19
There are two types of people in the world: those who play FIFA and those who play Pro Evolution Soccer (PES).
Football video games are an ideal gift for the football fan in your life who loves to play their X-Box or PlayStation.
EA Sports’ FIFA 19 has edged ahead in terms of popularity in the past decade, but there are plenty of PES loyalists, too. Either way, you need to be sure about which game to buy before splashing out.
Each game is available in different editions, which come with varying levels of perks. For FIFA 19 it is: standard edition, Champions Edition and Ultimate Edition. For PES 2019 it is: standard edition, David Beckham Edition and Legend Edition. Of course, those with the greater number of perks cost more.
The games have been out since early autumn, though, so do some sleuthing to make sure the person you are buying for doesn’t already have it.
Check out our guides to FIFA 19 and PES 2019 for more information, including how much they cost.
For young football fans wishing to emulate their heroes, having the jersey of their favourite players can make it feel like being one step away from playing for the team themselves.
Most high-street sports shops are well stocked with the replica jerseys of the world’s biggest clubs, but in some cases you will have to go directly through the club to purchase a jersey – this is particularly true for smaller, local teams.
If you want to go even further and can afford it, it might be an idea to get the name and number of the recipient’s favourite star on the back of the jersey. However, be warned that some people are not that fond of having a name on the back, so you have to be certain. If you are not sure, leaving the back blank allows the person receiving the gift the choice to add it themselves.
Retro football jerseys
An older football fan might appreciate a retro jersey, in which they can re-live the glory days of their youth while playing five-a-side with their friends.
Some official club shops sell popular old jerseys, but you may have to go hunting online for those of niche clubs.
Sites such as Classic Football Shirts, KITBAG and Toffs are good starting points in that regard, while eBay sometimes has good offers too.
Football Manager 2019
If you have a friend who believes they would do a better job than Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, Football Manager 2019 is the perfect gift.
Sports Interactive’s management simulation game is the most immersive on the market and it gives football fans the chance to put their tactical nous to the test. People who pay close attention to detail will love the game, with nearly every aspect of management included.
Players can jump straight in to the deep end by taking over one of the biggest clubs in the world or they can start off at the bottom of the football pyramid and rise through the divisions to the top of the game. There’s also the option of managing your country and taking them to the World Cup.
The game can be played on a PC or Mac, but there are also scaled down versions, known as Football Manager Touch and Football Manager Mobile, which can be played on tablets and mobile devices.
Be careful though, it can be addictive and the chances are that you may not see your friend for a few months after they get the game!
Click here to find out more about Football Manager 2019, including how much it costs, new features and more.
Tickets to see their favourite team
For many people football is experienced solely through a screen, but – whisper it – actually going to a game is where the real magic lies.
The entire matchday experience – from travelling to the stadium to being enveloped in the atmosphere – is something to be savoured, particularly if it is not a frequent occurrence. Getting your friend or loved one some tickets to see a game can be a nice gift at Christmas and it gives people something to look forward to.
It can be rather difficult to get your hands on tickets for games involving the big clubs like Manchester United or Liverpool, but it can be done with some forward planning and persistence.
A season ticket is another idea, but that will naturally cost more.
Click here to check out our guide to Premier League ticket prices for the 2018-19 season.
New football boots
For those who play a lot of football, new boots are a necessity and they would make for an ideal gift at Christmas.
Will it be Cristiano Ronaldo’s Nike Mercurial boots or the Adidas NEMEZIZ worn by Lionel Messi? Maybe it’ll be the Puma boots of Antoine Griezmann or what about the new Adidas Predator?
Whether the game is 11-a-side on grass or five-a-side on astroturf, there is no shortage of styles on the market from the various sportswear manufacturers.
Nowadays, boots come in all different colours, so it’s a good idea to find out what is preferred. And, of course, don’t forget to get the right size!
Is Christmas really Christmas anymore without the woolly wonder of a novelty jumper? If your answer is yes, then getting a football themed Christmas jumper simply isn’t up for discussion.
Most clubs have their own unique festive themed threads and it is simply a case of scouring through the online shops or paying a visit to an official store.
The likes of Arsenal and Real Madrid have gone for a straightforward style featuring Santa himself, but Juventus have a couple of different options in their ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater’ collection.
The 2017 edition, which is predominantly white with black symbols, is still available, but the 2018 version is surely the one to have, with a green and white colourway, not to mention the fact that part of the proceeds will go to the Save the Children charity.
Delightfully, too, (for England fans, at least!) one company has produced Gareth Southgate inspired Christmas jumpers, which takes its design from the waistcoat and shirt look the Three Lions boss has been fashioning since taking the reins.
British company notjust are behind the Southgate chic and their tag line, of course, is that Christmas is “Coming Home”.
Full disclosure: some of these gifts might not fit into an average stocking. But they are all great.
Socks are a staple of any Christmas gift bag and Juventus have a stylish range of seasonal foot warmers available from their online store, while Liverpool even have a packet of seven pairs – one for each day of the week.
Arsenal fans will be delighted to know that the Gunners are flogging a branded table football – or foosball – game. At 20 inches it is a compact version of the popular arcade game, easily portable for those visits to the relatives during the holidays.
Some might say that Real Madrid have a monopoly on the Champions League these days and that might be subject to debate, but they really do have their very own Monopoly board game. That means you can fall out with your family while taking a journey through the history of Los Blancos.
What about a musical toaster? Bayern Munich are selling a toaster which plays the club anthem, Stern des Sudens (Star of the South), when the toast is ready. Breakfast with a serenade – exactly what any Bayern fan needs to set them up for the day.
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