Monday 17 June 2024

BLOG TOUR: Narcoball: Love, Death and Football in Escobar's Colombia - David Arrowsmith

Pablo Escobar had one obsession. Not drugs, not money, not power... football.

Narcoball uncovers the incredible story of Colombian football during the early 1990s - shaped by drug lords, rivalries, and ambition. With untold insights from the players and politicians, it uncovers a football empire backed by cartels - where victory was a currency of its own, and defeat, a matter of life and death.

This is a different story of Pablo Escobar and his rival. A tale of clandestine deals that reshaped Medellin's football clubs, where fortunes were won and lost. It unveils the extraordinary bonds that Escobar forged with football's luminaries and why his influence reached unprecedented heights, leading to the astonishing 5-0 victory over Argentina in Buenos Aires, the murder of referees, and the ruthless coercion of officials culminating in the killing of Andres Escobar - the Colombian defender who paid the ultimate price for an own goal in the 1994 World Cup. It is also an examination of a people's relationship with both the sport and the nefarious leaders that brought both pride and terror to their communities.

Set against the U.S War on Drugs, international threats, and government clampdowns, this is a gripping exploration of Colombian club football under Escobar's rise and fall.

What did I think?

As a longstanding football fan, I was immediately drawn to Narcoball.  I mean, who could forget Carlos Valderrama in Italia '90?  Not just for his impressive hair but for his silky footwork. Then there's Andrés Escobar whose coldblooded murder shocked the world of football in 1994.  This is as much their story as it is Pablo Escobar's and it is absolutely fascinating.

I didn't know much about Pablo Escobar before reading Narcoball so it was really interesting to read about his life and to understand more about the man beneath the famous drug lord.  One thing I'll say about Pablo Escobar, he really loved football.  It is both eye-opening and jaw-dropping to read about the lengths he went to in order to see and play the beautiful game.

Colombia were one of the most exciting teams in Italia '90 and were tipped for the title in USA '94, but what the world didn't know was that the players had a huge weight on their shoulders.  As if the pressure of playing in the World Cup wasn't enough, their lives were at risk if they didn't perform well.  Andrés Escobar was the unfortunate player who lost his life after scoring an own goal and I think it's important to remember him as it's such a waste of a young life and he should still be alive today.

If I didn't know that this was a true story, I would think it was a Hollywood blockbuster filled with guns, drugs, gangs, bribery, prison and a relentless chase for the capture of a wanted man.  It's absolutely astounding that all of the things in the book actually happened.  There is also a photograph section in the middle of the book to really bring the story to life.

David Arrowsmith's research is meticulous and his love of the game is evident throughout this engrossing book.  Narcoball is a must-read for both football fans and true crime fans.  I really enjoyed it and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from:

About the author:

David Arrowsmith was the Director of Development at leading UK factual TV producer Zig Zag Productions. He has worked in television for over 20 years - developing unscripted ideas and acting as Executive Producer on key projects for companies such as October Films, DSP, Channel 5, Granada Television, and the BBC. He is passionate about history, and just some of his key commissions include '1966: Who Stole the World Cup?', 'Britain's Bloodiest Dynasty', '8 Days That Made Rome', and 'Adolf & Eva: Love & War'. He was also involved in the development of the award-winning, Nobel Peace Prize-nominated documentary 'Sri Lanka's Killing Fields'.

David was born and raised in London but is proudly half-Colombian. In fact, he is the great-grandson of a former president and directly descended from four more. He has played football for over 35 years and has no plans to stop just yet.

Follow the tour:

1 comment: