Matt Oldfield talks Unbelievable Football 2

1. I remember Gary Mabbutt from my childhood and having football loving brothers, do you have any plans to include the players from the 80s and 90s in your football series  or do you want to keep to modern stars?

Yeah, gotta love Gary Mabbutt! We have written about some older superstars in our Classic Football Heroes series (Maradona, Beckham, Gerrard), but it would be great to have more. I think kids are definitely interested in learning more about the legends of the game who they hear grown-ups talk about. The current superstars in the Ultimate Football Heroes series will always come first, though!

2. The story I liked the best in your book was the one of Mario Balotelli, it just made me smile, what’s your favourite story in the book?

Ha, everything Balotelli does is brilliant! I find it really hard to pick a favourite story from Unbelievable Football 2 because there are so many and they’re all so different. Can I pick two? I’ll go for 1) Rose Reilly, the Scottish footballer who won the World Cup with Italy, and 2) ‘JJ’ Roble, the UK’s first female Muslim referee. I wanted to tackle some really serious and important subjects in Unbelievable Football 2, like poverty, discrimination and climate change, but I’ve also included a ‘Weird and Wonderful’ story in each section, like the Balotelli one, for a bit of extra fun.

3. What’s the best piece of advice for children dreaming of becoming an author?

I know it sounds simple but read, read, read! An author gave me that advice when I was a child and it has stayed with me ever since, I guess because it’s so true. The more you read, the more story ideas you’ll spark in your own imagination, but also the more ideas you’ll absorb from others, both in terms of style and story. ‘Ooh, I like the way they did that!’ you think and then you try it for yourself, and that’s where writing started for me.

4. As a librarian I spend a lot of my time matching the child with the right book. What piece of advice could you give me to encourage boys to enjoy reading more.

I know it can be really difficult and time is limited, but I think it’s so important to work out what each individual’s greatest passion is. My personal experience is that boys will often say ‘football’ to try and fit in, when actually they like football, but really there’s something else that interests them more. And if you can hook into that other, bigger interest, then hopefully that could be the key to making reading more enjoyable.

5. What made you become an author?

Reading was definitely the first thing that triggered my interest in becoming an author. Whenever I finished an amazing book, my first thought was, ‘How awesome would it be if one day I could write stories too!’ Then as I grew older, family and teachers helped me to see that with practice and hard work, that dream was possible.

Helen from BookBound was sent a copy of Unbelievable Football 2, and after reading the book had this to say –

Have you heard of the footballer who has been tackling food poverty? Of course you have, ok let’s try this one , have you heard how football stopped a nation fighting? me neither, so I read the story and it was so interesting. Then we get to read about incredible women who have made am impact in the game. There are some funny stories as well and also a look at what some footballers got up to during lockdown.  While growing up I lived with two football loving brothers, so I couldn’t help but pick up some football knowledge and I’ll be honest I really enjoyed this book. Its a really interesting read and the boys at school will love this book. 

Bookbound would like to thank Matt for this feature interview. Unbelievable Football 2: How Football Can Change the World is published by Wren and Rook, and is available to purchase from all good booksellers, priced at £6.99 (pb RRP)

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