Life Stories

Football Makes History gathers life stories of unique individuals that help us connect the history of football to diversity and inclusion.

This is Football Lives.

What is Football Lives?

History can be explored through the lives of individuals. This collection gives you the opportunity to discover just how the life stories of people in football (players, coaches, referees and administrators) are intertwined with social, cultural, economic and political histories.

These histories may be small and local, or they may have impacted the world. This collection is not a hall of fame, and – just like the study of the past – it is not final. We note the significance of these life stories based on what history, and indeed present, they shed light on.

Some football lives are heroic and have paved the way for inclusion, democracy and human rights. Others have done just the opposite. In order for us to learn about the past through the lens of individuals, we include thinking points for each life story.

Podium

The Podium contains the three most viewed football lives in Football Makes History platform.

Ebru Köksal: Leading Football Forward

For decades, football was seen as a white male dominant industry.

Ebru Köksal: Leading Football Forward

For decades, football was seen as a white male dominant industry.

Fergus Suter: Working-Class Professional

Fergus Sutter was one of the first (semi)professional footballers, playing against aristocratic players. A story of origins.

Fergus Suter: Working-Class Professional

Fergus Sutter was one of the first (semi)professional footballers, playing against aristocratic players. A story of origins.

Fergus Suter: Working-Class Professional

Fergus Sutter was one of the first (semi)professional footballers, playing against aristocratic players. A story of origins.

Fergus Suter: Working-Class Professional

Fergus Sutter was one of the first (semi)professional footballers, playing against aristocratic players. A story of origins.

John Blankenstein: Arbiter of LGBT Rights

John Blankenstein was a respected referee, and is remembered for being an activist for LGBT rights. His story is one about social equality and exclusion.

John Blankenstein: Arbiter of LGBT Rights

John Blankenstein was a respected referee, and is remembered for being an activist for LGBT rights. His story is one about social equality and exclusion.

Latest Life Stories

We are adding new football lives on a regular basis as we build a wider and more comprehensive collection with our partners. Our latest additions are:

LIFE STORIES  Latest

All Life Stories

in alphabetical order
Eniola Aluko

Legacy of Empire

Fatmire Alushi

From Refugee to World Champion

Brunilde Amodeo

Woman against Fascism

Mario Balotelli

Magnet for Controversy

Anatoliy Banishevskiy

Multiple Belongings

Jörg Berger

Forced out by the Stasi

George Best

Victim of celebrity?

John Blankenstein

Arbiter of LBGT Rights

Zvonimir Boban

Yugoslavia, Italy, Croatia

Stjepan Bobek

Champion of Tito’s Yugoslavia

Vsevolod Bobrov

Soviet Olympic Hero

Jean-Marc Bosman

Revolutionary who set footballers free

Emma Clarke

England's first black female player

Neta Cohen

Young woman saved by Football

Johan Cruyff

Genius of Cultural Transfer

Vikash Dhorasoo

Vocal for change

Alfredo Di Stefano

The Making of a Madrileno

Raoul Diagne

The first player of African origin to play for France

Robert Enke

Casualty of the Beautiful Game?

Eusebio

The Black Pearl

Justin Fashanu

Casualty of prejudice?

Odd Frantzen

Forgotten hero of the Bronze Team

Stephanie Frappart

Whistling on the Big Stage

Gottfried Fuchs

One who got away

Hughie Gallacher

No Life after Football

Falko Götz

Through the Iron Curtain

Helen Graham Matthews

Promoting the Women’s Game

Gyula Grosics

The Rebel who stayed

Ruud Gullit

The Making of an Icon

Bela Guttmann

Lifetime on the Move

Gheorghe Hagi

Maradona of the Carpathians

Leo Halle

The Lion of Deventer

Asbjorn Halvorsen

Victim of Dictatorship

Eddy Hamel

New York, Amsterdam, Auschwitz

Gabriel Hanot

The visionary journalist

Ernst Happel

Total Football Lives On

Otto Fritz 'Tull' Harder

German Hero or Nazi war criminal

Julius Hirsch

Iron Cross to Enemy of the State

Thomas Hitzlsperger

Coming out for inclusion

Rab Howell

Romani in England

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Being Zlatan

Milutin Ivkovic

World Cup to World War

Christian Karembeu

Facing Empire in Football

Arthur, Lord Kinnaird

Aristocratic Founder of the Game

Edith Klinger

Muzzled Austrian Referee

Helmut Klopfleisch

Fan on the wrong side of the Wall

Ebru Köksal

Leading Football Forward

László Kubala

Man with no homeland?

Ernst Kuzorra

One of "Germany's Polish Champions"

Petra Landers

For the Love of the Game

Jack Leslie

Nearly the First

Valeriy Lobanovskyi

Heart of Ukrainian Football

Nat Lofthouse

The One-Club man

Fritz Löhner-Beda

Zionism, Football, Vienna

Hans Lorenzen

Inventing football for the blind

Paolo Maldini

Crown Prince of Milan

Diego Maradona

The Neapolitan

Romualdas Marcinkus

Flying for Lithuania

Hugo Meisl

Mastermind of the Wunderteam

Alice Milliat

Suffragette of Sport

Carolina Morace

Ahead of her Time?

Violette Morris

Heroine, Sportswoman, Collaborator

Nadia Nadim

The Danish Girl from Herat

Bruno Neri

Partisan commander

Otto Nerz

Germany’s coach who died in a Soviet camp

“Nettie Honeyball”

Pioneer of women’s game

Mesut Özil

Not German Enough?

William Paats

Dutch Football Missionary

Lily Parr

Legend of the Women’s Game

Fred Pentland

Missionary for the ‘English Way’

Boško Petrović

From Football to Freedom?

Michel Platini

Icon who fell from Grace

Carmen Pomies

Football Francais Feminin

Vittorio Pozzo

Coach of “Mussolini’s team”

Ferenc Puskas

Legend in two Worlds

Helmut Rahn

Der Boss

Megan Rapinoe

Champion of Women’s Rights

Florrie Redford

The Preston Munitionette

Molly Seaton

Forgotten Heroine of Belfast

Bill Shankly

The road south from Scotland

Matthias Sindelar

Austria’s sportman of the Century?

Marvin Sordell

Facing up to Depression

Lotte Specht

Dreaming to Play

Nikolai Starostin

The Cost of Defying Beria

Bibiana Steinhaus

Woman in Authority

Raheem Sterling

Fighting back against Prejudice

Eduard Streltsov

Seeking a place in History

Josep Sunyol

Casualty of Spain’s Civil War

Fergus Suter

Working-Class Professional

Armand Swartenbroeks

Champion of fair play

Fatih Terim

Emperor of Turkey

Bert Trautmann

The German who Stayed

Walter Tull

Black footballer and Soldier

Alex Villaplane

From Football hero to war-time villain

Andrew Watson

The first black international player?

Arpad Weisz

Jewish, Hungarian, Italian?

Robert Whitehead

Spreading the Game

Ernest Wilmowski

A problem of identity

Vasilis Xatzipanagis

The “Greek Maradona”

Granit Xhaka

Wanderer Seeking Belonging

Lev Yashin

The Hero of the Soviet Union

Zinedine Zidane

What kind of France?

Do you wanna know more?

HISTORY CAN BE EXPLORED THROUGH THE LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS

  • Stories
  • Videos
  • Educational Resources

Football: A People’s History of Europe?

In cooperation with the festival “Forum on European Culture”, we spoke with author David Goldblatt about the value of football for Europe, taking historical perspectives.

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