On August 18, 2021, Argentinian writer Juan Manuel D’Angelo announced the publication of his new book on the history of Australian football.
D’Angelo’s lockdown project has caught the attention of many around Australia’s football community.
First, a Brazilian publishing company who decided to take on his book, and now Australian football fans, eager to get an outsiders perspective on football Down Under, despite it not being available in English.
But how did a South American sports writer develop such a keen interest in the footballing history of a nation more than 11,000km away from his own?
“My interest in Australian soccer started in 2014, after interviewing Marcelo Carrusca,” D’Angelo kindly told Kick360.
“At that time I was living and studying sports journalism in the City of La Plata, where Marcelo played for a long time (Estudiantes, Juan Sebastian Verón’s team).
“Two years later, and due to personal circumstances, I had to stop studying and concentrate on my daily work and it was at that moment that I came up with the idea of writing a blog in Spanish about the A-League.
“From 2016 I covered the day to day of the league, which became a very entertaining hobby and lead to me having more than a thousand followers on Twitter.”
D’Angelo closed the blog in 2019 to focus on covering more general football, but still kept an eye on his new passion.
Fast-forward to 2020 and he starts writing about it again, as a pastime during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“I started writing the book in the early days of the pandemic and just as a hobby.
“My idea was that, when it was finished, I would upload it to the internet so that my followers on Twitter could download it.
“At that moment, the Brazilian publisher ‘Corner’ appeared and offered to publish it in that country.
“I did not hesitate one second.”
D’Angelo’s book, ‘Socceroos – Futebol na Terra dos Cangurus’ [Socceroos – Football in the Land of Kangaroos], tells the story of Australian football in Brazilian-Portuguese, to an audience who know very little of how the game has evolved on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
In fact, D’Angelo says the A-League is rather overlooked by the South American football community.
“There is a lot of ignorance about the Australian league here in South America.
“While it is true that there have been several successful players in the A-league (Carrusca, Bruno Fornaroli, Bobo, etc.), the media are focused on what happens in the major leagues in Europe and MLS.”
He goes on to explain that A-League clubs’ neglect of arguably the region most passionate about football when recruiting is a large factor in this.
“Many factors conspire against the interest in the A-League, such as distances and time zones, but it is also true that the league has not tried to capture the interest of the Latin or Spanish public.
“Perhaps the biggest problem is that teams prefer to hire lower-league European footballers instead of scouting well in the Argentinian, Paraguayan or Chilean leagues.
“I know very well that Newcastle Jets or Western United cannot afford to sign Boca Juniors’ top scorer, but after five years it still amazes me how little they are looking for signings in this part of the world.
“What also amazes me is how little the league promotes itself because to attract the player, you must generate interest.
“It may sound repetitive, but the A-League should forget about Europe and concentrate on Asia and Latin America – at least for a few years to see what happens.
“As an example, Pablo Magnin (Tigre) is the top scorer in our second division, and he would be an excellent addition to any team in the A-League.
“If things don’t improve, you can always sign the top scorer from Switzerland’s sixth division.”
D’Angelo has also been approached by an Argentinian publisher to write about the A-League for a book on other leagues outside of Europe’s top five, and is now himself writing another book of his own, this time on the lesser-known derbies across world football.
It would therefore be rude not to include something from his own new-found passion.
“Of course, the Sydney derby has its own chapter!”