In 2006 he published The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football – the definitive history of the game – and in 2019 brought it up to date with a successor, The Age of Football: The Global Game in The Twenty First Century. In between he published books on Brazilian football, the history of the Olympics, and in 2015 won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award for The Game of Our Lives: The Making and Meaning of English Football. He has been described by Prof.Dominic Sandbrook of Oxford University, in the Sunday Times, as “not merely the best football historian writing today, he is possibly the best there has ever been.”
He currently teaches for the Football Business Academy in Geneva, is a regular visiting Professor at Pitzer College, Los Angeles, and is an Honorary Fellow of the International Centre for the Culture and History of Sport at De Monfort University, Leicester.
His journalism has appeared in the Guardian, the Observer, the Financial Times, the New York Times, Prospect, New Statesman, the Times Literary Supplement and many other publications. He has won the sports story of the year at the Foreign Press Association Media Awards in London three times, In 2009, for the BBC World Service documentary Mathare United. which showcased the power of football for social development in the slums of urban Kenya ; in 2015 for “The Prison Where Murderers who Play for Manchester United” published in The Guardian, which reported on the role of a DIY English Premier League and Prison football association in turning Luzira, Uganda’s notorious high security jail, into one of Africa’s most humane and progressive prisons; and in 2018 for “Viktor Orban’s Reckless Football Obsession”, published in The Guardian, which featured the first interview with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban with a foreign newspaper for more than a decade. It was shortlisted for the European Media Awards in 2019.
In 2020 he published Playing against the Clock: Global Sport and The Climate Crisis and has been working and campaigning on these issues ever since.