Are you mad about football?
20th Jun 18

Are you mad about football?

Test out your football knowledge - and catch out your friends - with the latest Football School book, The Amazing Quiz Book!

We asked authors Ben Lyttleton and and Alex Bellos to tell us more about their fabulous football quiz covering some of the sport's biggest upsets, penalty shootouts, red cards and injuries. This is what they told us:

Q: You both love football - were you successful footballers as children?

Ben - I played football whenever I wasn't in lessons or eating or asleep. I would always have a ball at my feet (I still do when I work) and though I played for school teams, I spent more time at home, practising taking penalties with a small sponge ball against a goal-shaped radiator. I have since become an expert in penalty strategy and I think it all started back then!

Alex - I loved playing football but was never good enough to play for the school team. As a budding mathematician I always saw my best move as the precise geometrical pass.

Q: Why did you decide to write books about football?

Ben - I would have loved to have read these books as a child, because the only time I was not talking or thinking about football was during lessons. In Football School, every lesson is about football AND you are learning about the world. It's a win-win!

Alex - By linking everything to football we can show how in the real world everything is connected. Also, we are friends and we wanted to work together!

Q: And what gave you the idea for a quiz book about football?

Ben - At the end of every chapter in Football School Seasons One and Two, we include a Quiz about the lesson just gone. Questions are a great way to enhance learning and they can also be funny - Alex is expert at adding ridiculous answers to the multiple-choice questions! We knew the World Cup was coming up and there is so much to learn about the world through football's biggest global competition, that it seemed to make perfect sense.

Alex - From Trivial Pursuits to TV game shows and pub quizzes, Britain is a nation of quiz lovers! A quiz book about the World Cup is guaranteed family fun.

Q: How did you decide how to organise the quizzes? Do you have a favourite section?

Ben - We first of all divided the book into 15 Chapters, each one focusing on a different part of football - Injuries, Stadiums, Coaches, Nicknames, Mascots - and then discovered lots of facts which we then turned into questions. I think the Refs and Red Cards section has some hilarious cartoons in it, including a toffee factory, a spitting llama, an acrobatic robot and Zinedine Zidane being sick on an opponent!

Alex: Did I mention I like maths? So it has to be the section on World Cup numbers!

Q: How did you go about finding your facts for the quiz?

Ben - We read loads of books about the World Cup - and the world - to find out the best facts to include. We are journalists by profession and are very used to doing deep research on subjects to make sure we get the right information. This was no different - every question was verified and checked and double-checked for super-accuracy!

Alex - The most important thing about our books is that they are entertaining and fun to read. But also we wanted to make sure that children are learning stuff they don't know, from basic facts like capital cities and national flags to important events in global history. So once we had found a fantastic fact we would work out the best way to present it.

Q: Do you have a favourite fact in the book?

Ben - The most amazing facts made it into the book. There are some facts in the Coaches section that surprised me, but I can't tell you without giving away the answers. They include: why Diego Maradona grew a beard in 2010, a dramatic moment for the France coach in 1978, and how a Colombia coach calmed his nerves in 1998!

Alex - There's an amazing fact in the very first question: it's about Uruguay, which hosted and won the very first World Cup. Has it got moos for you!

Q: How did you decide what to include and what to leave out?

Ben - We don't always agree and that's the joy of working with someone else. Alex constantly challenges and encourages me to come up with good content, and I (hopefully) do the same with him. We know that the other person can often improve our work, and that helps us be creative in the first place.

Alex - Having a collaborator works well in writing a book with humour and learning. We tend to write the questions individually and then send them to the other person...we aim to make each other laugh and learn something new. If Ben's response is "Alex that pun is terrible" then I need to try harder!

Q: What makes a great quiz question?

Ben - There are so many ingredients! It has to be hard but not too hard; include some learning about the world; have some humour, either within the question, or the answer - we know Spike's fantastic illustrations will also make us laugh.

Alex - It also needs to be a question to which you really want to know the answer!

Q: If someone quizzed you on the contents of your book, would you get all 300+ answers correct?

Ben - I think I would get around 297 correct. I have read the book so many times, I can probably name the 4 options for each question as well!

Alex - Maybe if we were allowed to answer as a team I could help you improve your score, Ben?

Q: What are each of your favourite football moments, ever?

Ben - My greatest moment was scoring a penalty kick in front of 25,000 fans against former Ireland goalkeeper Packie Bonner. Sadly I missed my next penalty - horribly, with a Panenka that went wrong - two minutes later, so the glory did not last long.

Alex - Celebrating Brazil win the 2002 World Cup with tens of thousands of Brazilians on a sunny morning on Copacabana beach. (The game was in Tokyo)

Q: What are the strangest question you've ever been asked as authors?

Ben - I was once asked to do a floss. I didn't know what it was then (of course I do now) and it did not end well for me!

Alex - Can you do my maths homework?

Q: Are you writing another Football School book?

Ben - We are really excited that we have nearly finished Football School Season Three which will come out in September. After that we will have two more books coming out next year as well, so it's a very exciting time for Football School!

You can also watch Ben introducing the Football School series to ReadingZone Live here:

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