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Phil Ball (born 1957 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) is a British writer based in Spain.[1] He has lived in Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain, for over twenty years.[2] Born in Canada to English parents, Ball grew up in Grimsby on the north east coast of England, having moved there as a child in 1957. As a youngster he supported Grimsby Town, saying "I was brought up on lower league football".[3] After finishing University, Ball took up an English teaching post in a state comprehensive school in Hull. He subsequently taught in Peru and later Oman, eventually moving to San Sebastián after the first Gulf War.[4]

Phil Ball is a lifelong football enthusiast, and his first published book was the acclaimed Morbo: the story of Spanish football (2001). The book linked the traditional antagonisms in Spanish football (the "Morbo" of the title) to the regional, linguistic and political divisions of Spain as a country. Morbo was listed for the William Hill award and won the GQ Sports Book of the Year. A Spanish translation of the book was published in 2010 and a new updated edition in English came out in 2011. It was voted into the top 50 of the best football books of all time by the British-based magazine '442', in 2017.

White Storm: 100 years of Real Madrid (2002) was the first English-language history of the famous Spanish football club, written to celebrate its centenary, using a similar socio-political approach to that taken in Morbo. The book is on its third edition, has been translated into various languages, and was finally published in Spanish in September 2009 under the title 'Tormenta Blanca'.

An Englishman Abroad : Beckham's Spanish adventure (2004) chronicled the first year of English footballer David Beckham's spell at the Real Madrid club.

His 2006 publication The Hapless Teacher's Handbook marked a departure from sports writing, being a humorous autobiographical account of his own early years as a schoolteacher in England.

He has contributed football articles to a number of sports publications, including When Saturday Comes, ESPNsoccernet, The New York Times[5] and Financial Times. He has also worked as an announcer for Sky Sports' La Liga broadcast[6] and written a regular weekly column on Spanish football for ESPN Soccernet since 2002. He currently writes for Sport 360 and Liga Fever.

Phil Ball is also prominent in the world of language education, and has authored a wide variety of scholastic material for the Basque and Spanish curriculum. He specialises in the area known as CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) and has contributed a number of articles and publications to the field. His latest book, 'Putting CLIL into Practice' (2015, Oxford University Press), co-authored with Keith Kelly and John Clegg, offers a new theory of practice for teachers based on what Ball calls 'the three dimensions of content'. His series of textbooks for 12 year-old learners in Spain, 'Subject Projects' was nominated for the Innovation Awards in Education at the ELTONS in London, in 2016.

His son was a promising footballer who played for Antiguoko, a boys' club in San Sebastián which produced Xabi Alonso, Mikel Arteta, Andoni Iraola and Aritz Aduriz in previous years.[7]


  1. ^ Ball, Phill (2008), "Camp Nou catharsis", ESPNsoccernet
  2. ^ Ball, Phil, White Christmas,
  3. ^ Phil Ball (October 2007). (Podcast). La Liga Talk. External link in |title= (help)
  4. ^ Phil Ball (October 2007). (Podcast). La Liga Talk. External link in |title= (help)
  5. ^ Ball, Phil (2003), "The Game in Spain", The New York Times
  6. ^ Phil Ball - books from Archived 2009-04-16 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Phil Ball (22 September 2011). "Antiguoko - the next big thing in Spanish football". When Saturday Comes. Retrieved 16 July 2017.