Reading ‘Feet of the Chameleon’, you start to wonder why there are not more books about African football. There are stories, personalities and incidents just jumping out of the pages and as comprehensive and fascinating as it all is, you are left wanting more.
The sheer size and diversity of the continent does mean however that Hawkey is able to pick and choose his subjects and he does so with the assurance of a Jay Jay Okocha pass. From South Africa all the way north to Egypt, and many points in between, the reader is taken on a tour that takes in all the sights: the skills of the players, the colour of the fans, the corruption of the officials and plenty more besides.
That he is able, while talking about teams and personalities all over Africa, to keep a general thread going throughout the book that talks about the development of the game in the continent (as well as the social, political and cultural goings-on off the pitch) is impressive. And he also manages to deliver what the best football books deliver: a story that can be enjoyed and appreciated by those who are not that into the game.
From the colonial beginnings of the football in the continent to the dozens of top-class African stars earning millions in the big clubs in the big European leagues, and the tragedies and triumphs in between, this is a great story that is well-told and you can’t ask for more than that –apart from a sequel perhaps.