The Greatest Comeback

“A fascinating, brilliantly told biography of Europe’s first superstar football coach, The Greatest Comeback is a moving, terrifying and inspirational story of survival and triumph. If you’re a football fan and Béla Guttmann is just a name you have seen in the lists of European Cup-winning managers, take the time to read about the man. It is an astonishing journey.” – Oliver Holt, Chief Sports Writer, Mail on Sunday

“David Bolchover has produced a remarkable work: as a history book alone, it carries the reader through a hideous chunk of the twentieth century in the most deft and compelling way, while as a biography of a great football coach it is both original and definitive.” – Patrick Barclay, football writer

“Moving, original, full of insight, this is a gripping tale told by a skilled storyteller. You don’t need to be interested in the Holocaust to find this fascinating account of some great footballing moments absorbing. And you don’t need to be interested in football to want to learn about this tale of survival. But if you are by chance interested in both, you will find this book extraordinary.” –– Daniel Finkelstein, associate editor, The Times

“Packed with insight and interesting debate, The Greatest Comeback is both deeply poignant and extremely topical. David Bolchover has expertly woven one huge, tragic strand of twentieth-century history together with a great footballing story.” – Henry Winter, Chief Football Writer, The Times

Bela Guttmann was the first of a breed of globe-trotting superstar football coaches, achieving his greatest successes before Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho were even born. He was also a Holocaust survivor. In 1944, much of Europe had wanted Guttmann dead. He hid for months in an attic near Budapest as thousands of fellow Jews in the neighbourhood were dragged off to Auschwitz. Later, he escaped from a slave labour camp before a planned deportation and almost certain death. His father, sister and wider family were murdered. But by 1961, as coach of Benfica, he had lifted Europe’s greatest sporting prize, the European Cup, a feat he repeated the following year. From the death pits of Europe to champion of Europe in little more than sixteen years, Guttmann performed the greatest comeback in football history.

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