The job of the centre-half (or central defender) is to stop opposing players from scoring. In this first-ever cultural history of these traditionally bruising hard men, Leo Moynihan (FourFour Two) explores the unique mindset and last-ditch, bone-crunching tackles of those hellbent on destroying glory.
Football is often romanticised as 'The Beautiful Game'. If true then the game's centre-half might be considered as the unsightly pimple on the end of its otherwise perfectly formed nose. The stopper, the last line of defence, the big man with small ideas. The lump who lumps it.
Thou Shall Not Pass (the title comes from a command England captain Terry Butcher would shout before every match) celebrates the football position where brutal characters are loved for their hard-hitting tackles and bruising mentality and yet laughed at for their apparent lack of skill.
As well as covering the long and illustrious history of the centre-half, the book will take the reader into the muddy penalty area frequented by our protagonists, into their domain. The places they head the ball, the places they tackle, the places in which they will stop at nothing to stop a forward. What makes them approach the game the way they do? What makes them different from those whose sole purpose is flair?
Packed with rich and highly entertaining anecdotes, the book will explore all aspects of the position and into the mentality of those who ply their trade there. For example, what makes a player willing to put his face in the way of danger, what makes some centre-halves more capable of reading the game than others, how tactics have governed the role over the decades, how that role differs around the world and what dark arts centre-halves must master in order to stop their foes.
Using his extensive contacts (full list of interviewees below) the author will interview many different centre-halves, from all over the world and from the highest levels to those playing in the game's lower echelons and politely described as less polished. He will talk to coaches, goalkeepers and forwards about working with and playing against centre-halves, looking for witty and anecdotal insight into this too often maligned position.