> Skip to content
  • Published: 15 January 2018
  • ISBN: 9781784756116
  • Imprint: Arrow
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • RRP: $28.00

No Hunger In Paradise

The Players. The Journey. The Dream

Award-winning author of The Nowhere Men and Living on the Volcano, Michael Calvin is back with his new book that tells the inside story of becoming a professional footballer.

Shortlisted for the British Sports Book Awards 2018

“What’s your dream, son?”
A six year-old boy, head bowed, mumbles the eternal answer: “Be a footballer….” Steadman Scott, football’s most unlikely talent scout, smiles indulgently, and takes him in from the street. He knows the odds. Only 180 of the 1.5 million boys who play organised youth football in England will become a Premier League pro. That’s a success rate of 0.012 per cent.

How and why do the favoured few make it? What separates the good from the great? Who should they trust – the coach, the agent or their parents?

Michael Calvin provides the answers on a journey from non-league grounds to hermetically sealed Premier League palaces, via gang-controlled sink estates and the England team’s inner sanctum. He interviews decision makers, behavioural specialists, football agents and leading coaches. He shares the hopes and fears of players and their parents. He exposes bullying and a black economy in which children are commodities, but remains true to the dream.

  • Published: 15 January 2018
  • ISBN: 9781784756116
  • Imprint: Arrow
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464
  • RRP: $28.00

About the author

Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin is one of the UK’s most accomplished sportswriters, having worked in more than eighty countries. He has covered every major sporting event, including seven summer Olympic Games and six World Cup finals. He was named Sports Writer of the Year for his despatches as a crew member in a round-the-world yacht race and has twice been named Sports Reporter of the Year.

His book, The Nowhere Men, a study of football scouts, won The Times Sports Book of the Year prize in 2014. He became the first author to receive the award in successive years, when Proud, his collaboration with former Wales and British Lions rugby captain Gareth Thomas, was named Sports Book of the Year in 2015.

In the same year Living On The Volcano, which exposed the pressures on managers, was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year prize. No Nonsense, his collaboration with Joey Barton, was named Autobiography of the Year in the 2017 British Sports Book awards.

No Hunger In Paradise, an insight into youth football that spawned a widely-praised BT Sport documentary, was a Sunday Times bestseller. State of Play, a study of the morality and social impact of modern football, was longlisted for the 2018 William Hill Sports Book of the Year award.

He has been working closely with Thomas Bjorn on Mind Game to capture the unique nature of golf, and the principles and philosophies of the world’s best players.

Michael Calvin is an award-winning writer and Sunday Times bestselling author, whose books have been hailed for their insight and influence. He has collaborated with such celebrated sportsmen as Sir Alastair Cook, Dylan Hartley and Gareth Thomas, and is the only writer to win the British sports book of the year award in successive years.

Also by Michael Calvin

See all

Praise for No Hunger In Paradise

Extraordinary writing, a vital subject, a brilliant read

Jonathan Northcroft, Sunday Times

Another landmark work from Mike Calvin, who has taken us beyond the surface of football to show its true workings. Ground-breaking reportage with a heart and a conscience. A service to the game.

Paul Hayward, Telegraph

A fascinating insight which gets to the heart of the matter - and problems - chasing every kid's dream. A compelling read for anyone who likes football and the stories surrounding the stars of tomorrow. I couldn't put it down.

John Cross, Daily Mirror

If you're in any way interested in what lies beneath the water of the Premier League Iceberg, read Mike Calvin's latest book No Hunger in Paradise

Owen Gibson, Guardian

Eye-opening and compelling

Iain Macintosh

Another exceptional piece of work

Jason Burt, Telegraph


Richard Williams, Guardian

Highly recommended reading. An excellent and important book . . . No Hunger in Paradise explores the world of youth football and, if the stories within do one thing, they press the claim for serious discussion about how the English game treats the thousands of children who come into contact with the sharper end of youth football - and their families who often get reeled in to a cut-throat environment without really understanding what is going on

Amy Lawrence

No Hunger in Paradise is somehow both heart-breaking and uplifting. Just brilliant!

Waterstones Sport

No Hunger in Paradise is humbling, educational, worrying and a great read. Can't recommend it highly enough. One of the best sports books I've ever read.

Barry Glendenning, Guardian

Started reading this and it's brilliant. Seriously recommended. Yet another important football book from Michael Calvin. In-depth well-researched accounts of the journey from kids football to the professional game..or rejection

Adrian Durham, TalkSPORT

If you've any interest in the future of football in this country and the young players who will provide it, No Hunger in Paradiseis a must-read.

Liverpool Echo

Bleak but brilliant. Contains stories that need to be heard.


A brilliant & very important book. Vital, highly recommended. Tempted to say it's Michael Calvin's best yet, which is some praise.

Oliver Kay, The Times

The best sports book I'm likely to read this year. Highly recommend you buy it.

Simon Hughes, Independent

A brilliant insight into the journey young kids now make from kicking a ball around in their back garden, through the glossy facilities of academy football.

David Preece, Sunderland Echo

His research is, as ever, impeccable. No Hunger in Paradise is a fascinating and fitting finale to a trio of books any football lover should own.

Sunday Sport

Heartbreaking . . . an excellent piece of reportage


The award-winning writer's new forensic, and sometimes alarming, case study into why some young prospects make the cut - and others fall away - is fascinating. The FA would do well to read this if they want success


Brilliantly sourced and written. As a portrait of the state of the modern game, No Hunger In Paradise is vital reading. With Calvin's previous studies, it serves as a record of what football is like today and should place him alongside Arthur Hopcraft, John Moynihan and Hunter Davies in providing the sport with its defining literature

When Saturday Comes

One of the great, and most important, sports books of 2017. Passionate, incisive, gripping.

Don McCrae

Calvin is a natural storyteller who is unflinching as he goes behind the scenes and meets the people at the heart of the youth development network.

Irish Independent

Related titles