Sun Tzu’s Art of War Book used in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup victory under Luiz Felipe Scolari – Translated by Liam Shannon

It has been 110 years since Sun Tzu’s The Art of War was originally translated from Chinese into English, and it continues to inspire people outside of its intended military readership. Any bookstore’s self-help sections, which offer motivational advice on everything from seduction to business, eloquently demonstrate this argument. Now that British football coach Liam Shannon is residing in the US, we can add football to the list. This month saw the publication of Shannon’s Sun Tzu Soccer: The Art of War in Soccer Language & Scenarios, which immediately climbed the Amazon charts.

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With his team for the 2002 Fifa World Cup in Brazil, Luiz Felipe Scolari printed out sections from the book and tucked them under the players’ hotel doors. Shannon mentions that they won the competition in the introduction. Scolari claimed, “I used the book during my preparations.” Shannon added that much of Sun’s work sounds a lot like the thinking of former Barcelona manager and renowned football philosopher Johan Cruyff, saying “Sometimes a different approach like this might help.”

He wins his wars by not making any blunders, according to the original Sun Tzu proverb. Shannon says: “This verse means a lot to me because I feel it is the verse most closely linked, indeed almost identical, to a Johan Cruyff quote, ‘Football is a game of mistakes; the team that makes the least mistakes usually wins.’ Making no mistakes establishes the certainty of victory because it means overpowering an enemy that has already been vanquished. Additionally, it wonderfully captures my personal mindset regarding ball control and wise decision-making in both my playing and coaching.

Another translation that strikes Shannon as “reminding me of Bruce Lee and his mindset” is “As water shapes its course over the specific ground it passes over; so tactics should be modified to the particular opposition one meets.” It’s an easy idea to grasp. Shannon estimates that he has translated between 80 and 90 percent of Sun’s work and had no inclination to impose the remaining 10 percent. Where passages could be preserved in their original form, he did so. The original text is then completely reprinted and annotated because Shannon “wanted this to be Sun Tzu’s effort as much as my own.” Simple but slow in pace

"Translating it was challenging, but the book's other two features strike out as being very challenging. Selecting a title came first. It's no joke that the procedure took years. It was a major factor in the release's delay. I was aware that I required more than a name—I required a brand. The marketing was the other component, in which Shannon acknowledged that he is “not an expert.” “I make an effort to maintain perspective when it comes to publishing the book sooner. Although it took nine years from concept to production, life happens. During that time, I also went through a divorce, remarried, inherited three stepchildren, had my own child, and founded my own soccer club, among other things. I was quite active.

What aspirations does Shannon have for the book now that it has been released? Perhaps another World Cup-winning coach is slipping something under his players’ doors? I have numerous ideas for the book’s growth and “spin-offs,” but eventually I want the information to be used in courses and licenses.

Shannon further cited the fact that, 2,500 years after it was published, the original book is still in use at prestigious military academies. Sun Tzu Soccer is unquestionably as important to the Uefa and Fifa if The Art of War is still good enough for West Point and Sandhurst. “But yes, the idea of a World Cup-winning manager placing passages of my work under his players’ doors during the night is definitely a dream! ”


Sun Tzu Soccer: The Art of War in Soccer Language & Scenarios

Written by John Mark Villafranca

John Mark Villafranca is a Digital Marketing Intern of PS Media Enterprise and a 3rd year Bachelor of Arts in Communication student of Batangas State University ARASOF.


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Sun Tzu’s Art of War Book used in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup victory under Luiz Felipe Scolari – Translated by Liam Shannon
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