When Phil Ball left university with a workmanlike English degree to his name and no discernible ambitions, he wasn't entirely sure what to do next. So like many before him he thought he'd giving teaching a go. Why not?
This is the comic story of one man's painfully slow metamorphosis into a teacher at an everyday comprehensive and his encounters with other remarkable teachers and pupils along the way. The good, the bad, the violent, the victimised and the clinically insane: from his first teaching practice nemesis, Alan Plant, who knows his dark secret, to the pupil who believes he is a reincarnation of the poet Andrew Marvell. It is a tale of the highs and lows of attempting to teach: from the joy of really making a difference to young minds to being physically set upon by a teenage horde.
And that's just what happens in the classroom. Beyond it is the real world of teachers behind staff-room doors: desperate lives, unseemly professional competition, a diet of cigarettes, alcohol and cold coffee, casual sex and general social dysfunction. Not a great example, but the truth...
Within the trophy room at the Bernabéu, the spoils of a century's achievements provide indisputable evidence of football's conquistadores rubbing the world's noses in the dirt. They include twenty-nine league titles, nine European Cups, seventeen Spanish Cups, two UEFA Cups and three World Club Championship titles.
The story of Real Madrid is, however, much more than the mere sum of its achievements. The club has always attracted the biggest names in the game - the type of player more recently referred to by Los Merengues as 'galáctico'. And for every Figo, Zidane, Ronaldo or Beckham, there is a legend from the past.
White Storm charts the history of the club from its foundations to the golden period of Di Stéfano and Puskas, through the 'hippy years' to the modern embodiment of Madridismo - Raúl. It ends with an analysis of the Beckham impact, the disintegration of the Florentino Pérez regime and a look at what the future might hold for the world's most famous club.
Phil Ball has lived in San Sebastian in the Basque region of Spain since 1991 where he is still involved in education. He had previously earned a living teaching English in Oman, Peru and Hull. He has written for the Guardian, New York Times and Financial Times. His previous books include the William Hill long-listed and GQ Sports Book of the Year Morbo - The Story of Spanish Football. He is married with two children.