Translator hopes more readers for football books

June 26, 2024 - 10:13
Translator Nguyễn Dương Hiếu is an author of sports books focusing on football. His translated books include The Barcelona Complex: Lionel Messi and the Making – and Unmaking –of the World's Greatest Soccer Club; Pele: His Life and Times and Messi vs. Ronaldo: One Rivalry, Two GOATs, and the Era That Remade the World's Game.
Translator Nguyễn Dương Hiếu. — Photo

Translator Nguyễn Dương Hiếu is an author of sports books focusing on football. His translated books include The Barcelona Complex: Lionel Messi and the Making – and Unmaking –of the World's Greatest Soccer Club; Pele: His Life and Times and Messi vs. Ronaldo: One Rivalry, Two GOATs, and the Era That Remade the World's Game.

Vietnam News Agency's Thể Thao Văn Hóa daily spoke with Hiếu about his interest in the game.

When did you begin to translate football books?

In 2014, Trẻ Publishing House bought the copyright to the book Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography. I boldly asked for permission to translate, even though I had never translated a book about sports or football.

At that time, Sir Alex Ferguson had just retired after nearly three decades of leading the famous football club Manchester United, so I was a little curious about this Scottish coach.

I have loved watching football since I was nine years old but I first listened to a tournament on the radio, SKDA 1984 – the tournament for army football team of socialism countries.

I'm not sure but it seems that year, the Vietnamese army team overcame strong opponents from Eastern Europe such as the German Democratic Republic's army team 3-1 and drew with the Polish army team 0-0.

After that, I watched football on television for the first time at the 1986 World Cup. Then I read all the books and newspapers I could find from those days.

I had hoped to have the opportunity to translate sports and football books, but it was not until 2014 that I had the opportunity. If I remember correctly, Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography was one of the first books that Trẻ Publishing House made on this topic.

After begging to translate the book, I started looking for information related to the author and the issues mentioned in the book.

There are a lot of MU fans in Việt Nam. During the process of searching for information on the Internet, I even saw that many chapters of the book were actively translated into Vietnamese and distributed for free.

I decided not to pay attention to reading them, even just one sentence, because of the vague concern that the translation which is just a work of memoir will be affected by an available translation.

Two of my friends and I co-translated the book but I was in charge of the final version. The book has been reprinted 14 times. I feel lucky.

Will you proactively choose books and recommend them to publishers for translation?

Many of my friends ask me this question. I see there are different parts working in translating books. The publishers are proactive in selecting the books and it is they who make the final decision.

I used to propose the publishers some books which I am interested in. But it is rare and it's true that my proposals are rarely accepted.

I think that choosing to translate a book into Vietnamese for publication and release on the Vietnamese market requires the publishers to consider many different factors, of which the content of the book itself is just one of them.

What is the interest of international readers in football books in your opinion?

I cannot make any comments on the interest of the international readers in the football books, but certainly there is still a group of readers for these books.

I see that the football books are continually published and the most popular books are about football stars, prominent coaches, big teams, the development of football strategy and tactics, and the history of major tournaments.

On social networks, besides forums and groups for fans of a team, a player or a tournament, I still see groups or communities dedicated to collecting football books and newspapers through the periods. It makes me feel that international readers of football books are not many, but not a few.

How about Vietnamese readers?

Personally, I have no doubt about Vietnamese people's love for football. We can compare this enthusiasm with other countries in the world.

But with the football books, the situation is probably not as exciting. It itself is only a relatively small segment of the sports book sector and not many publishers are interested in and printing football books regularly.

I think the football books have only appeared on the Vietnamese market in the last 10-20 years. Before that we only read football newspapers and magazines.

Quite naturally, people read newspapers and online sports news, more than books. Hopefully, in the future, football books will have more readers who want to learn more deeply about all aspects of the game.

Which football team are you a fan of? And will you be excited to translate a book on the team you dislike?

Well obviously the Vietnamese national team and I have been a fan of the Brazilian team since the first time I saw them on black and white TV during the 1986 World Cup. The club I love is Chelsea.

Unlike many Vietnamese football fans, I am not crazy about the MU team at all. But the first book I translated was the memoir of their most prominent coach Sir Alex Ferguson.

As a fan of Brazil, I also don't like Argentina and Messi, but I once translated a book about the top pair of players of the 21st century, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. — VNS