Institute of Education


The greatest comeback: from genocide to football glory

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm, 23 January 2019

Old football ground

This seminar is about the life and career of Holocaust survivor and superstar football coach Béla Guttmann, as written by author David Bolchover.

Event Information

Open to





Mike Cranny


UCL Institute of Education
20 Bedford Way
United Kingdom

Béla Guttmann was the first superstar football coach, achieving his greatest successes before Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho were even born. He was also a Holocaust survivor. In 1944, he hid in an attic near Budapest as thousands of fellow Jews in the vicinity were being deported to Auschwitz. He then escaped from a brutal slave labour camp. His father, sister and wider family perished at the hands of the Nazis. But by the early 1960s, Guttmann had completed the most remarkable turnaround, twice winning the European Cup as coach of Benfica of Lisbon.

In this talk, David Bolchover will trace Guttmann’s background and extraordinary career, and discuss some broader themes thrown up by his recent book The Greatest Comeback: From Genocide to Football Glory. For example, why was so little known until now about the Holocaust experiences of one of football’s most celebrated figures? How does the Guttmann story challenge commonly held myths about the Holocaust? Why is there so little recognition of the massive contribution of European Jews to football before the Holocaust?

The evening will begin at 5:30pm for drinks and nibbles, and the talk will last from 6pm – 7pm.


This event is free and open for all to attend however it does require registration. Please register with the link above. 


About the Speaker

David Bolchover

David Bolchover is an author, commentator and business writer. His latest book is a biography of the legendary football coach Béla Guttmann, entitled The Greatest Comeback: From Genocide to Football Glory.

He has also written three high-profile business books – Pay Check, The Living Dead and The 90-Minute Manager – and has published numerous articles on a broad range of issues relating to management and the workplace.

As well as his own bylined work, David works with management consultancies and other companies to help shape and improve their written material.

More about David Bolchover