After the fast-paced excitement of my race through 55 UEFA nations in one season, I settled down to write Europe United in summer 2018. I still gave sporadic interviews – to French website SoFoot, a British fan living in Malaysia and a Bulgarian football blog – where I reflected on my crazy European tour. But my focus was on condensing an incredible year into an interesting football travel narrative.
The first article promoting ‘Europe United’ was in the July edition of Dutch magazine Staantribune with is fabulous Gabriel Batistuta cover. “It was London in the spring of 2017. Englishman Matt Walker had just turned 40 and had a boring office job. He looked at the rain outside and thought that going on for another 25 years would not be very exciting. That is why he decided to say goodbye to his job and in one season visit all 55 countries affiliated with UEFA.” Not quite my words, but an appropriate scene setter.
The publicity ramped up in August. I was featured twice on BBC Radio and live on both Spanish station Talk Radio Europe and talkSPORT radio. Spanish newspaper AS headlined with my A-Z of European football and Bulgarian sports daily Meridian Match published a full page article based on my Plovdiv experience. And, as my first commission as a Lonely Planet writer, I name-checked 25 out of the 55 UEFA nations. Pity I wasn’t paid by the country!
Europe United was first reviewed by the Sunday Sport. “This excellent and thoroughly enjoyable book” made me smile. “Along the way he picks up bizarre nuggets of useful, as well as useless, information” made me laugh. Football Book Reviews called Europe United an “informative and eye-opening read” and lamented the relative paucity of photos and statistics from my travels – both readily available on this website.