The Best Soccer Movies & Documentaries
As one of the most exciting sports in the world, it is little wonder that soccer movies and documentaries are hugely popular with fans.
However, it is fair to say that producers sometimes find it challenging to capture the true spirit of the world’s favourite game.
Abominations such as Bend it Like Beckham and When Saturday Comes are perfect examples of filmmakers failing to hit the back of the net with soccer.
Thankfully there have also been plenty of brilliant soccer movies and documentaries produced. Here are some of our favourites.
The Damned United
Michael Sheen’s ability to immerse himself into a character is perfectly highlighted by his portrayal of Brian Clough in The Damned United.
The film focuses on Clough’s disastrous 44-day spell in charge of Leeds United and perfectly captures the underhanded antics of some of their players in his demise.
Sheen digs deep to showcase Clough’s complex personality and lovingly shows that the great man was much warmer than his belligerent public persona.
Mike Bassett: England Manager
This clever piece of movie-making has been panned in certain quarters, but it is essential viewing if you are a true soccer fan.
Mike Bassett tells the story of a foul-mouthed lower league manager tasked with overseeing England’s bid to win the World Cup.
Ricky Tomlinson is perfect in the lead role in a film that shows that losers can come out smelling of roses in the right circumstances.
Looking for Eric
English filmmaker Ken Loach expertly captures the culture of fanaticism and how soccer provides fans with an escape from the worries of daily life.
The film focuses on Eric Bishop – a football-mad postman with an argumentative ex-wife and a son who gives him more than his fair share of problems.
Bishop’s life is turned on its head by a weird and wonderful encounter with Manchester United legend Eric Cantona. We’ll offer no more spoilers. Watch the film.
Making films and documentaries about soccer should not always be about positive things, and Football Factory captures that point to perfection.
The film focuses on the antics of hooligan Tommy Johnson (Danny Dyer), a member of a violent Chelsea firm who spends much of his time acting like a complete moron.
Football Factory tracks Johnson’s descent into a state of total paranoia and his wild encounters with members of other hooligan firms.
The word ‘great’ is thrown around a little too easily in soccer, particularly when describing the talents of some modern players.
However, the term is 100 percent applicable to Sir Stanley Matthews – a player whose impact on the game went far beyond his achievements on the pitch.
This superb documentary details how ‘The Wizard’ used his status to defy South Africa’s apartheid government to teach soccer in the all-black townships of Johannesburg. It’s stunning.
An Impossible Job
This film was viewed as ground-breaking when it was first released, offering fans a stunning insight into Graham Taylor’s ill-fated attempt to take England to the 1994 World Cup finals.
His decision to allow a camera crew access to the England set-up for four months allowed them to capture some truly miserable moments for the national team.
The footage of Taylor’s role in a dismal 2-0 defeat against Norway pretty much destroyed his credibility as a manager at the top level.
Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In
No list of greatest-ever soccer movies and documentaries would be complete without something featuring the best manager ever to grace the game.
The life story of Sir Alex Ferguson is a lesson in what can be achieved if you believe in something and are prepared to work hard enough to achieve it.
Never Give In includes plenty of insight from Ferguson after his near-fatal brain haemorrhage in 2018 – further demonstrating his undisputed fighting spirit.