Soccer is arguably one of the most popular sports in the world as billions of spectators from around the globe gather to witness the magic of the beautiful game. As such, it’s no surprise that for years filmmakers have tried to capture the majesty of the sport. Whether this means writing about the sport itself, the training behind it, or the fanbases, there have been many a movie made with the intention of giving the viewer an authentic soccer experience.
Below is a list of five of the greatest movies about Soccer ever made. (It should be noted that any references to the term ‘football’ in this list are a simple case of words getting lost in translation. If you are an American and happen to be looking for the greatest football films ever made, we would recommend you consult this list created by Every Movie Has a Lesson).
This film comes with mixed criticism as some have accused filmmaker Emir Kusturica of getting too close to his subject and glossing over some of the less savory details of Diego Maradona’s life. However, this movie generally receives positive feedback. This isn’t necessarily surprising, given it is packed full of memorable scenes that provide an interesting insight into the life of a footballing legend.
Not all films that surround the beautiful game need to revolve around the beauty of the game. Football factory takes you deep into the darker side of soccer: the hooligans. This UK based film follows Danny Dyer’s character as he slowly descends deeper into paranoia following fight after fight. This is a dark comedy laced with violence against the backdrop of soccer, and a must watch for anyone who wants to fully understand what the sport truly means to some people.
The Damned United
This movie tries to capture both sides of the sometimes calculated, sometimes hot-headed Nottingham Forest and Derby County trainer Brian Clough. It is set during 1974, specifically the 44 days that Clough was manager of Leeds United. This era is famous in sporting history as one of the most controversial spells in soccer.
Michael Sheen dominates this role as he captures brilliantly Clough’s temperament, which almost leads to out and out warfare in the locker room. Clough’s insecurities are exposed throughout the movie as he struggles against the resistance of his new club whilst trying to stay sane in the process.
Whilst critics gave this movie high praise, others weren’t so pleased. Dave Mackay was especially frustrated as he sued the producers of The Damned United, stating it was an inaccurate portrayal.
Looking for Eric
In typical Ken Loach style, this gritty feature-length film follows the fanaticism that some display in soccer, as the sport acts as an escape from the hardships of everyday life.
It follows Eric Bishop, an Eric Cantona obsessive whose life is on the brink of collapse as he struggles with work, his relationship, and his wife and son slip further away from him. After stealing some of his son’s drug stash, Eric Cantona comes into his life and begins offering advice on how to get out of the rut he finds himself in.
This movie follows Vinnie Jones, a former England captain that finds himself in jail following an assault on a police officer. There is tension amongst him and his fellow inmates; however, this slowly disintegrates as he is enlisted to coach them for a game of soccer against the guards.