Given soccer’s worldwide popularity, it’s no surprise that filmmakers for years have tried to capture the best moments from the sports’ history. Whether it be a feel-good romantic comedy, a social drama, or an insightful adaptation of real-life events, directors have used on-pitch action as a base point to explore the feelings that the sport provokes. In some movies, you may even come across legends of the sport making an appearance in a film when you least expected it.
In no particular order, here are 10 of the best movies on the beautiful game to watch if you’re itching to have some more on-screen soccer action!
1. Escape to Victory (1981)
For all of the sports history fans out there, Escape to Victory is inspired by the events of the Death Match between a German soccer team and allied prisoners of war during World War II. With a team of Hollywood names (Sylvester Stallone & Michael Caine) and soccer idols (Pele, Bobby Moore & Ossie Ardiles), they put on an impressive performance about one of the most interesting soccer matches in history.
2. Fever Pitch (1997)
This fictional rom-com follows a teacher (Colin Firth) whose passion – or obsession – for Arsenal takes a toll on his relationship with his girlfriend. The movie takes place during Arsenal’s surprise title-winning season of 1988-89, which saw them defeat Liverpool who was topping the standings of English football. Through a charming journey of highs and lows, Fever Pitch shows viewers how you can handle two loves in your life.
3. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
In an uplifting British comedy – which put actress Kira Knightly on the map – girl power is at its finest. Knightly’s character Jules and friend Jess (Parminder Nagra) battle their parental expectations and shun away stereotypes to play the sport that they love. The film was a bit of a cultural phenomenon that gave unspoken topics attention, and showed that girls can play sports, no matter where they come from. Of course, the film does offer a David Beckham cameo – although late and brief.
4. Shaolin Soccer (2001)
Considered to be one of the funniest soccer films out there, Shaolin Soccer follows a group of soccer and martial arts misfits who join forces to form a new squad. Using their different skills to their advantage, they set out to take down ‘Team Evil’ who doesn’t have any martial arts master of their own. The result of this hysterical comedy: an abundance of awards in Hong Kong, and sensational box office returns.
5. Zidane – A 21st Century Portrait (2006)
Inspired by the experimental film in 1970 that had concentrated cameras on George Best for the entirety of a match, this experiment was repeated on French star Zinedine Zidane. Focused purely on the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Villarreal in 2005, it captures real time film that was taken on 17 synchronized cameras on Zidane. Along with a breathtaking portrait of the French player, it has an understated acoustic soundtrack to grab the attention of viewers.
6. Goal! (2005)
Goal! is the first film in a trilogy followed by Goal II: Living the Dream and Goal III: Taking on the World. The film follows a Mexican immigrant in Los Angeles who scores the opportunity of a trial with Newcastle United after being scouted. This guilty pleasure of a series may have a far-fetched plot, but it also has a number of big-name cameos including Raul, Zinedine Zidane, and David Beckham.
7. Kicking and Screaming (2005)
In a showdown between youth soccer teams, and father and sons, Will Ferrell plays a youth soccer coach who is desperate to improve the Tigers with coaching methods opposite to those of his father. The film features the well-known comedic efforts of Ferrell and some subtle commentary on the over-competitiveness of youth sports. If you’re looking for a good laugh or some TV background noise, Kicking and Screaming is a good choice.
8. The Two Escobars (2010)
This detailed award-winning documentary follows the lives of Andres and Pablo Escobar whose unrelated lives were somehow intertwined. The two men could not have been more different from one another, but the documentary shows how they are now linked forever after their violent deaths within a year of each other. In an impressive demonstration of soccer, greed, and crime, the documentary teaches the world about the “narco-futbol” era in Columbia.
9. Diego Maradona (2019)
The late Diego Maradona is one of the most loved, hated, and controversial soccer players of all time. In a documentary compiled from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage of the international star, it touches on his peak moments and the place where everything began to fall apart. This critically acclaimed documentary captures a unique perspective on both the greatest and less savory details about his life.
10. The Damned United (2009)
Although it may have not broken the box office, The Damned United captures the daring story of the 44 days Brian Clough spent as manager of Leeds United in 1974. In an extremely fictionalized adaptation of his management methods and harsh personality, Michael Sheen (who plays Clough) exposes his insecurities and struggles trying to handle the tide of his new club. Some people may have been unhappy about the over exaggerated portrayals in the film, but others got a good laugh out of it.
You can’t watch your favorite soccer movie without snacks! Pick a movie to watch from this list, and then head over to our Pinterest page to find inspiration on some soccer themed snack to enjoy.
- Tags: LIFESTYLE