Soccer is a widely-loved sport all over the world and has often been used as the backdrop in classic sports movies.
These movies range from being based purely around on-field exploits to following hooligans who use supporting their team as an excuse for violence. The one thing they have in common is that they are about soccer and therefore eligible to be included in the following list.
So, sit back and enjoy our list of the top five soccer movies.
1) The Damned United
A movie starring several popular British actors that tells the story of the ill-fated 44 day reign of Brian Clough as Leeds United manager in 1974.
Based on the largely fictional novel by David Pearce, it depicts Clough as a vengeful character who alienates his players from the moment he takes charge.
It was met with criticism from Clough’s family when released but is still an enjoyable and well-acted movie that is a must-see for soccer historians.
According to Jonas Warrer, the man behind Live Goals, this movie portrays both the best and worst aspects of the world of soccer.
2) Green Street – Hooligans
This 2005 British-American movie is based around soccer hooliganism but includes aspects of both the classic coming-of-age and fish-out-of-water storylines.
It tells the story of an American journalism student who is expelled from university and travels to England to visit his sister. There he befriends the head of a violent group that arrange fights with rival fans after soccer matches.
It then follows his story as he becomes more embroiled in the world of soccer hooliganism whilst also trying to hide the fact that he is keeping a journal of everything that happens within this group.
Whilst widely regarded as a movie that glorifies violence, it is also an in-depth portrayal of friendship, loyalty and the lengths people go to in order to ‘fit-in’.
This movie, released in 2005, is a typical rags-to-riches story and follows a Mexican cook in LA that moves to England to embark on his dream of becoming a professional soccer player.
The first in a trilogy following the character of Santiago Munez, it charts his rise as he goes from a dead end and low paid job to soccer superstardom. It also takes a look at how the main character breaks away from the impoverished fate his father tells him he is destined for.
Whilst following the character, it looks at the problems faced by immigrants in America and also the struggles of settling in and coping with massive upheaval in your life. This is a likeable and entertaining movie that is a must see for anyone that has ever dreamed of becoming a worldwide soccer star.
4) Bend It Like Beckham
This movie is slightly different from the rest on the list, as it is an Indian-themed romantic comedy-drama that follows an 18-year-old Punjabi Sikh girl who has a love for soccer.
A re-telling of the classic coming-of-age story, it sees the girl forbidden from playing soccer but going against her family to sign for a local women’s team.
Not only a sports movie, this is a fun look at beliefs, culture, integration and independence that provides entertainment for lovers of any movie genre.
5) Escape to Victory
A star-studded movie set during the second world war that sees a team of allied POW’s, captained by a professional soccer player, agree to play an exhibition match against a German team.
Whilst training for the match, one of the allied players enlists the help of the French resistance to arrange a mass escape from the stadium where the game is being played.
This is a story about soccer, loyalty, strength of character, the will to win and freedom that has stood the test of time. This movie is as enjoyable now as it was when first released in 1981 and is a who’s who of late 1970’s – early 80’s soccer players.
Enjoy the Beautiful Game
All of the movies on this list are set against the backdrop of soccer but all have different sub-plots and messages that set them apart from other sports movies.
If you are a soccer fan that hasn’t yet seen all of these, you really should take the opportunity as soon as you can.