Soccer and film have always had a good partnership. There’s something about the drama of the beautiful game that makes for an engaging film. This guide will look at some of the best soccer films ever made.
Escape to Victory (1981)
This is the story of an Allied PoW team attempting to win a football match in Nazi Germany, not only as an act of defiance but also to buy time for their escape. The film has some big names involved: Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, and Pelé all turn up at different points during the film. To be honest it’s hard to take any of the performances seriously given that they’re hamming it up for all they’re worth!
Mean Machine (2001)
Danny Dyer and Vinnie Jones headline this British comedy, which tells the story of a man who, along with his teammates, is sent to prison after being found guilty of match-fixing. They are then offered the chance to play in Britain’s most violent football league as part of their rehabilitation. The film boasts an impressive roster of real-life players including Teddy Sheringham and Neil Ruddock. Sadly, that doesn’t make it any more watchable than other examples on this list!
Looking for Eric (2009)
The story of a postman trying to come to terms with his crumbling life, including the loss of his job and failed marriage. However, he finds comfort in the fact that his beloved Manchester United is back on form after having been knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Barcelona in the previous season. Despite being nowhere near as entertaining as Escape to Victory, this film manages to become quite touching towards the end thanks largely to a fantastic performance from Steve Evets, who plays Eric Cantona.
The Goal! Trilogy (2005-2009)
This is another example of the beautiful game being combined with a real-life story. The Goal! trilogy follows Santiago Muñez, a young footballer from Mexico who moves to America hoping to kickstart his career. You can guess what happens next but it’s worth watching for the sheer likability of star Kuno Becker and supporting cast Steve Howey and Jessica Lorenz. They’re all terrific in supporting roles. Be warned though, this film will get you reaching for the Champions League betting odds ready to place a bet on your favourite team.
Fever Pitch (1997)
Fans of Nick Hornby probably know this one already. An autobiographical tale of falling in love with Arsenal that any football fan will relate to. It has a strong cast including Colin Firth and Rachel Griffiths, but it is the story itself that really carries the film and makes it something special.
The Damned United (2009)
Directed by Tom Hooper (star of the brilliant The King’s Speech), this film tells the story of Brian Clough’s attempt to bring success back to Leeds United. Despite being an interesting period in the club’s history and boasting strong performances from Michael Sheen, Colm Meaney, and Timothy Spall, it failed to really capture the public’s imagination on its release. It didn’t help that most football fans already knew how this one ended.