When it comes to soccer and movies, there have been some absolute classics that really take hold of the passion involved in the game. Whether it involves the growth of a young player who dreams of being a professional player (Goal!) or it is a group of kids being mentored by a rather animated coach (Kicking and Screaming) the final message is always the same – we play the game because we love it!
Here we take a look at some of the best soccer movies to ever hit the big screen and give you some details on what each movie is about (SPOILER ALERT!)
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No. 10 – Kicking and Screaming
Starring: Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall
Why you'll love it: Takes a humorous (but sometimes accurate) approach to parental coaching.
For every soccer parent out there, this is a movie that you need to see. Why? Because it is a perfect example of what we don’t want to see on the sidelines of youth soccer in the US. There are plenty of “Phil Weston” style managers out there, dysfunctional coaches that are a little too excited to coach players things they don’t really understand themselves. Don’t be this guy. There is still a lot to enjoy about this movie, Will Ferrell is his usual comical self and the kids demonstrate an ability to overcome the bad guys. What more do you want?
No. 9 - Mean Machine
Starring: Vinny Jones, David Kelly, Jason Stratham
Why you'll love it: Lots of humor, the lethal Monk in goals and a great commentary team of Bob and Bob highlight this one.
What is better than a prison movie where the inmates get to take out their frustration on the facetious prison guards? Better yet, add in one of the angriest players to have ever played the game in real life as the lead character and you have a winning formula. Vinny Jones was no stranger to controversy, yet he somehow managed to stay out of prison in real life. Although he wants to keep his head down and just serve his time, his role in this movie is to assemble a team of mishaps that can compete with the well trained guard team.
No. 8 - Fever Pitch
Starring: Colin Firth, Ruth Gemmell
Why you'll love it: What do you think happens when a lifelong, die-hard soccer fan falls in love?
There is a realistic feel to this movie, as a die-hard Arsenal fan finds himself falling in love while his club goes through the motions. Just like in real life, the single man gets a free ticket to focus his entire attention on his team. But, when a relationship comes into play things start to change slightly. Based on Nick Hornby's bestselling autobiographical novel, Fever Pitch, this is the perfect movie for introducing your non-educated lady to the game. She gets some romance, while you get to show her just what it means and takes to be a true supporter of a soccer team.
No. 7 - Green Street Hooligans
Starring: Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam, Claire Forlani
Why you'll love it: A dramatic look at life as a hooligan in the English soccer scene.
For those that don’t know what a “Hooligan” is, let this movie enlighten you in dramatic fashion. If you don’t enjoy violence, stay well clear! This is less about soccer on the pitch and more about what happens off it and the incredible fan problems that existed through the 80s and 90s. It follows the story of a wrongfully expelled Harvard undergrad, who then moves to London and is taken in by the GSE (Green Street Elite) 'firm.'His introduced to the violent underworld of football hooliganism might seem dramatic but it was once part of English society within the game.
No. 6 - United
Starring: Dean Andrews, Kate Ashfield
Why you'll love it: Relive the behind the scenes story of the "Busby Babes", one of the most famous group of players to have ever played the game.
One of the most impactful disasters in soccer occurred on February 6th, 1958 – the Munich air disaster. United is a movie based on the true story of Manchester United's legendary "Busby Babes", eight of whom perished in the devastating crash along with 12 other members of the 44 on board the aircraft. The film draws on first-hand interviews with the survivors and their families to tell the inspirational story of a team and community overcoming terrible tragedy. Although there is a dark side to this movie, you also get to see the resilience that has continually been part of the sport, along with plenty of insight into the happenings behind the scenes during that period.
No. 5 - The Game of their Lives
Starring: Wes Bentley, Gerard Butler, Gavin Rossdale
Why you'll love it: A mis-fit team put together within 2 weeks, and they beat the "big" team. The perfect US sports story.
One of the greatest achievements for US soccer was the unforgettable 1-0 victory over England at the 1950 world cup in Brazil. This movie depicts the true story of that team, a team that was created from obscurity to claim one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. This is a story of underdogs and a celebration of what can happen when a group commits to being united, working together. In order to understand US soccer and the current dramatic growth of the game here, this movie needs to be seen.
No. 4 - The Football Factory
Starring: Danny Dyer, Frank Harper, Tamer Hassan
Why you'll love it: This one is sure to shock you, introducing a side to football you might not have known existed!
Believe it or not, this story is built on the behind the scenes actions of hooligans in the English game. It is violent and downright scary, with fans showing their true colors by seeking out fights with fans of other clubs. This movie follows the story of a Chelsea fan, Tommy Johnson, who is just a self-proclaimed normal bloke, working during the week for “f*ck-all money”, drinking his nights away looking to get laid and living for the weekend. The movie centers on one of the most violent fan relationships in the game, between supporters of Chelsea and Millwall football club. The only negative is the fact that it glorifies football hooliganism but it is a realistic depiction that needs to be seen and understood.
No. 3 - Victory
Starring: Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, Pelé
Why you'll love it: Pele and Sylvester Stallone playing soccer on the same team - what more could you want?
There is definitely nothing modern about this movie, but with a cast of Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine and Pele (yes, the Brazilian legend) this is a movie that has to be seen. The storyline takes you to back to Nazi-occupied Paris as a team of allied POWs prepare for a soccer game against the German National Team. The French Resistance and British officers use the occasion as an opportunity to plan the teams escape. It might take place during one of the most controversial times in world history, but the premise is simple – soccer is a universal language, understood by all and played in every circumstance.
No. 2 - Goal! The Dream Begins
Starring: Kuno Becker, Alessandro Nivola, Anna Friel
Why you'll love it: Covers every players dream of being spotted by a scout and called up for a try-out with a pro team.
Every soccer fan has daydreamed about putting on their favorite team’s jersey to grace a stadium full of chanting fans. It is the goal of every young player growing up, and Santiago Munez is a footballer who gets to live it out! In the movie, he gets scouted and transferred to English team Newcastle United. The movie follows his transition in the team, learning that it is a lot different playing against a brash group of pro players on a muddy pitch in Newcastle and discovering there is a lot more to making it as a pro player. It is a fresh insight and delivers a level of romanticism for any player looking to make it to the next level! Also, isn’t Chicarito living this movie via his recent move to Real Madrid?
No. 1 - The Damned United
Starring: Colm Meaney, Henry Goodman, David Roper
Why you'll love it: A romantic look at one of the top English managers and how the game was run in the 70s and 80s.
Being able to recount and live through the storied coaching career of one of the best ever is definitely worth experiencing. Brian Clough was witty, sharp tactically, a believer in playing the game beautifully and one of the most entertaining managers there has been. The Damned United explores his successes and failures (a 44-day reign at England's top football club Leeds United) while you also get to see what happened behind the scenes during one of the more romantic times in English football. There was no social media and clubs were not owned by billionaires. Instead, it took a lot of smarts and managers really had to work to integrate the right blend of players together.