“It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.” – Sir Bobby Robson
Football is the world’s game, a sport that doesn’t discriminate based on nationality, ethnicity, class or familial history. As a player, there’s only one rule: if you’re good enough, you make it to the top. As a supporter, football has the ability to unite villages, cities and even countries. At EURO 2020, we saw how it could also unite the world; Finnish and Danish fans putting rivalries aside to chant in support of stricken Denmark hero Christian Eriksen, the rest of Europe following suit as the tournament rolled on.
For such a popular sport – one watched by over 1 billion people during the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup finals – there haven’t been too many successful films about football. Like so many sports, it seems the tension, surprise and the beauty of what makes it such an unbelievable spectacle truly are too difficult to replicate. But that hasn’t stopped some from trying…
We here at The Film Magazine have scoured the globe for otherworldly filmic talents to put together a European Championships final of sorts, picking 22 of the best football films in history to take to our hypothetical Wembley Stadium football pitch and showcase their talents. From the very best football documentaries to the funniest comedies and the most heartfelt of dramas, in this movie list we offer you 22 world class football movies.
1. One Night In Turin (2010)
Director: James Erskine
In the summer of 1990, 23 year old Paul Gascoigne – a man of humble beginnings and from the heart of England’s working class north east – stole the hearts of a nation, embodying the courage, passion, the hope and the despair of a people.
This is that story.
2. Goal! (2005)
Directors: Danny Cannon, Michael Winterbottom
Mexican born US immigrant Santiago substitutes the warmth of California for the rain and mud of Newcastle upon Tyne in an attempt to make his dream come true of becoming a professional football player in this tale of overcoming barriers and adversity.
Goal features arguably the most realistically choreographed matchday sequences of any football film in history.
3. Take the Ball Pass the Ball (2018)
Director: Duncan McMath
Featuring unrivalled insight into arguably the greatest club side to ever play the beautiful game, this star-studded documentary – including the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol and David Villa – examines manager Pep Guardiola and his attractive to watch, ever-dominant version of FC Barcelona, the football club they call “more than a club”.
4. Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006)
Directors: Douglas Gordon, Philippe Parreno
An exhibition of one of football’s most gracious players, Zinedine Zidane, this documentary truly elevates the pitch-prowling efforts of its subject into something close to high-art.
Travel back in time to see the great Zizou at the very top of his game.