Football documentaries offer something that mere YouTube highlight reels can’t – a deeper insight and appreciation for the natural ability, eras, teams, and players featured on the film. Whether you’re a casual fan or a football fanatic, here are five of the best, must-see classic documentaries to ever tackle the beautiful game.
Next Goal Wins
There’s a reason why Close-up Culture is including this movie in more than one best movies list. It’s lightning in a bottle. Next Goal Wins is the story of how the notoriously terrible American Samoa national team was whipped into shape – sparked by the arrival of their then-new coach, the famous Thomas Rongen. The American Samoa national football team went from losing 31-0 (seriously) against Australia to almost qualifying for World Cup back in 2015. Next Goal Wins delightfully captures the heart and soul of the ultimate underdog football team.
The Game of Their Lives
This documentary is the only one that tackles the world of football from a North Korean perspective. It’s about how the reclusive nation’s football team unexpectedly made it to the 1966 World Cup quarter finals in England. The surviving members of the DPRK’s ‘66 team relive how they defeated the much-favoured Italy and won over the fans at Middlesbrough’s old Ayresome Park.
An Impossible Job
Graham Taylor wasn’t just the strategist who led Watford through its best years in the Premier League. He was also a man of integrity, intense charisma, and a tenacity that inspired his closest friends and greatest critics alike. His death at age 72 on January 12, 2017 was a dark day for football fans everywhere. This documentary shows what it’s like to be an elite football manager at international level, as well as a legend of the game.
From home footage of Lionel Messi playing football as a child in Argentina, to how he eventually conquered football under Barcelona, the 97-minute Messi is an inside look into the life and career of arguably the most talented forward of all time. In order to properly tell the story, the makers of this documentary enlisted the help of other football legends close to the man. This includes the great Andres Iniesta, who is the most decorated Spanish football player in the country’s history. Iniesta is the perfect choice to provide insight into Messi as together they won three Club World Cups, three Super Cups, four Champions Leagues, six Copa del Reys, and nine La Liga titles at Barcelona. Iniesta is joined by fellow decorated players Gerard Pique and Johan Cruyff in providing testimonials about Messi, whom fans know to be a man of few words.
Kicking & Screaming
A must see for football fanatics, Kicking & Screaming is a six-part BBC-produced television documentary about the history of English football. It tackles everything from the unregulated matches between villages and neighbourhoods to the eventual conception of the Premier League. An education in both English history, sport and understated, old-school humour.