Top 10 – Soccer Movies

Back before 3rd Degree joined ESPN/Dallas and the DMN, I used to make Top 10 lists.  Not that a top 10 list is a unique idea or anything.  I stopped doing them because they weren’t very news’ish.  But now that we are independent again I’ve been wanting to bring them back.

And with the current social distancing and people staying at home due to Covid-19, now seemed like a good time to kick the series off with a movie list. 

So here we go…

To 10 Soccer Movies

10. A Shot at Glory (2000)

Robert Duval, Michael Keaton… what else do you need? Ok, how about Ally McCoist?  Small town, old player, even older coach, a daughter, and they chase a Cup and glory. Pretty simple. And again, Robert Duval.

9. The Damned United (2009)

The story of Brian Clough very short-run (44 days) as Leeds United coach. Starring Michael Sheen who I quite like.  Screenplay by Peter Morgan who wrote Frost/Nixon, The Last King of Scotland, and The Queen.

8. United (2011)

The story of Manchester United’s legendary “Busby Babes” and the 1958 Munich Air Crash.  Starring David Tennant another actor I pretty much always like.

7. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

A pretty famous movie in its day, quite an enjoyable story and well-liked by most viewers. A story about cross-culture friendship in youth soccer starring Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley.

6. Diego Maradona (2019)

The stunning documentary about Diego Maradona that aired domestically on HBO. Maradona is and was a god-like figure in many circles and the myth often is at odds with real living.

5. The Game of Their Lives (2005)

Based on a true story of the 1950 US World Cup team that upset England (spoilers!) 1-0 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  The US went on to finish 3rd in that World Cup. Starring Gerard Butler and Patrick Stewart. See if you can spot John Harkes in it.  Also, it features some of the living players from the 1950 team as themselves.

I’m probably biased.

4. The Full Monty (1997)

A comedy classic from the 90s and just a fantastic film all tighter. It takes place in Sheffield and one of the main characters spends a large part of the movie wearing a Sheffield United jersey. 

Ok, I cheated, but it’s a freaking fantastic movie and you should watch it anyway. He really does wear the jersey a bunch though.

3. Fever Pitch (1997)

A romantic comedy – written by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity) and starring Colin Firth – about an obsessed Arsenal fan trying to balance his life and fandom.  It’s also an even better best-selling book.

2. The Two Escobars

Another amazing documentary, this one a 30 FOR 30 about drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and Colombian footballer Andres Escobar, though unrelated they are none-the-less inexorably linked. There’s a big US connection to this one.

1. Victory (1981) – A.k.a Escape to Victory

What else could it be?  Allied soldiers in a German prison camp form a soccer team and take on the Nazis.  Starring Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, Pele, and Max von Sydow. With soccer players Bobby Moore, Osvaldo Ardiles, Kazimierz Deyna, Paul Van Himst, Mike Summerbee, Hallvar Thoresen, Werner Roth and a bunch of Ipswich Town players.  This is THE classic football movie.

Future Shout Out – Coming Soon

Next Goal Wins (2020?)

Not the 2014 documentary of the same name (although that might be worth watching too) but rather a new film by Taika Waititi (The man’s a genius!) about Thomas Rongen’s attempt to turn American Samoa’s National Team into something respectable.  Starring Michael Fassbender and Elisabeth Moss. Currently in post-production.

Next Goal Wins from a tweet by Kyle Buchanan. (via Fox Searchlight)

Propaganda Garbage

United Passions (2014)

The FIFA funded propaganda Sepp Blatter slobber fest.  Starring Sam Neill, Gérard Depardieu, and Tim Roth. It’s about FIFA under three presidents: Jules Rimet, Joao Havelange, and Sepp Blatter.  Dan Crooke wrote a review of it back in 2015.

Dan Crooke Recommends

Mike Bassett: England Manager (2001)

The England manager, the biggest job in the sport and the one no-one wants. Follow Martin Bashir in this mockumentary as The FA seek to replace the former manager who died of a heart attack while trying to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil. Ricky Tomlinson is fantastic as the title character in my personal number one soccer movie, and you’ll see cameos from Pele and Ronaldo as a bonus. It eventually spawned a spin-off TV series.


  1. Other soccer movies:
    Green Street Hooligans (Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam)
    Goal (there are 3 of them, the first one isn’t trash)
    Lady Bugs (Rodney Dangerfield)
    Mean Street (Longest Yard remake with Vinnie Jones)
    The Big Green (Steve Guttenberg)

  2. i was about to take your “soccer card” away for putting up Bend it Like Beckham and not Green Street Hooligans 😉

  3. Also, a little closer to soccer than The Full Monty might be Formula 51 (The 51st State). Also with Robert Carlyle (and Samual MF’in Jackson), one of the characters spends the whole movie trying to get tickets to a Liverpool / ManU derby. Not a blockbuster by any means, but definitely a good watch.

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