English football is called the ‘beautiful game’ for good reason, and we don’t blame you if you’re already psyched for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Before we start the real countdown, get into the spirit and excitement of the game with some of the best football movies of all time.
There are classics like Bend It Like Beckham, which caught the attention of the national and international audience, and of course Goal: The Dream Begins which is a must-watch for every hardcore football fan. The list of the best football movies goes on with classics like Escape To Victory, alongside some comparatively new ones like Pelé: Birth of A Legend. You’ll be raring to don your cleats after, we promise.
10 best football movies to watch before the World Cup 2022 kicks off
Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Directed by: Gurinder Chadha
Cast: Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Synopsis: Amongst all other football movies, this one hits home. Jesminder Bhamra or Jess (Nagra) is an Indian-born teenager living in London and is passionate about football much to the chagrin of her orthodox parents. She idolises former English footballer David Beckham and wishes to rise above high school football and play professionally. Jules (Knightley) is her best friend on the football team. Joe (Meyers) is their coach and a common love interest. This coming-of-age football movie is about Jess finally finding her own identity through college football while enduring pressures from her orthodox household.
Awards won: Audience and Special Jury Award for Chadha, Best Actress for Nagra and Knightley—Bordeaux International Festival of Women in Cinema
Watch Bend It Beckham here.
Goal: The Dream Begins (2005)
Directed by: Danny Cannon and Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Kuno Becker, Alessandro Nivola, Anna Friel, Stephen Dillane
Synopsis: Santiago Muñez (Becker) is a talented but underprivileged Hispanic boy playing for an underdog football team. He has no means to play the game professionally until he is spotted by the Newcastle scout and former Scottish player Glen Foy (Dillane) who gets him on a football programme and pushes him to realise his true potential.
Watch Goal here.
Green Street Hooligans (2005)
Directed by: Lexi Alexander
Cast: Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam, Claire Forlani
Synopsis: This football film is about Mutt Becker (Wood), a rebel who gets expelled from Harvard. He visits his sister in London only to be drawn into the gang infamous for getting into drunken brawls and hooliganisms. Playing football was a huge part of their lives.
Awards won: Best Feature Film—Malibu Film Festival, LA Femme Filmmaker Award—LA Femme International Film Festival.
Watch Green Street Hooligans here.
The Damned United (2009)
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Cast: Michael Sheen, David Roper, Colm Meaney, Henry Goodman
Synopsis: Set in the year 1974, this is a story of the tumultuous 44-day stint of Brian Clough (Sheen) as the manager of Leeds United Football Club. Brian takes over the reins of the club after extremely popular Don Revie (Meaney) quits to represent a national football team in England. Brian is bold and authoritative and in a hurry to implement his style of playing the game on the players who oppose his approach.
Watch The Damned United here.
Fever Pitch (1997)
Directed by: David Evans
Cast: Colin Firth, Ruth Gemmell, Luke Aikman
Synopsis: Adapted from Nick Hornby’s book by the same name, the film is an ultimate tribute to all football fans obsessed with their favourite team. Paul Ashworth (Firth) is a hardcore Arsenal fan. The movie traces his journey as he navigates his love life and career while being addicted to watching football.
Watch Fever Pitch here
Pelé: Birth of a Legend (2016)
Directed by: Jeff Zimbalist, Michael Zimbalist
Cast: Kevin de Paula, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rodrigo Santoro, Diego Boneta
Synopsis: The film documents the true story of the legendary goalscorer for Brazil, making for one of the best football movies of all time. It traces Pelé’s journey from a local high school football team and enrolling on a football programme to finally winning the World Cup for the country. Young Pelé (Kevin de Paula) leads Brazil to its historical 1958 FIFA World Cup victory under the guidance of Vicente Feola (D’Onofrio) in this biographical sports film.
Watch Pelé here.
Escape to Victory aka Victory (1981)
Directed by: John Huston
Cast: Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallon, Pelé
Synopsis: Set in World War II, this movie is about one game that unites them all. Allied Prisoners Of War, including Capt. Robert Hatch (Stallone), Cpl. Luis Fernandez (Pelé) and Capt. John Colby (Caine), form a football team to play football against the German National Team in the then-Nazi-occupied Paris in a bid to escape from the Nazi camp.
Awards won: Outstanding Translated Foreign Film—Huabiao Film Awards
Watch the Escape to Victory aka Victory here.
She’s The Man (2006)
Directed by: Andy Fickman
Cast: Amanda Bynes, Laura Ramsey, Channing Tatum, James Kirk
Synopsis: This light-hearted romantic football movie that makes up for a perfect weekend viewing follows Viola Johnson (Bynes) as she impersonates her twin brother Sebastian (Kirk) to join his boarding school to play college football. She promptly falls for the star player of the high-school football team Duke (Tatum) and complications arise between the leads.
Awards won: Choice Comedy, Choice Breakout Male for Tutum, Choice Liplock for Bynes and Tutum—Teen Choice Awards
Watch She’s The Man here
Football Factory (2004)
Directed by: Nick Love
Cast: Danny Dyer, Frank Harper, Tamer Hassan
Synopsis: Revolving around Tommy Johnson (Dyer), who is an ardent supporter of the football club, Chelsea, the most significant part of the film is the Chelsea-Millwall Football Association Challenge Cup (FA) clash.
Awards won: Kodak Award for Best Cinematography for Damian Bromley—Dinard British Film Festival.
Watch The Football Factory trailer here.
(Main and Featured image: IMDb)