The sweet smell of the pitch, the collective heartbeat of the thundering crowd…the pressure. The beautiful game remains undefeated and, with Netflix, you can join a winning team from one of the best soccer movies ever.
With the rise of the sports documentary (although, they’ve always been around, really) has come a whole selection of “footie flicks”. If you’re stuck in a paradox of choice, we’ve got you covered with the following picks.
20. Back of the Net
If lighthearted family fun is what you’re after, we highly recommend that you take a look at Back of the Net, a 2019 comedy sports film that follows Cory Bailey, a science student who hops on the wrong bus and ends up at the Harold Soccer Academy summer camp.
Unable to correct the mistake, Cory is forced to adapt and make the best of the situation. During her stay, she meets a bunch of cool friends and sparks a feisty rivalry with one of the senior members of the team.
Back of the Net combines science and soccer in a fun way, as Cory rises above expectations to play a crucial role for her teammates and herself.
Corey Bailey is played by American actress Sofia Wylie.
19. Boca Juniors Confidential
The ominous Bombanera is not the kind of place you want to visit as an away player. The legendary stadium is home to one-half of Buenos Aires’ feisty Superclasico duo, Boca.
Boca Juniors Confidential is a 4-part film that follows the team as they look to defend their Argentinian titles and mount an assault on the South American Libertadores trophy. The return of an icon is also one of the main highlights of another glorious campaign.
18. Concrete Football
All the greats of the game, from Pele to Ronaldinho and Zinedine Zidane will tell you the best place to properly hone the skills and mentality required to make it to the very top of the game is the streets.
Concrete Football is a documentary that highlights how street matches can be coordinated with official academy programs to produce more complete players. Modern soccer players need to be highly adaptable, so where better to train than the unpredictable streets?
A special light is shone on players like Ousmane Dembele, a World Cup champion and star player for FC Barcelona, and how they polished their game in the cages of Paris.
17. Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal
Bollywood films rarely get the love and exposure they deserve, so let’s take a look at a good one.
Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal is a Hindi film that focuses on the Bhasin family, frequent victims of racial abuse because of their patriarch, Jaidev’s support of the all-Asian Southall FC in England’s lower divisions.
The protagonist of the film, Sunny Bhasin, believes his father’s views of a segregated society are outdated, as he seeks to be defined by more than his skin color. Unfortunately, some parts of the country don’t have that memo and young Sunny quickly gets a taste of Jaidev’s point of view.
Sunny quickly seeks refuge at Southall, where his talent begins to change the team’s fortunes. Soon, he is scouted by bigger teams with deeper pockets who dangle temptations that could threaten Southall’s future…
16. Antoine Griezmann: The Making of a Legend
Antoine “Grizou” Griezmann was always destined for the top.
Ever since his days as an exciting, but frustrating young winger at Real Sociedad de Futbol, Antoine has been catching the eye with his silky dribbling skills, pace, and self-sacrificing work rate.
However, many of Europe’s biggest clubs were reluctant to give him a chance because of one little issue…his small size.
Well, that was until Diego “Cholo” Simeone, head coach of Atletico Madrid FC, took a chance on the young Frenchman. Together, Cholo and Grizou would strike fear in the hearts of the established European elite, proving that it’s not always about the size of the dog in the fight…
The Making of a Legend is an unprecedented first-row seat into the life of one of the game’s premier stars, as he proves his doubters wrong and leads his nation to the pinnacle of the sport.
A must-watch for any soccer fan.
15. First Team: Juventus
The Bianconeri (black and white) have had quite a bit of a rollercoaster arc over the last two decades.
After beginning the 21st century as you would expect (winning titles, challenging for bigger titles), Juventus FC was rocked by the 2006-scandal-that-shall-not-be-named. This sent the club on a downward spiral in the Italian ranks, which led to severe financial bleeding and an exodus of world-class players.
Fast-forward 11 years and Juventus were back in their pomp and gearing up for the 17/18 season, the setting of First Team: Juventus.
Whether you’re a fan of the Old Lady or not, you will certainly enjoy witnessing the meticulous planning of coach Max Allegri, the technical wizardry of star man Paulo Dybala, and the atmosphere at the classy Juventus Stadium. “Fino alla fine” is the collective cry in the stands as Juve secure victory after victory.
The mountainous city of Turin is a worthy backdrop as Juve bask on their perch and aim for even greater heights.
14. Holy Goalie
This hilarious Spanish sports comedy is about a group of monks who are faced with a showdown for the future of their church.
Facing closure, the monks of St. Theodosius church have to raise funds to pay back their considerable debts. The best chance they have is to enter the Champions Clerum tournament and (somehow) defeat the champions, Vatican Soccer.
A classic-style sports comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Holy Goalie is a fun way to spend an evening.
13. Anelka: Misunderstood
Loyalty is still kind of a big thing in European soccer.
And it was a HUGE thing when Nicolas Anelka was in his pomp back in the late ‘90s and all through the 2000s. To many fans, he didn’t have it.
You need to realize that legendary status at a particular club is often the basis for legendary status in the game as a whole. Anelka has often been accused of doing pretty well for many of his several teams, before jumping ship (or being kicked out) without truly unleashing his potential the way settled athletes tend to do.
Then there’s the Frenchman’s public image, which is dotted with controversial statements, public fallouts within squad camps, and a certain celebration. He’s also left a sizeable number of club fanbases feeling betrayed because of his sudden departures.
Anelka: Misunderstood may be Nicolas’ way past overdue response to some of the allegations levied against him, but it’s also a genuine invitation to join him in reflecting on a spectacularly unique career. Mind you, the former Arsenal, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Juventus, West Bromwich Albion, etc. striker bagged more than his fair share of goals…and trophies.
The 90-minute doc sees guest appearances from the likes of Didier Drogba, Thierry Henry, and Arsene Wenger.
12. Pele: Birth of a Legend
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, aka “Pele” or “O Rei” (The King), is the greatest player to ever kick a football…at least according to the man himself.
To be fair, the numbers and accolades back it up. Pele boasts three World Cup titles and a staggering 1,282 goals, feats that will likely never be topped. While many great players have defined their respective eras, Pele remains an all-time icon.
However, before all that, he was simply Edson, a kid enjoying life in the city of Três Corações and nursing a generational talent.
Actor Kevin de Paula does an exceptional job of bringing young Edson to life, as he details some of the challenges the young Brazilian had to overcome in pursuit of an impossible dream.
Pele: Birth of a Legend gives us a view of Pele’s childhood, as well as the family and coaches that played a big role in polishing his exceptional talent. From playing soccer with fruits to lighting up the Brazil national team, and the world, at such a young age, Pele’s story is simply incredible.
11. Azzurri: Road to Wembley
Before 2021, the Italian national team had become something of an afterthought. Doubtless, a football culture haunted by corruption and scandal had weakened the nation’s appeal as a football destination for the sport’s best players.
However, with elderly stalwarts like captains Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci giving the last bits of their careers to form a solid foundation for a generation of rising stars, the Italians were back with a bang at Euro 2020.
Under the watchful tutelage of coach Roberto Mancini, we take a behind-the-scenes look at the tactics, dedication, passion, and pain required to be a champion. With exclusive takes from the squad and staff, Azzurri: Road to Wembley is a whole new experience of when “it came Rome”.
10. Le K Benzema
Real Madrid CF
dictator president Florentino Perez has famously claimed that it would take “a billion euros” to make him even consider selling Karim Benzema to another club.
The French striker has it all…a killer eye for goal, velvety touch, a big game clutch gene, and bags of fighting spirit.
Since 2015, Karim has needed all of that fighting spirit to help clear his name following his alleged involvement in a blackmail attempt on former France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
After years of silence, Benzema finally answers the big questions.
The doc also looks at Benzema’s rise from a hot prospect to his current status as the world’s premier number 9. Reliving his finest moments for Olympique Lyonnais, Real Madrid, and the French national team is pure joy and a reminder of how the game should be played.
Le K Benzema is a well-earned victory lap for a player who has achieved everything in the sport. We also take a look at the man off the pitch, his family’s heritage, as well as the fast-paced luxury lifestyle he is famed for.
With Benzema currently enjoying unprecedented levels of form lately, don’t be surprised to see a sequel in a few years.
9. Summer of ‘92
A Danish delight.
This film follows the events of the 1992 European Championship, a tournament Denmark had qualified for via the backdoor after the original spot-holders, Yugoslavia, fell into some geopolitical issues and conflict.
As they say, you’ve got to be in it to win it…and the lucky Danes rode that wave all the way to total glory. Fueled by the talents of MVP Michael Laudrup, the Danish team was a banana skin everyone tripped over, and their achievement is given its proper due in Summer of ’92.
A great lesson on the power of self-belief and maintaining calm in the face of uncertainty.
8. Losers: The Jaws of Victory
Torquay United FC is a far cry from Manchester United FC.
While the behemoths of the game cruise along by burning millions and millions of guaranteed TV and commercial dollars, little clubs like Torquay face a never-ending task of plugging holes in the vessel.
The year 1987 was more than just business as usual for the seaside men, as years of bad results, bad coaching appointments, and bad accounting came home to roost. The Gulls were facing the real prospect of losing their status as a professional club if they didn’t secure enough league points.
Of course, like in all the great sports films, the team’s survival mission came down to the last game of the season. A ninety-minute window to preserve 88 years of history…
A must-watch for any soccer historian, and anyone who loves a true underdog story…and dogs.
7. Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager
The late Sir Bobby Robson is considered to be royalty in England…and beyond.
Not only did he prove himself to be an elite coach by succeeding with powerhouses like Newcastle United, PSV Eindhoven, FC Porto, and FC Barcelona, but he also did it while sporadically engaged in a war with cancer.
Sir Bobby’s revolutionary tactics, leadership, and sheer bravery earned him a place in football history, and in More Than a Manager, we revisit some of his highlights, taking in the thoughts of former players and proteges. A certain Jose Mourinho is just one of the Englishman’s mentees, such was his influence.
Another one for history lovers.
Take a trip to the dark side of soccer fandom with this fiery Italian action-drama. We follow Sandro, the head honcho of a violent group of hooligans known as the Apache.
As ever, the gang bays for blood, causing chaos at games up and down the country. However, with the wisdom of age, Sandro laments the emptiness of their lifestyle and wishes to alter the course of any youngsters looking to emulate him.
Sandro’s teen neighbor, Angelo, is one of these youngsters…and he’s dead set on becoming an Ultra just like him.
If fast-paced crime flicks are your thing, Netflix has you covered with this one. While it is an interesting reminder of one of the beautiful game’s not-so-beautiful sides, Ultras also has time to explore the complexity of human motivations and the ever-present potential for positive change.
But yeah, for the most part, it’s another cool Italian-themed action film…with a bit of soccer mixed in.
Arsenal Football Club is one of the biggest soccer institutions in England, and the world, because of moments like those detailed in this epic documentary. The 1988/89 season will live forever as one of the greatest in English soccer history.
The season saw Arsenal and rivals Liverpool FC engaged in a titanic tug of war at the top of the English First Division as the finish line came into view. Each side was virtually matching the other win for win, and goal for goal.
The title race would be decided on the final day, where Arsenal would travel to Anfield, Liverpool’s famous home ground. The away side had a simple (in theory) task: win by two goals…
The Gunners prevailed, seeing off the hosts with two late daggers to send the away section into sheer ecstasy.
’89 is a reflection by players, staff, journalists, and fans who witnessed the miracle.
4. Pele (2021)
So good he has to be on this list twice, Pele is back with a more personal documentary.
Pele, an original Netflix production, looks the legend’s career in a bit more detail, with a special focus on his Santos days as well as highlights like the 1970 World Cup. With Brazil plagued with political and economic struggles, Pele and his teammates would prove to be a unifying force for a nation on the brink of permanent division.
Award-winning film producer Kevin Macdonald showcases all of his talents to put a new spin on a story that has been told many times before. This is Pele as you have never seen him, behind the glitz, the glamor… and the endless barrage of goals.
3. Baggio: The Divine Ponytail
Very few nations are as soccer-crazy as Italy. Given the country’s impressive World Cup record (they have won the tournament four times), victory is not only expected but demanded.
Few men understand the weight of such expectations better than Roberto Baggio, aka The Divine Ponytail, a man whose talents on the pitch defined an era.
The Divine Ponytail, which stars Andrea Arcangeli as the former Juventus FC and Italy attacker, is a history lesson like no other. Younger fans now have the opportunity to get a taste of Baggio’s brilliance, as well as his unpredictable personality.
We also get to relive the miracle that was Baggio’s comeback from injury in time for the 1994 World Cup, another stage he owns with absolute class.
A maestro with the ball at his feet, Roberto Baggio’s glorious orchestra comes to a crescendo with one defining kick…
2. The Hand of God
Diego Maradona’s iconic (yet slightly controversial) goal in 1986 serves as the perfect thematic device in the Netflix drama The Hand of God.
Set in the ‘80s, the film follows Fabietto, a native of the soccer-mad city of Naples, as local club Napoli teeters on the brink of signing the maddest player of them all…
An explosive piece of storytelling brought to life by the timeless director Paolo Sorrentino sees the great Maradona play an ethereal role, yet retain the same influence he had on the field. An absolute masterclass in filmmaking, so absolutely no spoilers. Can’t recommend this one enough.
The Hand of God is hardly a film but an experience.
1. Neymar: The Perfect Chaos
TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY-TWO MILLION EUROS…
That is the number that haunts Neymar Jr., both in the media…and in his mind.
The sum Paris Saint-Germain paid to FC Barcelona to secure the services of one of the biggest names in all sports seems to be a millstone everyone wants to hang around the Brazilian’s neck. How does he stay above the surface?
Neymar: The Perfect Chaos is a rare view into Ney’s inner sanctuary, as it highlights the people who have impacted his growth as a player, and as a man. Juggling being a father, a friend, a global superstar, and playing soccer at an elite level is all in a day’s work for Brazil’s number 10.
The documentary focuses on how public image can differ from reality, as Neymar shows his humble side. Well, as humble as one can be in a life filled with private helicopters and the most exclusive parties.
After all the goals, trophies, controversies, injuries, memes, and pranks, Ney reveals that he’s just a young man blessed with a supreme gift on the field. Regardless of what you think of him, this brief look into his life will help you decide…
Batman? Or Joker?