Soccer, being the planet’s favorite sport, probably doesn’t shock you that there are tons of movies about it. Now, these movies vary in quality, but hold up, there are some real gems that’ll tug at your soccer-loving heart. Check out our lineup of the top 32 soccer movies ever made. From imaginative tales to films inspired by real events, we’ve got it all covered.
1 of 31 Soccer Movies: *The Arsenal Stadium Mystery* (1939)
Get ready for a thrilling mystery right on the soccer field at the iconic Highbury home of Arsenal, the big shots from north London (they just won the FA Cup this year!). The one behind it all? None other than Thorold Dickinson, a top pick of Martin Scorsese. And guess what? The team’s manager George Allison, loaded with trophies, steps in as the manager in the movie, sharing words that would later shape the team’s sneaky strategy: “one-nil to the Arsenal, and that’s how we roll!”
2 of 31: *The Golden Vision* (1968)
Ken Loach, a familiar face among Bath City regulars, has frequently intertwined the enchanting world of football into his cinematic creations. One instance that stands out is the wonderfully disordered schoolboy match, a pivotal scene in his 1970 masterpiece “Kes.” And who could forget his collaboration with Cantona in “Looking For Eric”? However, it’s this 75-minute docu-drama, crafted by the BBC, that holds a special place in the hearts of not only Everton FC, the English football club, but also its devoted supporters. This film delves into the club’s essence and the unwavering passion of its fans, a treasure held dearly by the director’s own faithful following.
3 of 31: *The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick* (1972)
Among the ardent followers of world cinema, Rainer Werner Fassbinder stood out as the ultimate soccer enthusiast, with Bayern Munich holding a special place in his heart. Interestingly, Fassbinder never directly delved into the world of the sport. Perhaps he hesitated because Wim Wenders, a fellow member of the German New Wave, had already taken the lead. Wenders’ somber yet captivating adaptation of Peter Handke’s timeless existential novel, centered around a murderous Austrian goalkeeper, had already captured the spotlight.
4 of 31: *Escape to Victory* (1981)
Imagine a movie where real-world soccer champions like Pele, Bobby Moore, and Ossie Ardiles join forces with a lineup of Hollywood heavyweights including Michael Caine, Max von Sydow, and Sylvester Stallone. Now, picture this eclectic cast coming together in a delightfully absurd storyline that revolves around a high-stakes World War II match between Allied prisoners of war and the formidable Nazis. It’s no wonder that this cult classic consistently secures its spot at the pinnacle of soccer film rankings.
5 of 31 Soccer Movies: *Gregory’s Girl* (1981)
Bill Forsyth’s beloved Scottish gem unveils a heartwarming story, proving that girls can outshine boys both in the game and in matters of the heart. The narrative follows a gangly teenager as he fumbles his way through a comical romantic escapade with a strikingly beautiful blonde striker. In his pursuit, he uncovers the enigmas of attraction, realizing that even the off-side rule can appear simpler in comparison.
6 of 31: *The Firm* (1989)
In the realm of soccer movies, themes of hooliganism often take the spotlight, and “The Firm” stands as yet another confirmation of this pattern. Released in 1989, it was a trailblazer in portraying and even glamorizing this lifestyle. Set against the backdrop of West Ham’s Inner City Firm, the movie delves into the intricate world of hooligan activities. This tumultuous era, spanning the 1970s and 1980s, witnessed the escalation of such behaviors.
Within the film, the audience witnesses the delicate balance between leading a conventional life and embracing the hooligan identity, both the positives and negatives of this intricate juggling act. It resonates with the challenges many passionate soccer fans have grappled with throughout the years.
7 of 31: *Shaolin Soccer* (2001)
Picture this: association football reimagined as one of the lively martial arts. Imagine a mix of melodrama, comedy, western, and war genres all colliding in a whirlwind of action on the streets of Hong Kong. What came out of this creative blend? An absolute sensation at the box office locally, and even making a remarkable impact internationally. Stephen Chow’s exuberant and wildly funny spectacle of high-kicking excitement stands out as possibly the most amusing among all soccer-themed films.
8 of 31: *Bend It Like Beckham* (2002)
Back when “Bend it Like Beckham” first came out in the United States, not everyone really knew what this comedy flick was all about. It’s got two main girls as its stars. One of them has this big dream of going pro in soccer, which sounds cool, right? Well, here’s the twist – she’s from a Sikh family, where playing a sport like soccer isn’t really the norm.
But hey, hold on, she’s got this huge crush on David Beckham, and that’s why the movie’s got that quirky name. Her name’s Jess, and I’ll tell you what – she’s not the kind to throw in the towel. Despite all the odds, she sneaks onto a team and starts living this whole different life, kicking that soccer ball in ways she never even imagined before.
9 of 31 Soccer Movies: *The Miracle of Bern* (2003)
You know, Sönke Wortmann really did something special when he retold the story of Germany’s big win in the 1954 World Cup. They were up against the mighty Hungarian team, and let me tell you, it’s a classic underdog story that hits you right in the feels. But what makes it even more powerful is how the director brings out the heartache of Germany trying to get back on its feet after World War II messed things up big time.
And oh boy, when it comes to the action on that field, it’s like you’re right there in the middle of it all. It’s some of the finest soccer moments ever put on screen. You can practically smell the mid-20th-century soccer vibes.
10 of 31: *Goal!* Trilogy (2005)
Alright, listen up folks! Let me break down this hilariously cheesy guilty pleasure that might get some raised eyebrows from the more critical crowd. But trust me, you’re gonna want to savor every bit of “Goal!” Not because of its wild tale about a Mexican immigrant in LA who gets this crazy opportunity to play for Newcastle United way up in England’s cold, rainy north after catching the eye of a talent scout. No, no, no. The real treat here is the bunch of big-shot appearances – I’m talking about famous folks showing up left and right, even some of those Newcastle players from back in the day.
And let’s not forget Alessandro Nivola, who totally nails that role of the slacker star Gavin Harris. There’s this scene, too, where David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, and Raul try their hand at acting, and trust me, it’s hilariously wooden.
Oh, but wait! The craziness doesn’t stop there. They went ahead and cooked up a sequel that’s just as bonkers – “Goal II: Living the Dream,” released in 2007. Our hero, along with Harris, ends up at Real Madrid this time. And then, hold your horses, there’s a third installment called “Goal III: Taking on the World” from 2009. Now, this one takes a real odd turn – the main characters from before are shoved to the side, and a whole new story starts up. It was so poorly received that fans actually rallied for a remake. Can you believe it?
11 of 31: *Offside* (2007)
Here’s something refreshing for you, different from all those rough-and-tumble British hooligan movies we’ve been seeing lately. This movie, a real gem on the international scene, comes from the talented Jafar Panahi, though he’s unfortunately behind bars now. It’s all about a group of determined women fans who just won’t give up. They’re on a mission to catch Iran playing against Bahrain right at Tehran’s stadium, which has always been a no-go zone for them.
Now, let me tell you, with all the protests happening in Iran these days – the government’s clamping down hard on the folks speaking out and those fighting for women’s rights – this playful yet thought-provoking film seems like a flashback to a different time altogether.
12 of 31: *The Great Match* (2006)
This comedy tells the story of soccer fans in faraway places – Mongolian nomads high up in the Altai mountains, Sanema Indians deep within the Brazilian Amazon jungles, and Tuareg tribesmen journeying through the deserts of Niger. They all share a common goal: to watch the 2002 World Cup final live on TV. This movie perfectly captures how, for a whole month of the tournament, soccer unites the world. Don’t mind the occasional humor that might remind you of “The Gods Must be Crazy,” as it comes from the perspective of the Spanish director, Gerardo Olivares.
13 of 31 Soccer Movies: *Zidane — A 21st Century Portrait* (2006)
Considered by many as the finest French football player ever, it was almost destined that Zinedine Zidane would eventually become the focus of a documentary in his own country. Yet, the outcome in “A 21st Century Portrait” surprises by not being a simple adoration of the former Real Madrid star.
Zidane’s tale is distilled to a solitary match in his career, a 2005 league clash against Villarreal, where a scuffle led to his dismissal. Throughout this game, 17 synchronized cameras shadow Zizou’s every move, crafting an exceptionally raw portrayal of the player, a perspective we’ve never witnessed before.
Enhancing these stunning visuals is a subtle acoustic soundtrack curated by Mogwai. The result is a compelling work of artistic cinema, capturing a profound essence that definitely deserves your attention.
14 of 31: *Looking for Eric* (2009)
In this Ken Loach movie, it’s not just about what unfolds on the soccer field; it’s more like an exploration of fanaticism itself and how the game becomes a refuge from the monotony of daily life.
The story revolves around Eric Bishop, who’s fixated on Cantona, the legendary player. As Eric deals with a dead-end job, a strained relationship with his ex-wife, and a son seemingly drawn into the clutches of a local drug lord, his life starts unraveling. However, a turning point emerges when he tries his son’s marijuana and encounters the enigmatic Cantona, who begins offering him advice.
From that moment on, Eric’s life takes a positive turn as Cantona becomes a presence, guiding him to transform his uneventful existence. The film strikes a balance between raw realism and a form of escapism, while the acting of the ex-Manchester United legend lights up the screen with its captivating and slightly exaggerated charm.
15 of 31: *The Damned United* (2009)
Legendary English manager Brian Clough is a figure known for both his remarkable skills on the sidelines and his unpredictable, quirky nature. “The Damned United” endeavors to capture the multifaceted essence of the late coach of Nottingham Forest and Derby County, with a specific focus on one of the most challenging periods of Clough’s career.
The movie narrates the tale of the 44 tumultuous days when Clough took charge of Leeds United in 1974. This span of time has etched itself into football history as one of the most notorious and contentious phases. Starting off with an already strained relationship with the Elland Road players and fans, Clough’s unconventional methods and confrontational demeanor ignited almost open conflict within the team’s dressing room. Ultimately, he was dismissed a little over a month into his tenure.
In the central role, Michael Sheen delivers a powerhouse performance, unveiling Clough’s vulnerabilities and bravado as he grappled against the currents within his new club while retaining his humanity. Not everyone, however, was content with the portrayal: Dave Mackay took legal action against the filmmakers, deeming the depiction of his character in the film as inaccurate.
16 of 31: *The Two Escobars* (2010)
The shocking assassination of Colombian soccer sensation Andres Escobar in the aftermath of the 1994 World Cup—a tragic event triggered by his own goal against the U.S.—prompted American filmmakers Jeff and Michael Zimbalist to embark on a journey across South America. Their aim: to delve into the intricate ties between Colombian soccer and the drug trade.
Their documentary, which earned them awards, meticulously traces the stories of both Andres and “the other Escobar,” the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar (though unrelated to Andres). Interestingly, Pablo funneled a portion of his immense wealth into local clubs, setting the stage for Colombia’s “narco soccer” explosion during the 1980s and 90s.
17 of 31 Soccer Movies: *Underdogs* (2013)
Not many foresaw Juan José Campanella’s next move after his intense, Academy Award-winning crime drama “The Secret in Their Eyes” would be a 3D animated movie centered around an Argentine youngster whose soccer figures magically spring to life. However, “Underdogs” turns out to be a treat that brings joy to both movie buffs and soccer enthusiasts.
Campanella weaves his story with a flurry of quick movie nods, referencing iconic films like “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Apocalypse Now,” “The Seventh Seal,” and classic spaghetti westerns. Remarkably, he manages to balance these cinematic references while ensuring the soccer action remains engaging. Notably, the Pixar-style animation, which marked a milestone as the most expensive Argentine film at the time of its creation, is of exceptional quality.
18 of 31: *The World Cup in Recife* (2015)
Short films and soccer naturally go hand in hand, and Kleber Mendonca Filho’s 14-minute creation from his Brazilian hometown perfectly exemplifies this combination. It’s a succinct yet impactful portrayal that sheds light on how the beloved “working man’s ballet” can disrupt the lives of everyday people when a major tournament takes center stage. The film is concise, timely, and admirably perceptive in its exploration of these themes.
19 of 31: *Diego Maradona* (2019)
It was a match made in cinematic heaven: the fiery Argentine soccer icon Diego Maradona inviting the equally enigmatic Serbian director Emir Kusturica to delve into his life. This captivating documentary shadows the Pibe de Oro as he navigates the streets of Buenos Aires under Kusturica’s lens.
Perhaps it can be said that the filmmaker’s closeness to his subject sometimes blurs the lines; the understanding between these two tempestuous artists occasionally rubs against us, as Kusturica deliberately skims over the less savory aspects of Diego’s life to present the larger-than-life legend.
Yet, there are moments that shine brightly. One such instance is an interview with Maradona set within one of Buenos Aires’ renowned “cabaret” bars, with dancers in various stages of undress forming the backdrop—a scene that stands out. Equally unforgettable is the depiction of a marriage ceremony between two adherents of the Church of Maradona, right on the field of Argentinos Juniors. The climax, where the bride seizes a football and dropkicks it into a crowd of guests, is a sight to behold.
20 of 31: *Fever Pitch* (1997)
Fever Pitch takes its inspiration from Nick Hornby’s super popular memoir, but it’s more like a story that paints a vivid picture of how loving soccer like crazy can really mess up a relationship. Imagine a sweet romantic comedy where Colin Firth, who you might remember as that Mr. Darcy guy, plays a total Arsenal superfan. He’s head-over-heels for the team, and his love life is like a rollercoaster that rides all the ups, downs, and yummy middle parts of Arsenal’s super intense 1988-89 English league season.
Then, there’s this not-so-great 2005 American version that swaps soccer for baseball. Jimmy Fallon, the real-life Yankees fan, steps in as this crazy Red Sox supporter who can’t stop driving his girlfriend, played by Drew Barrymore, up the wall. You can almost feel the tug-of-war between their love and his sports obsession.
21 of 31 Soccer Movies: *Kicking & Screaming* (2005)
Kicking & Screaming deserves way more love than it gets; it’s like the hidden treasure in Will Ferrell’s lineup of sports movies. You might remember Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory, and the absolute gem, Semi-Pro, but this one’s the unsung hero. Directed by Jesse Dylan, it’s like a spotlight on Ferrell’s trademark goofy humor, but this time it’s set in the world of little-league soccer. Picture his uptight character trying to manage a bunch of kids, and you’ll find yourself chuckling as his composure slowly starts to crumble.
There’s this utterly delightful recurring joke about a pair of Italian ringers on the team that just keeps the laughs coming. And oh boy, the soccer jokes? They’re everywhere, and they’re great. Surprisingly, Ferrell got a Razzie nomination for worst actor for this movie, but like fine wine, it’s aged pretty darn well.
22 of 31: *When Saturday Comes* (1996)
Let’s start with a cool tidbit: this movie stars Sean Bean, and guess what? He doesn’t kick the bucket in it! When Saturday Comes is all about Sheffield, and it came out a year before that flick about male strippers made the city famous worldwide. The story is pretty straightforward: there’s this down-to-earth guy who loves a good drink and comes from a working-class background. He dreams of playing for Sheffield United, his hometown team, but for now, he’s stuck in the amateur leagues. Then, a scout notices him, and with a little help from his girlfriend, he gets his act together and makes his way to the big leagues.
What makes this soccer drama really stand out is Sean Bean’s awesome performance as the lovable Jimmy “12 pints” Muir. And guess what? The so-called far-fetched story actually happened in real life with Jamie Vardy, a striker for Leicester City, shooting to stardom. They’re even working on a Hollywood movie about him. Think “American Underdog,” but with more cussing and plenty of boozing.
23 of 31: *Green Street* (2005)
Not everyone’s on board with the whole soccer hooligan thing, but this movie kind of paints it in a positive light, at least a bit. So, here’s the scoop: the main character gets the boot from school, and what does he do? He hops on a plane to England to hang with his sis. And you know what catches his fancy? West Ham football. He ends up joining this crew called the Green Street Elite.
The movie’s a rollercoaster ride of the highs and lows of being a hooligan, and it’s pretty spot-on about it. Watching it is quite the experience, especially if you’re all about the English Premier League action.
24 of 31: *The Football Factory* (2004)
Soccer movies don’t always stick to what happens on the field. Some of the most popular ones lately choose to shed light on the darker side of the game: the hooligans.
While the more widely known Green Street led by Frodo Baggins caught attention globally, its Hollywood-style take on football violence didn’t quite match up with reality. That’s where The Football Factory steps in, based on John King’s novel. It paints a pretty bleak picture of the Chelsea firm, focusing on things like small-time theft, cocaine use, and casual racism.
The story follows Danny Dyer’s character as he spirals into a state of intense paranoia after an unfortunate run-in with Tamer Hassan’s character, who’s in charge of the hooligan group supporting rival team Millwall. The movie wraps up with a seriously intense brawl planned before a big Chelsea-Millwall cup showdown. And as the credits roll, The Jam’s “Going Underground” sets just the right tone to conclude the film.
25 of 31 Soccer Movies: *The Match* (1999)
This romantic comedy has a unique twist – it’s all wrapped up in soccer. Sure, there’s a dash of romance in there, but the main idea is quite straightforward. It’s all about a bet that’s made between two pubs in a little Scottish village. They’re competing to see who wins the 100th match, and the stakes are high – the winner gets to keep their pub, while the loser has to shut down forever.
As the story builds towards the big game, things take an interesting turn, making it a movie that’s definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yet. It might not be the absolute top-notch film, but if you’re a soccer fan, you’ll likely connect with how much these matches can mean to certain die-hard followers.
26 of 31: *The Game of Their Lives* (2005)
Not quite sold on the Miracle Match’s summary? Well, here’s an alternative for you if you’re up for a different spin on the United States’ unexpected victory. This one’s definitely worth a peek, especially if you’ve got some spare time and want to see a slightly different angle on the same story.
Finding these movies can be a bit of a hunt sometimes, but the good news is that this particular one is available on a few streaming platforms right now. Since the events we’re talking about are from way back, not everyone’s got the full scoop on the story. So, if you’re curious, why not give this version a shot? A fresh perspective can be quite eye-opening.
27 of 31: *Mike Bassett: England Manager* (2001)
An ingenious cinematic gem that takes great delight in flipping the usual script of sports movies where the underdogs shine. Enter Mike Bassett, the tale’s central figure—a coarse and foul-mouthed coach from the lower leagues, who unexpectedly lands England’s top coaching position. What follows is an uproarious uproar as he readies his team for the World Cup.
The narrative unfolds as a hilarious sequence of blunders, with our lead, portrayed impeccably by Ricky Tomlinson, stumbling from one catastrophe to the next. From accidentally summoning two utterly inept midfielders, Benson and Hedges, due to a mishap involving a team list scribbled on a cigarette packet, to the team’s superstar engaging in a romantic entanglement with a Brazilian transgender individual—every endeavor of the hapless manager careens off course.
Yet, amid the chaos, redemption beckons. While England doesn’t clinch the coveted World Cup victory, their honorable defeat against Brazil in the semi-finals restores Bassett’s tarnished reputation. Moreover, it grants his family respite from the barrage of insults and flying fruit they had endured. As the final whistle blows, our manager returns home with his head held high, a decision to step down now overturned in favor of continuing to guide the Three Lions.
28 of 31: *The Big Green* (1995)
Disney’s attempt to strike gold didn’t quite pan out with “The Big Green,” but it’s worth a spot on this list as a delightful children’s comedy. Back in 1995, a bunch of kids united with a common goal: to form a remarkable soccer team. Through ups and downs, and despite a bunch of oddballs in the mix, they managed to carve out a taste of victory.
For the little ones, this movie still holds a charm that can bring on the giggles. And for the grown-ups, it might trigger a nostalgic trip down memory lane to their own youthful days. While it might not be the ultimate cinematic masterpiece, there are moments that make revisiting it worthwhile in certain cases. Just don’t set your expectations too high for this one.
29 of 31 Soccer Movies: *Rise Of The Footsoldier* (2007)
This movie, grounded in real-life events, delves into the story of a past member of West Ham’s Inner City firm. It’s a journey that spans from hooligan days to a plunge into the criminal underworld, offering a captivating glimpse into how circumstances can transform rapidly.
Don’t mistake this for just another hooligan-centric film—it’s so much more than that. Imagine it as a unique spin that comes with a slew of unexpected twists, guaranteeing an experience that will keep you teetering on the edge of your seat.
30 of 31: *Ladybugs* (1992)
This is a funny movie about a girls’ soccer team filled with misfits hit the screens. Guess who was the coach? None other than Rodney Dangerfield himself! You might’ve missed it because of all those other ’90s sports films hogging the spotlight. But, trust me, it’s still a gem if you’re into seeing Rodney’s fun side.
At first, not many folks gave it a thumbs up. But as the years rolled on, something magical happened. People started liking it more and more. If you’re a kid who’s all about soccer, you might want to give it a shot. Who knows, you might end up giggling quite a bit!
31 of 31: *She’s the Man* (2006)
You won’t believe it, but “She’s the Man” turned out to be quite the surprise for many folks. Imagine this: a girl decides to dress up as a boy just to join the soccer team. Now, I know, it sounds a bit far-fetched, right?
But here’s the twist: Amanda Bynes, with her amazing acting chops, really made her character shine. People say she practically carried the whole movie on her shoulders. And guess what? The movie even became a bit of a hit at the box office, thanks to her.
Oh, and get this: you know Channing Tatum, right? Well, this movie marked one of his first appearances. He was part of the gang on the soccer team too. Can you believe it?
That’s it for the best soccer movies to enjoy. Don’t forget to check our guide of the best Soccer Video Games.
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