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7 Movies on Football you must watch before you die

Every classic film about the beautiful game is to express why football is so important to so many people. Here we take a look at 7 movies on football you must watch before you die.

Last updated: 14.04.2021
Must Watch Football Movies | Sports Social Blog

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It's difficult to produce – or, at the very least, difficult to find – a successful sports film. It's just too popular to hear the paint-by-numbers fightback tale of an underdog team or individual triumphing against all odds. When you think about the difficulty of shooting a compelling football match with a cast of hundreds, it may sound like choosing a decent football film to watch is more of a hassle than it's worth. For every classic film about the beautiful game, there are a slew of others that are either too meh, cliched, or simply struggle to express why football is so important to so many people. 

So we shall look at the 7 of the best in no particular order:

1) Shaolin Soccer


A strong combination can be a straightforward tale told in an unconventional way. Shaolin Soccer is a film directed by Stephen Chow and featuring him as well. It tells a story of Shaolin kung fu master Sing. Sing reunites his five fellow masters after meeting Hong Kong football star Fung to use their martial arts skills to play football and introduce Kung Fu to the masses. Shaolin Soccer was the most profitable film in Hong Kong cinema history at the time of its release, before it was surpassed by Chow's next martial arts comedy, Kung Fu Hustle.

2) Goal! Trilogy

One could easily nickname this 300-minute marathon as The Lord of the Rings of professional football. Goal! is a three-part film that tells the story of Santiago Munez, a Mexican immigrant living in Los Angeles who works as a gardener but wishes to use his outrageous football skills. When he wins a trial with Newcastle United, his dreams come true, and while he struggles with the rain and cold of the British North East, Munez slowly establishes himself in his adopted country. Santi ultimately earns Newcastle a spot in the Champions League and proves his worth. The following films include a transfer to Real Madrid, a chance to star in the World Cup finals, and, as the title implies, plenty of goals, goals, and more goals.

3) Bend it Like Beckham

Bend It Like Beckham, starring Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley, was a critical and commercial success and remains a cultural touchstone for many. It follows Jesminder ‘Jess' Bhamra, a teenager who joins a local football team in defiance of her traditional Indian Sikh parents. The film's commentary on issues of race and multiculturalism in modern Britain is inspiring, insightful, and genuinely amusing, and a stage musical adaptation premiered in London's West End in 2015.

4) Football Factory

Not all football movies focus on what happens on the field. Some of the most famous games in recent years have emphasised the dark side of our sport: hooligans. While the Frodo Baggins-led Green Street was the more well-known film around the world, its Hollywood take on football violence did not quite match reality. The Football Factory, based on John King's book, is a bleak portrayal of the Chelsea football club, complete with petty theft, drug violence, and casual racism. Danny Dyer's descent into deep paranoia is chronicled in the film after an unpleasant meeting with the family of Tamer Hassan, the head of Millwall's hooligan outfit.

5) Mean Machine

This adaptation of the 1974 American football comedy The Longest Yard stars Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham. Jones plays Danny ‘The Mean Machine,' a disgraced former England captain who was suspended from the game for match-fixing before being jailed for attacking two police officers while inebriated. Meehan eventually adjusts to his new surroundings and starts coaching an inmate team for a match against the warden's team. Meanwhile, the warden bets on himself to recoup the money he owes to shady bookmaker "Barry the Bookie."

6) Looking for Eric

Looking for Eric, a film by Ken Loach released in 2009, is less about football and more about the relationship between football and its fans, as well as the humanity of the celebrities it creates. By the time this was written, Eric Cantona had already appeared in film and television for nearly 15 years, and his role as the Manchester United legend was well received. The guidance he gets from a hallucination of a footballer-turned-philosopher Cantona pulls postman Eric Bishop's life back on track after he smokes weed stolen from his stepson. Loach's film walks a fine line between football's escapism and reality's grit, and it does so admirably.

7) Escape to Victory

Escape To Victory, a 1981 classic that remains a Christmas Day staple in many British homes, is difficult to imagine a football film ever getting close to its enduring mass appeal. Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, Pele, Bobby Moore, and Ossie Ardiles star as Allied POWs plotting a daring escape from a Nazi POW camp in this film based on the 1962 Hungarian film Two Half Times In Hell. The scheme goes awry, but with the prisoners trailing 4-1 at halftime, an opportunity to flee presents itself. However, in true cinematic form, they resolve to continue – “We can still win this” – and heroically battle back to achieve a draw, before fleeing in the post-match chaos as fans flood the pitch. It isn't a flawless film. For many, however, it is the ideal football film.

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