Best Soccer Movies

7 Best Soccer Movies

Soccer offers all the on-field drama a writer could ever need to build an action-packed and thrilling work of fiction. 

The addition of engaging characters, a compelling setting along with moments of joy and jeopardy, gives directors the tools to create a truly memorable sports film. 

But which are the 7 best soccer movies?

7. Looking For Eric (2009)

Looking For Eric

Released in 2009 and directed by Ken Loach, Looking For Eric stars Steve Evets, John Henshaw and the legendary Eric Cantona himself. This sports comedy-drama follows a middle-aged postman who works for the Manchester sorting office and is going through a dreadful personal crisis.

The film received “favourable” reviews upon its release, described as “uplifting, entertaining and an amusing socio-drama featuring a match-winning performance from Eric Cantona.”

6. Goal! (2005)


Director Danny Cannon’s movie Goal! tells the tale of Santiago Munez, a Mexican cook living in Los Angeles who has a chance to follow his dream of playing professional soccer. If he can find a way to England, Munez can try out for the Newcastle United team!

The film stars a reasonably unknown cast that includes Mike Jefferies, Adrian Butchart and Dick Clement. The UEFA Perspective called the movie “brilliant” and that its “impressive sports action sequences are the highlight.”

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5. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Bend It Like Beckham

Bend It Like Beckham was released in 2002 and directed by Gurinder Chadha. Starring Parminder Nagra, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Keira Knightley, the plot centres around the daughter of a strict Indian couple in London who is not allowed to play soccer and yet eventually makes it to semi-pro level.

The film surprised critics and was met with mostly positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 85% saying it was “inspiring, compassionate and with a sly undercurrent of social commentary.”

4. Escape To Victory (1981)

Escape To Victory

Starring big hitters like Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine and Pele, 1981’s Escape To Victory sees Allied prisoners in a camp during the Second World War play an exhibition match against a German team.

Directed by John Huston, the American-British-Italian sports war film contains action considered some of the most accurate depictions of the sport in film history with convincing flicks, pacey dribbling and dizzying edits.

3. When Saturday Comes (1996)

When Saturday Comes

Maria Giese both wrote and directed the incredible When Saturday Comes starring Sean Bean in the lead role with Emily Lloyd and Pete Postlethwaite supporting. 

The plot follows an aspiring pro soccer player, a heavy drinker going nowhere with the unlikely dream of playing for Sheffield United’s first team. The film was widely praised as a “fantastical rags to riches sports movie with a keen eye for working class based social realism. One of the better soccer based movies out there.”

2. Shaolin Soccer (2001)

Shaolin Soccer

Released in 2001, Shaolin Soccer was directed by Stephen Chow, who also played a lead acting role alongside Zhao Wei and Ng Man-tat. 

The story revolves around a former Shaolin monk who reunites his five brothers, applying their superhuman martial arts skills to play soccer and bring Shaolin kung fu to the masses. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an 89% approval rating and is an incredibly popular watch. 

1. The Damned United (2009)

The Damned United

Starring Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Jim Broadbent and directed by Tom Hooper, 2009’s The Damned United recounts Brian Clough’s 44-day stint as manager of Leeds United. 

Based on the book by David Pearce, the movie was critically acclaimed by reviewers, receiving an approval rating of 92%. There was universal praise for the film with both a masterful and uncanny performance by Sheen.

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