The world of football has changed dramatically over the last few decades, thanks in no small part to shifts in media coverage and player access. In today’s culture of celebrity and twenty-four-hour news, footballers are under far greater scrutiny than they once were, and we as viewers are given a window into their lives. This has also created opportunities for footballers to present and shape their own media image, as with Rio Ferdinand’s “Rio’s World Cup Wind-Ups”, created ahead of the 2006 World Cup alongside agent and producer Chris Nathaniel. Before the days of footballer’s producing their own tv shows however, it was up to screenwriters and directors to create films based on great football stories, and we have compiled a list of the all-time greats right here.
Of the many football-themed documentary films created, The Class of ’92 clearly stands out as the most entertaining and insightful. The film documents the progression of six young Manchester United youth players (you know the names by now), to see them becoming Premier League and treble-winning superstars. Through intimate footage of dressing rooms, personal backgrounds and the wider culture of the time, and interviews with other great players of their generation, the documentary gives a great insight into one of the greatest teams ever to play the game.
Whilst documentary films afford a great opportunity to show real, intimate footage of players and managers, it is perhaps through football-themed movies that fan’s imaginations have best been captured. Arguably, no film fits this description better than the 2001 movie, Mike Bassett: England Manager. Depicting a hapless manager in his attempt to lead a bunch of oddballs to World Cup Glory, the wealth of in-jokes, player caricatures and familiar range of emotions make this a firm favourite amongst hardened fans.
The final inclusion on this list goes to the 2002 classic Bend It Like Beckham. The film follows the trials and tribulations of a young, second-generation British Asian girl in her attempts to pursue a career in women’s football. No doubt an inspiration to a generation of young girls in an era when women’s football was still not widely accepted and racial stereotypes persisted, Bend It Like Beckham doesn’t shy away from the big issues and deserves it’s place on this list as a great football film.