Best Soccer Documentaries: Top 10 Must-Watch Films for True Football Fanatics
As an affiliate, we may earn from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website. You can read more on our Affiliate Disclaimer here.
What could be better than sitting back and diving into some of the best soccer documentaries ever made? If you are a soccer fanatic, you have come to the right place.
I will share the ten best films on everything soccer, from stories about legendary players to tales from behind-the-scenes. These films will take you on a journey through time and bring to life some of the most iconic moments in soccer history.
Let’s get started!
- The Impact of Soccer Documentaries
- The Birth of Football and Its History
- Pele, Maradona, Messi: The Greatest Players in Soccer History
- World Cups – From Uruguay 1930 to Russia 2018
- Once in a Lifetime – The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos
- The Two Escobars – Tragedy During Colombia's Golden Era
- Maradona by Kusturica: The Man Behind the Legend
- Next Goal Wins! – Struggling Teams Surging Back on Global Stage
- Class of '92 – Manchester United's Legendary Generation
- Zidane – A Portrait from the Heart
- Kaiser! – The Story Of World Cup Pretender Carlos Henrique Raposo
- Les Bleus Une Autre Histoire de France From Deschamps To Zidane
- The Final Cut
The Impact of Soccer Documentaries
Documentaries have always played an essential role in capturing real-life stories that tend to go unnoticed by mainstream media or are simply too good not to be shared with millions around the world.
Soccer documentaries are no exception. They;
- expose us to different cultures,
- offer deep insights into individuals’ lives who have shaped soccer as we know it today,
- showcase gripping drama both on and off pitch
So whether you’re new to soccer or live for matchday excitement every weekend (and sometimes weeknights), here are ten must-watch soccer documentaries that will surely quench your thirst for gripping narratives about this beloved sport.
The Birth of Football and Its History
- A Brief History Of Football (2011): This documentary takes viewers on a fascinating trip back in time when football was first introduced as an organized sport. From its early beginnings in England during medieval times up until the present day global phenomenon, A Brief History Of Football thoroughly explores how this beautiful game has spread worldwide alongside various changes made within social structures throughout centuries.
Pele, Maradona, Messi: The Greatest Players in Soccer History
- Pelé: Birth of a Legend (2016): Depicting the life and career of Brazilian soccer legend Pelé, this biographical film chronicles his meteoric rise from humble beginnings in São Paulo to leading Brazil’s national team to their first-ever FIFA World Cup victory in 1958. It’s a must-watch for if you’re interested in learning more about one of football’s all-time greatest players.
- Diego Maradona (2019): A British documentary film directed by Asif Kapadia, Diego Maradona centers around the Argentinean icon’s time with Napoli and the famous 1986 World Cup win. The incredible highs and lows of Diego Maradona‘s life are laid out before you, as you dive into the psyche behind this fascinating character.
- Messi (2014): In this documentary directed by Álex de la Iglesia, you’ll get an unprecedented look at Lionel Messi‘s life on and off pitch. Featuring interviews with family members, coaches, teammates – including Cristiano Ronaldo – Messi is an intimate portrait that explores what makes him one of soccer’s living legends today.
World Cups – From Uruguay 1930 to Russia 2018
- The History Of FIFA World Cup: Official Films Collection: This documentary traces the illustrious history of the tournament spanning almost a century, from its inception in Uruguay in 1930, to the Russia World Cup.
From iconic goals by legends such as Pele and James Rodriguez to nail-biting penalty shootouts, the films capture every moment of glory or heartbreak.
The weeks-long group play matches and brutal knockout stages generate an electric atmosphere, with millions of fans experiencing the ecstasy of victory or the heartbreak of defeat.
Once in a Lifetime – The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos
- Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos (2006): If you are an American soccer fan, you’ll love this documentary that tells the rags-to-riches story of how the New York Cosmos became one of most glamorous and popular teams within North American Soccer League during 1970s.
You’ll see how the team attracted global superstars such as Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer to play Stateside while raising soccer’s profile exponentially throughout United States.
The Two Escobars – Tragedy During Colombia’s Golden Era
- The Two Escobars (2010): This investigative ESPN film explores the influence of powerful drug cartels on Colombia’s “golden generation” of soccer players during the late 80s and early 90s.
It delves into the connections between the murder of legendary player Andrés Escobar following his own goal at the USA ’94 tournament, infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar, and various teammates who were directly involved in these tragic events.
The documentary sheds light on the dark side of soccer, where corruption lurks beneath the surface, while showcasing the incredible talent possessed by Colombia’s players, which was tragically overshadowed by the violence surrounding their success. The aftermath of these events continues to impact the country today, forever changing its trajectory for future generations.
Maradona by Kusturica: The Man Behind the Legend
- Maradona by Kusturica (2008): In this documentary, Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica offers a personal and insightful view of Diego Maradona, showcasing his personal struggles and giving you an intimate look at one of soccer’s most enigmatic figures.
Next Goal Wins! – Struggling Teams Surging Back on Global Stage
- Next Goal Wins! (2014): After suffering a humiliating 31-0 defeat in 2001, the national team of American Samoa went from being considered the world’s worst football team to potential World Cup qualifiers.
This heartwarming story captures their remarkable turnaround led by Dutch coach Thomas Rongen, who brings passion and determination to inspire his new players towards victory.
Class of ’92 – Manchester United’s Legendary Generation
- Class Of ’92 (2014): This is a celebrated documentary chronicling the rise of six exceptionally gifted Manchester United players – David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt & Phil Neville. The film showcases their journey together at Old Trafford during the mid-90s, as they strived for club success while maintaining a deep, brotherly bond.
The documentary features extensive interviews with the players themselves, as they recount the dedication and camaraderie required to achieve greatness on the pitch. Their achievements inspired future generations of footballers, who dreamt of one day joining the ranks of this exclusive group of legends.
Manchester United, with its devoted fans across the globe, remains a symbol of excellence in English soccer, and “The Class of ’92” embodies the very spirit of the club.
Zidane – A Portrait from the Heart
- Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006): Using unique cinematography to focus solely on French legend Zinedine Zidane during a league match for Real Madrid in 2005, this documentary provides an enthralling study of the man’s incredible skill and presence. The film captures his actions both on and off the ball throughout the entire fixture, providing an enthralling study of the man’s incredible skill and presence.
You’ll witness football at its purest form through the eyes of one of the greatest players to ever grace the pitch; with the display of his sheer artistry and masterful execution reminding why very few athletes compete at the level of mastered perfection like him.
Kaiser! – The Story Of World Cup Pretender Carlos Henrique Raposo
- Kaiser! The Greatest Footballer Never to Play Football (2018): This astonishing documentary tells the bizarre story of Carlos Kaiser, a Brazilian man who built an entire professional soccer career without actually playing a single minute of a competitive match.
He did this through an elaborate series of cons and deceptions to fool numerous clubs into signing contracts, believing he was a legitimately skilled player when in reality, he was far from it. The lies have now been unraveled, revealing one of the biggest frauds in the history of sports entertainment.
Les Bleus Une Autre Histoire de France From Deschamps To Zidane
- Les Bleus: Une Autre Histoire de France (2016): This comprehensive documentary delves into the intricate relationship between the French national soccer team and France’s diverse population over the past two decades.
The film examines significant events such as the team’s 1998 World Cup victory on home soil, the 2001 match against Algeria, which was interrupted by fans invading the pitch, and the infamous player strike during the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
It features insights from former players, including Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps, who currently serve as coaching staff at various levels within the organization- alongside outside observers to provide additional context and commentary surrounding the evolving dynamics experienced throughout this period.
Enjoy the human side of the passions and emotions involved behind the scenes, providing intimate portrayals of individual biographies that create a captivating experience. The film is filled with suspense and is engrossing from beginning to end!
The Final Cut
There you have it – the best soccer documentaries to watch for true football fanatics. Each film offers unique perspectives and often untold stories that captivate audiences while shedding light onto some of the most fascinating aspects of this globally adored sport.
So go ahead – grab some popcorn and indulge in these intriguing tales of triumph, tragedy, legends and underdogs; after all, isn’t that what soccer is all about?