Over the years, the world has witnessed many stories related to the beautiful game on and off the football ground, and inspired by those stories and incidents, many movies and documentaries were made. Some of the works have really caught the eyes of the public, whereas some others have become a tribute to the illustrious past. Here are the best football documentaries ever made.
10. George Best: The legacy (2009)
George Best enthralled a generation with his performances on the pitch and this documentary serves as a fitting tribute to the Northern Ireland man, and was released in 2009, a few years after his death. It covers the interviews with Best’s former teammates, friends and family, giving an insight into Best’s personal and professional life.
A hero of Manchester United’s European Cup win at Belfast in 1968, Best’s life outside the pitch was of luxury, girlfriends and drugs. Equally likeable for his mavericks on and off the field, this documentary is a good watch for those who need to know what Best was like in the eyes of the people who were closer to him. Best may have bid his time to the world, but he had already left a legacy behind him, evident in this documentary.
9. Puskas Hungary (2009)
A tribute to the late Hungarian football legend Ferenc Puskas and his exploits with the national team, this documentary directed by Tamas Almasi released in 2009 contains very nice archived footage of the player who was famous for his left foot with which he scored the majority of his goals.
Apart from the plaudits he received for his lasting legacy with the Magical Magyars during the 1950s, this documentary also examines Puskas’ personal life, management career and his controversial decision to change nationality. Narrated by Jozsef Gyabronka, this video features Franz Beckenbauer, Alfredo Di Stefano, Ramon Calderon and many other esteemed personalities during the playing days of Puskas, and won a few awards.
8. The class of ‘92 (2013)
Released in 2013, this documentary focuses on the careers of the finest players to have risen from the Manchester United academy during the earlier days of the Premier League era. Centred on the rise of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt, the documentary details the friendship forged by them outside the football pitch as well as the culture of Britain.
This video covers the time period from the year 1992 to Manchester United’s famous treble winning season in 1999, with all the six players playing their part in the club’s success. Also including interviews with Zinedine Zidane, Eric Cantona and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, this is a must watch for the diehard fans of Manchester United.
7. Messi (2014)
Nothing catches the eyes more often than the story of a little Lionel Messi rising from the small town of Rosario in Argentina to become the messiah of world football. Released in 2014, with a running time of 93 minutes, this documentary is a tribute to the five-time World Footballer of the Year.
Starring Messi along with his Barcelona teammates Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique, former Argentine player Jorge Valdano, and also featuring the late Dutch and Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff, this documentary, which is shot well and have been edited nicely, discusses the journey of Messi, and the influential figures that propelled the little Argentine to stardom.
6. Hillsborough (2016)
This documentary throws light into the Hillsborough disaster that occurred during Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final match against Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989, and was released on the 25th anniversary of the tragedy.
The documentary included interviews with the relatives of the 96 fans who were killed in the tragic incident, the survivors, the support groups formed after the incident, and the policemen and investigators associated with the event. Fresh inquests began on 31 March 2014 and after hearing the evidence for two years, on 26 April 2016, the jury sitting at Warrington as part of the inquest, concluded that the 96 football supporters were unlawfully killed, thereby granting justice for the victims after 27 long years of suffering.
5. Fascism and football (2003)
How are Mussolini, Adolf Hitler and Franco, the three fascist dictators related to football? This BBC documentary which released in 2003, shows how football was used as a tool by these three leaders for their political propagandas that affected lots of players and supporters with corruption, sabotage and murder in the backdrop.
Mussolini’s uncredited role in Italy’s World Cup victories in 1934 and 1938, German national football team’s defeat at the hands of Norway in the 1936 Olympics with Hitler watching, are some of the subjects in this documentary, that blended politics, power and the beautiful game together. Also aided by historians and several former players, this video is a throwback to the initial years of FIFA.
4. The Crazy Gang (2014)
Broadcasted on 26 December 2014 by BT Sport, The Crazy Gang documents the rise and fall of Wimbledon F.C. which rose to the First Division of English football from the Fourth Division within the span of four years, with them reaching the pinnacle of their success story when they claimed the FA Cup in 1988 by defeating Liverpool 1-0. The broadcast coincided with the newly reformed AFC Wimbledon’s clash with Liverpool in the FA Cup, with the former playing in the fourth-tier.
The documentary shows the bullish attitude of the Wimbledon players during the period and depicts their violent behaviour, unmatched in English football history, and how the club attained the nickname, The Crazy Gang. This is a never before said story of a club who had their own conventional, physical style of football, that mirrored the behaviour of the players outside the pitch, labelling them as the most notorious gang of misfits.
3. One night in Turin (2010)
Released in 2010, this documentary focuses on the exploits of the England football team in the 1990 World Cup in Italy which ended with their semi-final loss to Germany on penalties. The English football game was a far cry from the Premier League days of now, and with no expectations before the tournament and receiving plenty of rebukes from all corners, the England team embarked on a great run, thrilling the fans and uniting the country before succumbing to Germany in Turin.
Narrated by the legendary Hollywood actor Gary Oldman, the documentary contains archived footage of England’s journey to the semis which includes moments like Platt’s late winner against Belgium and Paul Gascoigne’s sensational goal against Scotland.
2. Jack to a king: The Swansea story (2014)
This documentary is all about the Welsh club Swansea City, and how the club rose from the bottom echelons of the Football League to the grand stage of the Premier League. The club was almost out of business, but the love of the people to their club brought the city together in saving Swansea City, drawing parallels to some of the fairy tale sports dramas seen on the screens.
Swansea City gained promotion to the Premier League in 2011 and have established themselves as a decent mid-table team. The documentary was released when Swansea City was joint top in the Premier League in September 2014, marking how far the club has come after those difficult times.
1. The two Escobars (2010)
Directed by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, this intriguing documentary which released in 2010, focuses upon the lives of Andre Escobar, the Colombian footballer who was infamously shot dead five days after his own goal against the United States eliminated his nation from the 1994 World Cup, and the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, who had his own connections with Colombian football.
The documentary pours light on the relationship of Colombian football association with the mafia, and how both the Escobars, affected the game in their country, albeit in different ways. Both of them were never related to each other, and their stories were told in the backdrop of football, politics and crime in this engaging documentary.