Even though soccer is the world’s most popular sports, there’s a surprising lack of films about the beautiful game. In America, it seems that there are more movies about college football than the soccer variety. But we’ve combed the video stores, e-commerce sites and streaming destinations to pick out the best-of-the-best — everything from documentaries to dramas and even some comedies too.
Here are the top 20 greatest soccer films of all time:
1. The Two Escobars
The Two Escobars tells the story of two Colombians: One a football player, the other a drug baron. The player, Andres Escobar, led the Colombian national team to unprecedented heights on the soccer pitch, and helped make Colombia a dark horse at the 1994 World Cup. The drug baron, Pablo Escobar, led Colombia into a war on the streets as rival drug cartels fought a bloody battle for supremacy. This documentary tells the tale of two men whose lives crossed paths, and changed a country, national team and sport forever. The documentary is riveting, emotional and powerful. It’s a must-see.
2. Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait
This 2006 documentary follows one of the game’s greatest players, Zinedine Zidane, throughout the 90 minutes of a single match. Zidane was filmed during Real Madrid’s April 23, 2005 match against Villarreal using 17 synchronized cameras that followed his every movement made during the match (even his sending off). The film is set to a soundtrack by Scottish experimental-rock band Mogwai, who contributed a dark-brooding backdrop to the film.
3. Once In A Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos
The rise and fall of the North American Soccer League and The New York Cosmos go hand in hand. Once In a Lifetime tells the story of the original Cosmos beginning in the late-1960s until their untimely ending in 1985. An unbelievable story of greed, goals and girls. The Cosmos had world famous players Pele, Franz Beckenbaur, Carlos Alberto and Giorgio Chinaglia — at the peak of their careers (with the exception of Pele) — and were the original superstar team of world football. This documentary features interviews with many of the North American Soccer League’s former stars, with the exception of Pele. Also featured is plenty of match footage and narration by actor Matt Dillon.
4. Fever Pitch
Not to be confused with the US version about baseball, Fever Pitch is the true cinematic interpretation of Nick Hornby’s seminal novel. Hornby adapted his original work into a fictionalized movie about a man’s love of football and love for a woman. The movie focuses on Colin Firth’s character Paul Ashworth, a north London schoolteacher. Ashworth is a diehard Arsenal fan who falls for a fellow teacher. What follows is Ashworth’s attempts to stabilize his two love lives as they continually clash. Not nearly as good as the book, but the film is still worth watching.