The best football documentaries ever

26 May 2021 07:30

The COVID-19 pandemic has given fans enough football to last a lifetime with fixtures every week. So how do you stop burnout? Watch some more football, obviously.

For those bored of switching between every available league in the world, football documentaries are a solid way of getting in the fix while having a break from the action.

90min has pulled together a list of 30 football documentaries that are worth you spending some time with. Probably best to get started on them now before the pandemic winds down.


30. Antoine Griezmann: The Making of a Legend (2019)

Antoine Griezmann is a world champion | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Everyone sort of squinted and shrugged their shoulders when the Antoine Griezmann doc was released in 2019.

There's a case to say it's a little premature, but he is a World Cup winner after all. A solid way to burn through an hour of your time, watching his respectable ascent.

29. Juventus FC: First Team (2018)

Juventus' series covered their domestic dominance | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Netflix followed around Juventus in the 2017/18 season to release a behind the scenes documentary.

It's not the most nail-biting thing in the world, but it's a decent gateway into football outside of England. There is an All or Nothing coming following the 2020/21 season, however - watch this space.

28. City! (1981)

City reached the 1981 FA Cup final and narrowly missed out against Tottenham | Getty Images/Getty Images

One that flies well under the radar, Granada TV pieced together a 12-part documentary in 1981 that followed Manchester City behind the scenes.

Modern production values would show it up, although the series presents a raw and focused reality on the club well before their 21st century, heavyweight stardom.

27. The End of the Storm (2020)

Liverpool won their maiden Premier League in unheard of circumstances | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Liverpool fans, please hold your grudges. The documentary following the squad in their maiden Premier League title win will only get better with age.

But for now, it's a little too fresh to be truly appreciated. Some top class drama is ready to be looked back on in a few years time with this one.

26. Inside Borussia Dortmund (2019)

Dortmund were inches away from the Bundesliga title | PATRIK STOLLARZ/Getty Images

Following clubs around behind the scenes of a season is a common trope for the docuseries, thus it does get a little tiring.

This one following around Borussia Dortmund is a solid effort, though, as they finished an agonising two points off Bundesliga winners Bayern Munich in the 2018/19 season - a campaign they were desperate to win.

25. Take Us Home: Leeds United (2019)

Marcelo Bielsa took Leeds back to the Premier League after 16 years away | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Following around a fallen giant in their quest to return to the English top flight, the Leeds docuseries has its high points.

Namely, having Daniel James literally posing for photos with the shirt ahead of a transfer, only for it to fall through in the final hour and miss out on his signing completely.

24. Make Us Dream (2018)

Local legend | STEVE PARKIN/Getty Images

A focus on the career of Steven Gerrard, 'Make Us Dream' depicts a fascinating story of the cost of loyalty over success at football's elite level.

Gerrard speaks about his extraordinary playing career as a local lad captaining Liverpool, and even pulls back the curtain on the possibility of him leaving the club in 2005.

23. Pele (2021)

Football's greatest | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

High production values are a godsend when trying to do justice to greats of a previous era.

For those who are in the dark about just how good Pele was in his peak and how his career unfolded, the Netflix documentary film serves as a solid way to learn more about the icon.

22. Hillsborough (2016)

An Anfield memorial to commemorate the tragedy | Jim Dyson/Getty Images

A damning and pertinent insight into the truths of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

Overcrowding on the hands of the police saw 96 football fans never return home, and a smear campaign followed for decades in an attempt to wrongly blame the victims who lost their lives. A must watch.

21. Don't Take Me Home (2017)

A tournament the Welsh will never forget | Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Simple yet effective, 'Don't Take Me Home' provides a feel good recap of Wales' incredible journey to the semi-final of Euro 2016.

Gareth Bale free kicks, Hal Robson-Kanu turning into prime Maradona and the Welsh on tour in Europe. The footy at its best.

20. Kroos (2019)

Kroos is one of the greatest midfielders to do it | Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

A film dedicated to one of the most complete midfielders of the modern era.

The Toni Kroos documentary requires subtitles for those not fluent in German, but it's worth it for a few tips to take into Sunday league, an insight into those infamous white boots, and his bizarre obsession with Robbie Williams. Understandable, to be fair.

19. Take The Ball, Pass The Ball (2018)

Guardiola's Barcelona were unstoppable | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Truthfully, the 2018 film covering Barcelona's glory years hardly reveals groundbreaking ideologies.

It's always nice to get a bit of insight into one of football's most supremely talented sides, though. Impossible to be even the slightest bit bored watching Pep Guardiola's Barcelona. Even Manchester United fans will agree.

18. Warnock (2005)

'Serves you right for f*cking Muscat' | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The memes. The quotes. Neil Warnock in full stride. This 2005 documentary has the lot.

All those incredible clips of Warnock you see floating about online come from this documentary, an ahead of its time piece following him around during Sheffield United's 2004/05 Championship season.

17. An Impossible Job (1994)

England failed to make the World Cup with one of their strongest sides | Getty Images/Getty Images

'An Impossible Job' follows the England national team in the 18 months leading up to their failure to make the 1994 World Cup.

Manager Graham Taylor came across as incredibly sweary yet honest, while viewers are also treated to watching the demise of a star-studded squad that included the ever iconic Paul Gascoigne.

16. Becoming Zlatan (2015)

Ibrahimovic's film gives fans an insight into life before the top level | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

'Becoming Zlatan' provides fans with a more detailed account as to how Zlatan Ibrahimovic developed into one of football's most eccentric yet talented stars.

Clips from his days at Malmo as a youth and his move to Ajax make for compelling viewing and provide a different angle to view Ibrahimovic from, away from the dominant persona we see these days.

15. Ronaldo (2015)

Sir Alex Ferguson was at the world premiere of Ronaldo's film | Ian Gavan/Getty Images

While a film detailing the life of Cristiano Ronaldo sounds incredible for many, the reality is that there is only so much you can achieve with it.

Ronaldo is such a high-profile figure that it becomes difficult to truly get under the skin of the four-time Ballon d'Or winner, but it still provides a glimpse into his life that we didn't have before. Definitely one to get around to watching at some point.

14. The Real Puskas (2009)

Ferenc Puskas is a footballing legend | Robert Stiggins/Getty Images

Looking at the man behind the now widely recognised Puskas Award, this 2009 film provides a unique insight into a footballing superstar of yesteryear.

Puskas was the pinnacle of Hungarian footballing excellence in the mid-20th century, and his ability to consistently showcase his talents make him a legend of the game that enthusiasts simply have to learn about.

13. All or Nothing: Manchester City (2018)

The series follows City in their record breaking Premier League campaign | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

It's still a touch too raw for non-Manchester City fans to appreciate - and again, high production values and watered down 'insight' is prevalent - but going behind the scenes with Guardiola's City is a treat.

Amazon's docuseries followed City around in their 2017/18 centurions campaign. A bit of shouting, lots of good football and the good bits in between. Worth a watch.

12. The United Way (2021)

Eric Cantona co-wrote the film | Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Directed by none other than Manchester United legend Eric Cantona, the United Way is certainly not the first or last film covering the Red Devils, but it's great cinema.

Cantona - eccentric and ostentatious as ever - runs down what it is that makes the club so special, and how United came to dominate the 1990s following the tragedy of the 1958 Munich Air Disaster.

11. Orient: Club for a Fiver (1995)

The O's currently play in League Two | Julian Finney/Getty Images

A low budget, fly-on-the-wall documentary following Leyton Orient ended up documenting one of the darkest hours in their history.

The O's had steadily recovered from a poor decade in the 1980s, but all the hard work collapsed in 1994 when the Rwandan Civil War lost chairman Tony Wood the bulk of his business, leaving the club relegated and completely cash-strapped.

10. The Game of Their Lives (2001)

The 1966 North Korean team caused a monumental upset | Central Press/Getty Images

Documentaries following football's biggest names are cool or whatever, but stories like this are where the real entertainment value is at.

'The Game of Their Lives' recaps an extraordinary story that only becomes further incomprehensible as time and political tensions progress. North Korea qualified for the 1966 World Cup and beat Italy 1-0, and were a Eusebio masterclass away from beating Portugal. Unimaginable.

9. I Believe In Miracles (2015)

Peter Taylor and Brian Clough at the 1980 European Cup Final | Getty Images/Getty Images

Living proof that - contrary to popular belief - English football existed before the Premier League.

The 2015 film 'I Believe In Miracles' tells the tale of how Brian Clough and Peter Taylor took Nottingham Forest to new heights, becoming back-to-back European champions in 1979 and 1980.

8. Next Goal Wins (2014)

Thomas Rongen was drafted in to manage the side in an attempt to make the World Cup | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Underdog stories are a little easy, but they never get boring.

Renowned as the worst international side in the world following a 31-0 defeat to Australia in 2001, footballing minnows American Samoa set about trying to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

7. All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur (2020)

Wherever Mourinho goes, elite drama follows | Julian Finney/Getty Images

While City's 'All or Nothing' was a tad boring with them sweeping up the Premier League, Tottenham's series fell at the perfect time for neutrals.

The series details the dismissal of Mauricio Pochettino and arrival of Jose Mourinho. Considering how Mourinho's spell with Spurs has panned out, it made for some seriously box office moments within the series.

6. Les Bleus: Une Autre Histoire de France (2016)

Zinedine Zidane holds the World Cup, 1998 | PIERRE VERDY/Getty Images

Following two separate World Cup winning stories, this 2016 documentary provides thrilling gravity to France's rise and fall from their 1998 triumph.

It drums up the meaning of football in France and highlights just how important the national side is to fans. Just a shame it wrapped up two years before they became world champions in 2018.

5. Diego Maradona (2019)

Maradona's film is a must see | AFP/Getty Images

Directed by Asif Kapadia - who also made films such as Senna and Amy - the Diego Maradona film is just as good as you would expect.

The film follows the extraordinary and ever-eventful career of the Argentine icon, who brought the game to life with an endless bag of tricks and passion, but was also tainted by his own demons.

4. The Class of '92 (2013)

The Class of 92 is a story that won't be repeated again | Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

It's very easy to do such high profile stories no justice, but this 2013 documentary does a solid job of covering the incredible story that is the breakthrough of 'Fergie's Fledglings'.

By no means is it perfect, but the film serves as a reminder that those six youth talents played a big part in completing a star-studded United side and warms the heart a little in such a success story.

3. Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager (2018)

Bobby Robson remains one of football's biggest names | Getty Images/Getty Images

Not only one of English football's most influential figures, but football as a whole.

Charismatic, supremely talented and endlessly respected, Bobby Robson's career as a player was bettered by his exploits as a manager, coaching some of football's greatest sides and earning the respect of the game's biggest names. A must-see for younger heads.

2. Sunderland 'Til I Die (2018)

The series cover Chris Coleman's time in charge at Sunderland amid ownership changes and other issues beyond his control | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Of all the big names and main event stars to produce football cinema on, it's Sunderland who hold one of the greatest documentaries to exist.

The Netflix production is magnificent and follows Sunderland after their relegation from the Premier League and subsequent demise. While providing humorous and meme-worthy moments, it's also tinged with the damning realities of life below the top flight, heightened by the sheer passion and resolute support of the local community who are involved in the show.

1. The Two Escobars (2010)

No relation to Pablo, Andres Escobar was murdered following Colombia's World Cup exit, having scored an own goal | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Topping the list is a film that breaks away from the mould of celebrating European football and the purity of the game we love.

'The Two Escobars' relives the harrowing tale of events within Colombian football that spilled out onto the world stage in 1994. Andres Escobar was shot dead following their disappointing exit from the World Cup, with Pablo Escobar's passion for football and need for clean money taking Atletico Nacional - Andres' domestic club - to new heights.

Source: 90min