“Champions League Ball” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by prakash_ut
Okay, you’ve seen many of the great sports movies based on football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey but soccer has also lent the drama of its internationally popular game to the movies. Here, we take a look at four focusing on soccer that you’ve probably never heard of.
Helped by the film receiving full cooperation from FIFA – which blesses it with a number of cameos from the game’s biggest stars – Danny Cannon’s optimistic feel-good tale follows a young footballer’s dream of becoming a pro. Kuno Becker plays Santiago Muñez, an extremely talented player who is scouted by English side Newcastle United and invited to Britain to try out for a place in the team. Goal – which was named Goal! The Dream Begins in North America – sees both his game and personality clash with his new surroundings on and off the field.
Very different from most soccer-based movies, Cass is a hard-hitting film that looks at the tragedy of football hooliganism and violence once so closely associated with the game. Based on the true story of Cass Pennant, this sports-themed crime-thriller boasts a terrific performance from lead Nonso Anozie, whose youth was flooded with violence growing up in a British society in cultural flux. Director Jon. S. Baird weaves us through an enthralling character study that sees its protagonist go to the darkest depths before seeking redemption and peace. It’s not your typical soccer movie but shares similarities with other character-centric sports films such as Rocky.
Stephen Chow’s fast-paced and stylish film marries martial arts with soccer to create a unique and exciting mix. The agility of kung fu artists with the movement and energy of soccer players is one of the reasons why Shaolin Soccer is an unforgettable experience. The film, which was released in 2001, shows how sport – particularly soccer – can be moulded into different narratives for entertainment – be it a rags to riches story of a single player (Goal), a prison escape movie (Escape To Victory), a coming of age drama (Bend It Like Beckham) or in this case a comedy kung fu movie. Similarly, Softonic.com reveals that FIFA and PES Football Manager have become some of the most popular video games while soccer has found itself inspiring everything from best-selling pop music (“Three Lions”) to slots games like Football: Champions Cup. It seems that there’s no stopping the popularity of soccer.
The Damned United
Ranked as the third best football movie ever made by Top10Films.co.uk, The Damned United is a film about a football manager. Based on the true story of Brian Clough’s ill-fated 44 days in charge of West Yorkshire team, Leeds United, this funny and tragic comedy-drama features a terrific performance from Michael Sheen and captures the atmosphere of a dressing room that doesn’t believe in its head coach. One of the film’s greatest attributes is how it realises the time period with an authenticity that immerses us this story of egos, rivalry and, unique to the sports genre, failure.
“Brøndby stadium panorama” (CC BY 2.0) by Stig Nygaard
So there you have it, four soccer-themed movies you’ve probably never heard of but now must seek out and discover for the first time. If you’re a fan of sports in general and especially movies about soccer teams, this selection will offer hours of entertainment.