Ten recommended soccer movies to watch over the holidays

While there is still going to be a lot of soccer played on Boxing Day and throughout the holiday season, chances are that you are going to have to time off of work and need to fill your time with something soccer related, especially on days where there isn’t any soccer. We’re here to help in giving you some soccer movie recommendations to pass the time over the next week or so. From romantic comedies to thrilling and poignant documentaries to gripping dramas, there is something for everyone in this list of ten movies that we recommend, which is in no particular order. Many of these movies are available to stream on Netflix as well as on YouTube (for the time being) or other carrier. And don’t worry, United Passions isn’t on this list.


Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos

There was a time where the United States could have made an argument to being the center of the soccer world. In the 1970’s, Warner Communications (now Time Warner) founder Steve Ross and others had a dream to begin a professional soccer revolution in a country where 99% of the population had never heard of the sport. Forming the New York Cosmos in the NASL in 1971, Ross wanted to make an impact into the NYC market that was dominated by guys like Namath, Jackson and Frazier. Enter legends such as Pele, Giorgio Chinaglia, Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and people on other NASL teams like George Best, Johann Cruyff and Rodney Marsh, the National Indoor Soccer League, led by the Cosmos, put soccer on the map in the United States, capping off in the Cosmos selling out Giants Stadium in 1978.

But after growing too fast and too soon, the NASL and the original incarnation of the Cosmos ended almost as quickly as it exploded. American soccer would once again live in obscurity until recent years. This film will leave you amazed at the circumstances that led to this “lightning in a bottle” opportunity and wonder what might have been if everything could have kept going.

Available for streaming on Netflix



Nominated for an Emmy Award for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking, you will feel just about every emotion while watching this movie. Chronicling the events of the Hillsborough Disaster that killed 96 Liverpool fans in 1989, this documentary details the events before and during that contributed to the disaster and the subsequent cover up by police afterwards. As the grieving families fought for justice, the police, the government, the media and the public felt they needed to move on. After 26 years, progress has only begun over the past few years and those who are a part of the Hillsborough Families Support Group are still fighting for justice. Regardless, they still believe to this day that they will find justice for their loved ones and make sure they never walk alone.

Available for streaming on Netflix

ESPN’s 30 for 30 Soccer Stories series

The Soccer Stories series was a collection of documentaries by ESPN to celebrate the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Hillsborough was also a part of this series but it was worth a separate entry. Six documentaries are 30 minutes long and one is full length and they range from the celebratory (Diego Maradona’s 1986 World Cup) to the mysterious (case of the missing original Jules Rimet trophy), to the sad (Moacir Barbosa being blamed for losing the 1950 World Cup in his native Brazil) to the tragic (terrorist attack on Irish fans watching their country beat Italy in the 1994 World Cup). In addition to stories about Chile having to play a World Cup Qualifier at a concentration camp to chronicling the life of Mane Garrincha who went from not being able to walk to winning two World Cup’s for Brazil to players Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa being forced to make the difficult decision to sacrifice their career for their country as they returned from England to Argentina as Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, these are some great, highly well done stories that are not well known to many even within the soccer world.

Available for streaming on Netflix


The Class of ’92

Maybe one of the greatest collections of young talent in soccer history, Manchester United players David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes, along with the genius of Sir Alex Ferguson, sparked an era that would forever change Manchester United and English soccer. These players stuck together all throughout the 1990’s and amid a rapidly changing culture in England, Manchester United and these players completed their greatest achievement, winning the treble in 1999. Even though the six haven’t played together in over a decade, the friendship between the six remains to this day and shows in the film.

Available for streaming on Netflix


The ’99ers

Similar to The Class of ’92, The ’99ers tells the tale of the legendary 1999 U.S. Women’s National Team, told by the players who played in and won the 1999 Women’s World Cup with home video from that World Cup taken by Julie Foudy. Produced by Foudy, if you watched the USWNT win the 2015 Women’s World Cup but maybe didn’t watch it in 1999, relive that triumph that sparked the revolution of women’s soccer players today. Let Foudy, Michelle Akers, Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Carla Overbeck and Briana Scurry take you through that magical 1999 campaign as they head back to where they triumphed, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.


Kicking It

Narrated by Colin Farrell, Kicking It follows people on various teams going through the Homeless World Cup, a 4v4 tournament held every year since 2003. The documentary followed people from various nations as they battle homelessness in their respective nations and play soccer as a way of escape from their troubles. While many of us only see soccer as a game, to many of these people, soccer is a way of life. And to some, depending on their situation, soccer can mean the difference between life and death.

Available for streaming on Netflix


The Damned United

Starring Michael Sheen, The Damned United tells the story of one of the greatest managers ever Brian Clough going through one of the darkest times as a manager, his 44 day nightmare at defending champ Leeds United back in 1974. The film goes back and forth between Leeds and his days starting out managing Derby County, as Clough and assistant Peter Taylor brought up Derby from the lower leagues to the First Division title in 1972 and planted the seeds of his hatred for then Leeds manager Don Revie. When Clough was inspired to take over Leeds, after Revie took the England manager job, and make sure everyone forgot what Revie did for the team, a mix of Clough’s hatred for Revie and his own ego made a possible winning combination a disaster and reminded us that the best manager paired with the best team doesn’t necessarily guarantee success.


The Two Escobars

A sad and tragic tale of the unseedy nature of soccer when it is connected with politics, drugs and greed. This is the tale of two men named Escobar and how their lives and their deaths connected even though they never met. Pablo Escobar was the worldwide leading drug kingpin from Colombia and due to his money and power, transformed the Colombian National Team into one of the best international soccer teams in the world. Andres Escobar was a defender for Colombia and one of the best players they had at that time.

In the 1994 World Cup against the United States, Escobar scored an own goal, trying to clear John Harkes’ cross and effectively ended Colombia’s hope of winning the World Cup. What looked like ecstasy to US fans meant the beginning of the end for Andres. About a week later, Andres was killed in Colombia by members of Pablo’s cartel (who himself was killed six months before the 1994 World Cup) because they had lost millions in betting on the team.

Available for streaming on Netflix


Fever Pitch

No, I’m not talking about the crappy Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore version. I’m talking about the soccer version, the good version. A great romantic comedy chronicling a couple as they fall in love at the same time as the main character, Paul’s (played by Colin Firth) favorite team Arsenal, is on their way to winning the First Division title in 1989. The events coincide as Arsenal wins the title at the end of the season by beating Liverpool in a must win on the final day in what was essentially a championship final. This is a great story to curl up with your significant other and great for if you want to relive the days of Arsenal playing in legendary Highbury.


Next Goal Wins

If you want to know why teams like San Marino, Gibraltar, American Samoa and others go through with World Cup Qualification, even though they know they are getting nowhere near qualifying, watch this movie. This documentary follows American Samoa as they try to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Led by former USMNT youth coach Thomas Rongen, he had the task to turn around a team who just ten years before, got beaten 31-0 by Australia, still an international record. While the team didn’t come close to qualifying, they still achieved more than they ever did, winning their first ever World Cup Qualifying game against Tonga. A very “Rocky” like story, this is a great documentary where playing for pride and your country, knowing you are very likely going to horribly lose, is much more important than the final score.

Available for streaming on Netflix

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter @phillipbupp