Soccer is the most popular sport on the planet, and is loved by countless fans throughout the world for its pageantry, sporting rivalries, and displays of athleticism that have made its players some of the wealthiest sports people around.
As such, there is a lot for fans to sink their teeth into – including merchandise, clothing, and even documentaries, the latter of which provides fans with great insights into their favorite teams and sporting heroes.
But what exactly are the best soccer documentaries, and how do they differ?
Although there have been many soccer documentaries released over the years, there are some that really stand out from the crowd, and as such are a must for soccer fans everywhere.
Many of these documentaries have a general appeal, focusing on the human stories behind this polarizing sport, and the struggles that come with playing the sport at the highest level.
1. Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In
Focused on the former Manchester United Football Club manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Never Give In looks at the 40 year career of the soccer legend, highlighting some of the biggest stories, and sporting achievements that he oversaw during his time with the team.
As the manager who attained the most trophies during his career, Never Give In is an inspirational documentary, appealing to soccer fans and sports fans alike – highlighting a living legend who has overseen many changes in the world of professional soccer.
2. Diego Maradona
This documentary offers fans a very intimate glimpse into the life of the late Diego Amando Maradona – the Argentine soccer player and captain, best known for the now infamous ‘Hand of God’ handball incident during the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter finals between Argentina and England (to find out more about Maradona, read here).
However, the documentary shows that Maradona was far more than one incident, documenting his move to Naples for a world-record breaking fee, and his transformation into a Napoli legend in his own right.
Brazilian soccer legend Pele – real name Edson Arantes do Nascimento – is one of the most famous soccer players on the planet, and one that has experienced many highs and lows throughout his long career in the sport.
This documentary takes a heartwarming look at some of those moments, showing his journey from starting out in the early days of his career, to some of the highest moments of his sporting career.
This really is the story of a man from humble beginnings turning himself into the sporting phenomenon that he is today, and it certainly makes for interesting viewing – whether you are a soccer fan or not.
4. Shame In The Game: Racism In Football
Of course, not every aspect of the ‘beautiful game’ could be described as such. Shame In The Game takes a look at one of the worst aspects of the sport – the undertones of racism, violence, and discrimination that have marred the sport across the United Kingdom and Europe.
The documentary has some harrowing moments, and casts a shameful light on this negative aspect of the sport – showing how the ghost of past racial violence continues to cast a shadow over the entire ecosystem of modern soccer.
5. Bobby Robson: More Than A Manager
This has to be one of the best soccer documentaries ever produced, and focuses on the inspiring life of football manager Sir Bobby Robson.
Starting in 1996, and following his diagnosis with cancer, the doc shows Robson being warned by his physician, telling him to retire from the sport and focus on his health.
However, 9 months later, Robson was still moving forward, and became the manager for FC Barcelona, marking the start of one of the team’s most prosperous periods.
Whether you are a die hard soccer fan, or someone new to the sport, this documentary is one of the best ways to become inspired and fired up about this popular pastime.
6. Welcome To Wrexham
Created by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia), Welcome To Wrexham shows their transition from fair weather fans to co-owners of Wrexham Association Football Club (WAFC), and the journey they went on.
The documentary series takes a humorous and heartwarming approach to the community appeal of soccer, and showcases the unique and welcoming individuals in the former mining community of Wrexham, Wales.
This has more general appeal than the other documentaries on this list, and the humor and camaraderie between Reynolds and McElhenney – two self confessed fishes out of water – make this a great watch for soccer fans and newbies alike.
7. The Two Escobars
Those with a grasp of general knowledge might be familiar with the name Pablo Escobar, but they might be less aware of soccer player Andres Escobar – a much missed soccer legend who was inexplicably connected to the infamous drug baron.
This documentary focuses on the mysterious death of the soccer great, and how the darker side of his native Colombia might have played a role in proceedings.
This is great for fans of soccer, as well as those who enjoy a good, slow burning mystery – and very much highlights the crossover appeal that has led to soccer players being cultural celebrity (see also: Best Soccer Celebrations)figures recognized all over the world.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about the best soccer documentaries, and which ones are most revered by fans of the sport.
It’s true that soccer is a widely popular sport, and it is not hard to see why.
With high end athleticism, excitement, and an immersive fan experience, it is easy to see why any sports fan would want to watch this centuries old game in all its glory.
So if you are a soccer fan, or you want to learn more about the sport that is beloved by so many, then why not check out some of these documentaries?
Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!