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Whether it’s an exclusive interview or a fly-on-the-wall series following your beloved club, we all like to feel that little bit closer to the beautiful game.
With Amazon and Netflix getting in on the act — as well as a host of brilliant content creators on YouTube – there has never been a better time to immerse yourself in football, from red-hot derby atmospheres to the tales of flawed heroes who reached the top of their profession.
So, without further ado, here at the top 10 football documentaries you should be checking out right now.
10. Once In A Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos
“Soccer” has an incredibly tumultuous, yet surprisingly rich history in the United States, going all the way back as far as 1862. In fact, the US Open Cup, first held in 1914, is one of the oldest sporting competitions still active in the United States.
The founding of Major League Soccer has done much to stabilise the sport Stateside after the disaster of the NASL but one club which still captures the imagination – and indeed still exists in the lower leagues — is the New York Cosmos. Watch their unique journey from no-hopers to the team that brought the greatest player of all time to the United States in their incredible “Once In A Lifetime” documentary.
9. The Summer Football Came Home: England Euro 96
Euro 96 is a bittersweet memory for England fans, with the nostalgia and excitement of hosting a tournament and reaching the semi-final marinaded with a real sense of regret of what could have been in that defeat to Germany. If only Gazza had been an inch taller.
If you want to put yourself through the mill again, or genuinely just enjoy what was an incredible month of footballing joy, this is definitely up your street.
8. Keane & Vieira: Best of Enemies
Manchester United vs Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson vs Arsene Wenger, Roy Keane vs Patrick Vieira. No rivalry has caught the imagination or brought as much drama in the Premier League era like this one, pretty much defining the first decade or so of the competition
Head over to Amazon Prime to watch the two generals on the frontline of this war, Keane and Vieira, come face-to-face to honestly and humorously discuss everything this great fixture meant to them, as well as just what was going through their heads every time they squared up to one another.
7. Graham Taylor: An Impossible Job
Described by the Daily Express as a “fascinating mix of black comedy and personal tragedy”, Channel 4’s fly-on-the-wall documentary covering the late Graham Taylor’s time as England manager is a real work of art.
Taylor was an incredibly absorbing character and one of the genuinely nicest men the game has ever seen, but it wasn’t all FA Cup finals with Watford, you know.
As you’ll see here, the England job can push even the best to the brink.
6. All Or Nothing: Manchester City (2018)
Okay, admittedly, Amazon’s attempts at bringing us the inside view of football can often come off as far too polished and commercialised, and that’s no different in the case of their “All or Nothing” series covering Manchester City.
That said, you can’t help but be awestruck at the futuristic set-up the Citizens now have at their disposal, aiding the recruitment and development of the world’s best talent, as well as the ruthless delivery of silverware.
And, of course, there’s also the kit man sliding around the changing rooms in nothing but his delicates. Either way, despite its rose-tinted view of the club, this documentary is still worth your time.
5. Take the Ball, Pass the Ball
Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona rightly go down as one of the greatest teams ever assembled and at the very least, they’re seen as the side which redefined how the world plays the game, showing us all the power of possession with their “Tiki-Taka” approach.
Based on the book “Barça: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World” by Spanish football expert, Graham Hunter, “Take the Ball, Pass the Ball” shows just how the Blaugrana dominated the game both continentally and domestically. From Messi’s mesmeric brilliance to Xavi demonstrating his Jedi-like calm in midfield, with just a sprinkle of Jose Mourinho madness, purists of the game will love this.
4. Diego Maradona
Has there ever been a more flawed genius than Diego Maradona? Accused of being too short, overweight and not committed enough, the Argentine ace went on to have one of the most remarkable careers the game has ever seen and is rightly held aloft with Pele, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the greatest of all time. Just don’t say that to any staunch England fans.
Thanks to HBO, we can take a closer look at not just Maradona’s career, but the man behind the on-the-field persona. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll feature heavily as we see the unabashed story of Argentina’s biggest icon.
3. Copa90: This Is Football
You could go as far to say Copa90 have changed the landscape of football storytelling, getting up-close and personal with fans, ultras and club legends alike in search of the most compelling and often controversial tales the beautiful game has to offer.
Their “This Is Football” series is a particularly mesmerising watch as it delves deep into the lifeblood of a football club. What is it that makes Liverpool so formidable at Anfield? What about Athletic Bilbao’s unique “cantera” policy of only bringing through local players?
Copa90 will reveal the foundations that football culture is built upon in their quickfire, easy-to-digest range of videos.
2. Sunderland ‘Til I Die
Given Amazon’s efforts at getting close to a football club, you’d expect Netflix to respond with something similar, too. However, their “Sunderland ‘Til I Die” documentary is arguably one of the best ever made in the world of football.
You’re not going to get glitz and glamour and if you think there’s a happy ending, well, you’re clearly not familiar with Sunderland Football Club. However, what you will get is the emotion and heartbreak of fans pushed to the limit week in, week out, and the internal struggles which naturally come with trying to run, manage or work at a football club plummeting down the leagues.
1. Copa90: Derby Days
Two in the top three shows just how amazing the work is that’s being done at Copa90 right now, and taking the number one spot is their “Derby Days” series.
Sure, the big derbies, such as El Clasico or the Milan derby, are all covered as expected. However, what makes this series so unique is how Copa90 traverse the globe to bring you the rivalries you either didn’t know existed, or always wanted to learn more about.
From Argentina’s Superclasico between Boca Juniors and River Plate to the uniquely intense relationship between Red Star and Partizan Belgrade, and even the ever-growing rivalry between Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders in MLS, Copa90 brilliantly tells the story of football through the eyes of the fans, flares, fights ‘n all.