OTB’s Top 10 Football Films: Last Minute Winners Galore

May 8, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Features

basset300Despite our wildly unrealistic expectations, the sad truth is that since England’s World Cup victory in 1966 the best our national side has managed is one bravely heroic semi-final penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of the relentless Germans.

However, as a mildly narcissistic population of football fans, many of us won’t be able to resist the temptation to go through that hell again when One Night In Turin is released this weekend. Here is OTB’s definitive top ten of football cinema…

10. Mike Basset: England Manager (2001)

With the questionable tagline ‘He knows F.A about football,’ we bring you to a bit of a ridiculous comedy entry now, which sees Norwich City manager Mike Bassett (played by Ricky Tomlinson) promoted to England boss ahead of the World Cup in Brazil. After sacking his star player and promoting a car salesman as his assistant, England suffer huge losses to Poland and Belgium. With the typical fickle ups and downs that comes with the English press and any England football campaign – Bassett manages to get our lads to the semi-final of the World Cup. Absurd, but we like it.

9. Shaolin Soccer (2001)

A bit of a rogue selection for number 9 sees this crazy kung-fu videogame-come-football film enter our chart. A 2001 Hong Kong comedy film co-written and directed by Stephen Chow, this flick depicts the tale of a former Shoalin monk reuniting with his five brothers. Cue: plenty of over the top martial arts and bad special effects combined with football. Oh, and not to mention all the pretty Chinese girls. Terribly enjoyable, action-packed stuff.

8. Goal! (2005)

A 90-minute rags to riches football story featuring cameos from David Beckham, Alan Shearer, Zinedine Zidane, Steven Gerrard and…Kieron Dyer. Shot in Newcastle we watch Santiago attempt to propel himself into the heavens of professional football. It may be one big advert for Adidas, but it’s pure football joy.

7. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

A story with a bit of a difference, Bend It Like Beckham sees an Asian girl defy her parents and peers to become a quality footballer. It might not be the traditional boy-turned-star narrative arc we would want, but hey, you can’t argue with Keira Knightley. Not only is their some spicy women, but there’s an excellent story with genuine moments of humour and authentic relationships we can identify with. Bend It Like beckham has all the ups and downs of a derby weekend.

6. Goal! World Cup 1966 (1998)

Seen as some as the finest football documentary ever made, this is certainly something One Night in Turin will have derived inspiration from. This is a classic account of the 1966 World Cup as we follow all 15 nations as they compete for the greatest prize in football. Written by Brian Glanville, who also provides the commentary, it’s a compelling account of one of the greatest World Cups ever.

5. There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble (2000)

Crashing down to earth in terms of location and sporting names, what this film lacks in football profile, it makes up for in plot, narrative and character. A far cry from Zidane and Leeds United, we watch one Oldham boy’s dream to play for Manchester City as he battles with personal relationships and bullies. Starring Robert Carlisle and Ray Winstone this is a light-hearted football comedy for any bloke who still secretly harbours a dream of bagging a goal professionally. So, all of us then.

4. The Damned United (2009)

A 2009 drama based on David Peace’s best-selling book, we get a riveting interpretation of Brian Clough’s tenure at Leeds United. Centring on the unforgettable character of Brian Clough, we follow the abrasive, explosive manager as he seeks to overhaul the best team in England along with their playing style. We get an in-depth look at his earlier career aswell.

3. Once In A Lifetime (2006)

Much in the same vein as One Night In Turin, we have an in-depth documentary charting the success of the Galacticos/Globe Trotters-esque football team New York Cosmos. We are treated to narration by Matt Dillon and interviews with many of the team’s legendary star players, with plenty of classic archive footage from the 70s and 80s. If that doesn’t take your fancy, the music will – the likes of The Jam, Primal Scream, Velvet Revolver and David Holmes provide the tunes.

2. Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006)

It’s been called pointless, and seen as pretentious tripe – but this is a no frills, straight fix of the most succulent football on the market. A documentary in the truest form, it has absolutely no plot and is a celebration of something in its simplest state. Shot in real-time during a league game between Real Madrid and Villareal in 2005, we get the full spectrum of Zidane’s game – passing, the pirouettes and the red cards. This is the beautiful game at its best.

1. Escape To Victory (1981)

Allied POWs are trapped inside a German prison camp in WWII, and, under the supervision of Michael Caine, play an exhibition match against the Germans. If that isn’t enough to top your own football film list – you’ve got Sylvester Stallone, Bobby Moore, Osvaldo Ardiles and Pelé onscreen to help change your mind. True to any football flick – the acting ain’t great, and the plot is airy, but anything with an all-star football match, getting one over on the Germans, is No. 1 in our book. All star cast and great footballing action – a deserved top dog.

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