Ranking the 10 best football movies of all-time

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As the most popular sport in the world, it’s no surprise that an abundance of football films have been made.

Not every one has been a roaring success. Ever seen Kicking and Screaming? If you haven’t, don’t.

But a good football film - one that conveys why the beautiful game means so much to billions around the world - makes for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

We’re simply looking at movies for the purpose of this article.

But there are a number of documentaries that are well worth a watch, such as The Two Escobars or Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait.

And the Sunderland ’Til I Die Netflix series and Amazon’s All or Nothing both offer a riveting behind-the-scenes look into a football club during a season.

These docu-series give fans incredible access into the training ground and dressing room.

However, sometimes all that we want is a scripted drama that often breaks the boundaries about realism.

If you’re looking for a good football film to watch, check out any of the 10 below.

GIVEMESPORT’s top 10 football movies

10. Green Street (2005)

Okay, we know we said the ‘best’ football movies. But Green Street had to be included.

A Harvard student wrongly expelled for cocaine possession who goes to London and suddenly finds himself in West Ham’s firm.

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And that Harvard student is Elijah Wood. Yes, Frodo Baggins is a football hooligan. What’s not to enjoy about that?

The plot is far-fetched and some of the accents are awful, but Green Street is something of a guilty pleasure.

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

Every youngster dreams of being scouted for his beloved club and that’s the case for Manchester City fan Jimmy Grimble.

Jimmy’s dream of playing at City’s stadium comes true after he is given a pair of magical boots that once belonged to one of City’s greatest players.

Everything changes for Jimmy from that point on. He’s no longer the nervous kid who has a hard time with bullies and struggles to speak to his crush, instead turning into a star on the pitch.

But was it really the boots, or did he have it all along?

8. Mean Machine (2001)

Vinnie Jones plays the disgraced ex-England captain Danny Meehan, who was banned from football for match-fixing.

An assault on two police officers lands Danny in jail but his celebrity status causes him to struggle inside. He’s beaten by the prison guards and reminded of his disappointments by fellow prisoners.

An opportunity to coach the inmates in a football game against the guards affords Danny the opportunity to seek redemption in this remake of American football flick The Longest Yard.

7. Mike Bassett: England Manager (2001)

This satirical comedy is a cult classic.

England are in need of a new manager and, after many qualified coaches wisely turn it down, it falls to Mike Bassett, a scruffy loud-mouth whose list of achievements is scarce.

Bassett’s spell in charge goes from one disaster to the next.

He calls up two midfielders called Benson and Hedges - after the team list is written on the back of a cigarette packet. His star player gets romantically involved with a Brazilian transexual.

But, despite Bassett’s ineptitude. England manager to reach the World Cup finals. They can’t actually win it, can they?

6. Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Jess Bhamra and Jules Paxton just want to play football.

Both have to face parents who don’t want them to play, though, despite their talents.

But their love for the beautiful game proves to be too much.

5. Shaolin Soccer (2001)

What more could you want from a film than ridiculously exaggerated martial arts and football?

Shaolin Soccer is wild. A young Shaolin monk reunites with his brothers, all of whom have superhuman martial arts skills, to create a football team.

Matches are jam-packed with stunning acrobatics and a crazy number of flying kicks. CGI played just a little part in the making of the film.

You’ll never be bored while watching this classic.

4. Goal! The Dream Begins (2005)

The second and third Goal! films were pretty disappointing but the first, the one that kicked off the trilogy, definitely wasn’t.

We’re introduced to Santiago Munez, a Mexican immigrant living in Los Angeles who dreams of fulfilling his talents as a professional footballer.

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Santiago earns a trial at Newcastle United and, well, we hope you know the rest about this rags to riches tale.

The film made $27.6 million at the box office.

3. The Football Factory (2004)

Hooligans. Petty theft. Cocaine abuse.

The Football Factory shone the light on the darker side of football.

Danny Dyer plays Tommy Johnson, a member of the Chelsea hooligan firm.

An encounter with Tamer Hassan, head of Millwall’s firm, leaves Tommy’s life and head scrambled.

With Chelsea and Millwall set to face each other in the cup, a pitched battle between the two firms is the only way to settle things.

2. Escape To Victory (1981)

Escape To Victory stars Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, Pele and Bobby Moore.

The film is set in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp, where the British POWs play an exhibition match against the guards.

Trailing 4-1, the British POWs need the help of Pele and most of the Ipswich Town team to turn the game around.

But who would have thought that Stallone would be the hero?

1. The Damned United (2009)

Michael Sheen’s take on the legendary Brian Clough is compelling.

The Damned United is the story of Clough’s 44-day reign in charge of Leeds United.

Clough’s abrasive approach didn’t sit well in the Elland Road locker room. He was already an unpopular figure with the players and the fans, and his new methods led to his premature sacking.

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Dave Mackay sued the producers of the film, citing an inaccurate portrayal of himself.

But Sheen does an impressive job of bringing Clough’s characteristics - including his temper and insecurities - to the big screen.

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