High Goals on Big Screens

Shaolin Soccer

Though soccer is considered the most famous sport around the globe, it’s still not presented well in movies. American football stole the spotlight, and it’s either documentaries or comedy movies like “She’s The Man” or “Shaolin Soccer”. Only recently those studios really started to do some real soccer movies.

Recently, movies about soccer rarely managed to deliver why people are so into soccer, and it comes off as a less interesting version of a soccer match. It seems that the only good soccer movies are either made by the names of brand names like Zidane or Beckham, or big clubs like Real Madrid.

Commercials from fried chicken to shampoo

When we take a look at sports in general and its relation to cinema and movie making, we find that a lot of athletes turned into stars, movie stars or commercial stars; Sport was their way of getting even more fame. Wrestlers like The Rock who became known for his action roles, or football players like Lionel Messi or Christiano Ronaldo who are known for doing commercials for anything from fried chicken to shampoo. So it was only natural for these stars to go into cinema.

The question is did the cinema give soccer the movies they need? The opinions have been mixed when it comes to soccer movies, people either love it or hate. In movies like “She’s the Man” or “Bend it like Beckham” it focuses on female players and how they love to enjoy soccer as much as their male counterparts. In “Shaolin Soccer” soccer is mixed with Chinese martial arts to bring out a comedy movie that’s inspiring.

Mean Machine

Brazil, home country of legendary players

Also biographical movies are important in this sport like the upcoming “Pele” movie which would focus on the life of this legendary player. It also seems like Brazil, being the famous home country of most legendary players, is the inspiration for many soccer-related movies this year.

It only makes sense then to go through all notable soccer movies, old and new. The documentary film “Maradona” is one of those epic biographical movies, as it follows the legendary football player around Buenos Aries and even conducts an interview with him in a cabaret bar. One of the movie highlights is the marriage of two of the members of Maradona’s church in the middle of a soccer match. Another Hollywood-ish movie is “Escape to Victory” which stars Sylvester Stallone, Pele and Michael Caine, in a Nazi war camp. The plot follows the British soccer player Caine trying to organize a match inside prison which eventually turns into a stunt against the German authorities.

Another soccer movie set in prison is “Mean Machine” starring Vinnie Jones who plays a former England captain who’s haunted by the past until, due to some circumstances; he ends up in jail trying to coach his fellow prisoners. As for a movie like “The Damned United”, it’s a documentary movie about the legendary English manager Brian Clough and his days as a manager of Leeds United in 1974. Though the movie raised some harsh criticism, it was one of the best biographical soccer movies. What’s interesting is that it’s based on a book, written by David Pearce.

Also a fan club type of movies is “Fever Pitch” starring Colin Firth which focuses on the life of an Arsenal club fan. It’s actually based on a book by the same name written by Nick Hornby, which is a memoir of his obsession with Arsenal FC. Another legendary player who got his own documentary is Zinedine Zidane in his move “Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait”, though this movie is different from any other documentary. Zidane, in this movie, chooses just one match to sum up his life, which is his match against Villarreal in 2005.

Zidane A 21st Century Portrait

The trilogy

“The Goal!” trilogy is another American, or let’s says soccer, dream type of movies. The first movie which was made in cooperation with FIFA follows Santiago Munez, a Mexican immigrant living in Los Angeles and his dream of playing soccer. It starts with his chance of playing for Newcastle United, then his struggles which end up in success, as we see him in the next movie in the world cup. This trilogy proved that not only trilogies like “The Lord of the Rings” or “Hunger Games” could bring in audience, soccer can as well.

There’s another type of soccer related movies as well, which are the Hooligans movies. Hooliganism is pretty famous in movies, and soccer hooliganism is no exception. Movies like “The Firm” starring Gary Oldman as a man thirsty for violence, and he takes it all on football, to a movie like “The Football Factory” which is based on John King’s novel, which follows the life Danny Dyer who becomes a soccer thug.

Other similar movies are “Green Street” starring Elijah Wood as a soccer thug, trying to explain the English fascination with hooliganism, and “Cass” which is based on the true life story of Cass Pennant, orphan Jamaican adopted by a white couple, who later on becomes the leader of West Ham’s Intercity firm.

Soccer isn’t only celebrated in movies, songs, and shows. Commercials also celebrate these stars. People love soccer, and we can safely assume that it’s the most famous and loved sport in the world, but are these movies being fair to soccer, or are they plain? More soccer movies with new concepts, new visions, and fresh talents would definitely set the soccer movie mania on the right track.

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