Goal! The Dream Begins (2005)
Tagline: Every dream has a beginning.
This movie sees Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) – an illegal alien living in Los Angeles – develop a real love and talent for football, despite his hardships. In fact, his talents are good enough to gain the attention of a scout, who gives him the opportunity to go to England and try out for Newcastle United – which he does, knowing that if he doesn't make it he will not be able to go back to the US.
Goal is a heart-warming story of one man's struggle to better his lot. The movie portrays a dream that millions of young lads have probably had, and was followed up with several sequels.
Green Street (2005)
Tagline: Stand your ground and fight.
This looks at football from the viewpoint of the fans or to be more precise, from that of football hooligans. It tells of an American undergraduate, Matt Bucker (Elijah Wood), who is unfairly expelled from Harvard and flees to his sister's home in England. Once there, he is befriended by her brother-in-law and introduced to the underworld of English football hooliganism.
Known in the American market as Green Street Hooligans, this movie is a powerful story telling of the Green Street Elite 'firm' operating at West Ham. The lead character gets dragged along and learns to fight and stand his ground for those who become his 'friends'. It’s a reasonably accurate portrayal of the hooligan culture that has blighted the English game.
The Game of their Lives (2005)
Tagline: The match against the British in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on June 19th, 1950 was 'the game of their lives'.
The tagline to this movie is not strictly true, since the game was against England alone. The movie tells the tale of the 1950 US football team who, against all odds, beat England 1-0 for the first time in their history. The story details the passions which shaped the lives of the players who made up the team.
The Game of their Lives is an exciting underdog movie and is motivational in that it's a true tale about a team of ordinary men who did something extraordinary.
There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble (2000)
Tagline: …and no substitute for life.
A fairytale story of Jimmy Grimble, a shy Manchester schoolboy who is constantly being bullied at school. However, through football and some special boots he finds, he manages to gain enough confidence to lead his school football team towards the final of the local schools cup.
This movie is good example of how believing in yourself can get you far. The boots that Jimmy finds have no real magical powers, but they give the character the confidence to believe in his own abilities. And as in many movies of this nature, the storyline shows football as an escape from the grim realities of life.
Mike Bassett: England Manager (2001)
Tagline: He knows F.A. about football.
Mike Bassett: England Manager follows the fictional search for a new England manager after the previous one succumbs to a heart attack. Most of the likely candidates have the good sense to turn it down, so in steps the loud-mouthed Mike Bassett (Ricky Tomlinson), who insists England will win the World Cup.
As you'd expect with Tomlinson (of The Royle Family fame), the film has it's comedic moments and is hugely watchable stuff. Just don’t expect it to be a true reflection of the professional game!
When Saturday Comes (1996)
Tagline: Jimmy’s life was just a game… until the game became his life.
The plot follows the struggle of Jimmy Muir (Sean Bean), a hard-drinking brewery worker who dreams of becoming a football star and playing for his beloved Sheffield United. He is spotted by a scout while playing for his local pub team and eventually gets the chance to fulfill his dream.
It's real 'Roy of the Rovers' comic book stuff which stretches the belief that a professional club would even consider taking on a 25-year-old footballer. What makes it even more unbelievable is that Bean (a genuine dyed-in-the-wool Blades fan) was in fact 37 when the movie was made.
Tagline: Now is the time for heroes.
The plot for Escape To Victory (or ‘Victory’ as it is also known) involves a soccer match between the Nazis and a team of Allied prisoners which was intended to raise morale in Germany. However, the POWs use the match as an opportunity to plot their escape.
Why Escape to Victory is inspirational: Even if the acting’s not up to much, the movie’s theme provides the inspiration. Real soccer legends – including Pelé, Osvaldo Ardiles and Bobby Moore star.
Fever Pitch (1997)
Tagline: Life gets complicated when you love one woman and worship eleven men.
Nick Hornby’s novel Fever Pitch made it to the big screen with the character Paul Ashworth (Colin Firth) trying to juggle his romance with his real passion in life: Arsenal FC. It’s set during the Gunners’ Championship-winning season of 1988-89, and follows the agony of being a true fan and being in a relationship at the same time.
Despite its connection with football, Fever Pitch is a romantic comedy. It manages to capture the nail-biting conclusion to that season when Arsenal clinched the title with virtually the last kick of the last game at Anfield (so it's perhaps not one for Liverpool fans).
Tagline: With the world at your feet, what is there left to tackle?
A movie telling the life story of the late George Best – one of the greatest footballers to have graced the game of football. It follows his life from Belfast lad to superstar living the champagne lifestyle. The movie features Best (John Lynch) looking back on his life when his mentor Matt Busby dies in the 1990s.
Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
Tagline: Who wants to cook Aloo Gobi when you can bend a ball like Beckham?
A comedy about girls bending the rules to reach their goal (if you’ll pardon the pun!). The movie explores the growing world of women’s football, and follows two 18-year-olds with their hearts set on a future in professional football. For one of the characters and her ultra-conservative Sikh family, talent enough doesn't seem to convince them of her prospects in the game.
You don’t have to be into football to enjoy this movie. It’s fully guaranteed to give you a feel-good factor and may even tempt a few girls out for a kick around in the local park.