Treat Your World Cup Fever With Soccer Films

An issue of Al Dia somehow ended up on the front lawn Saturday, which turned out to be fortuitous as it included a great feature titled “Goles de pelicula, ” which, from what I can tell, means something like “Movie Goals” (sorry, my Spanish is embarrassing). The piece recommends a large variety of football, er, soccer related films. I tried to find the piece online, but I can’t seem to locate it. So, after the jump, Al Dia’s recommended soccer flicks with some of my notes and comments for you soccer-obsessed readers out there. You’re welcome.

Update: Al Dia has uploaded their original story, and you can find it here.

First off, one film that I was surprised not to see on Al Dia’s list: Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006), the meditative, mesmerizing, and strikingly beautiful portrait of Zizou that blends cinema and video art as well as a fantastic soundtrack by Scottish band Mogwai to track every move made by the French-Algerian great during a Real Madrid match late in his career.

European Classics

The Damned United (Tom Hooper, 2010) – Historical drama about Brian Clough’s run as the Leeds United manager. Missed this one last year, but it is now out on DVD.

Victory (John Huston, 1981) – Seriously? Michael Cain, Sylvester Stallone, and Pelé in a movie together? Can’t believe I haven’t seen this.

Sixty Six (Paul Weiland, 2006) – A twelve year-old’s Jewish/English boy’s Bar Mitzvah coincides with the World Cup final in 1966, you know, back when England could win at this sport.

Bend it Like Beckham (Gurinder Chadha 2002) – Internationalized the phrase. A Beckham-obsessed young girl in a strict South Asian family in England sneaks off to realize her soccer dreams. Cute family drama

Wim Wender's "The Goalkeeper's Anxiety At the Penalty Kick"

The Goalkeepers Anxiety Before the Penalty Kick (Wim Wenders, 1977) – Adapted from frequent Wenders collaborator Peter Handke’s play by the same name. If you haven’t seen it – do. This is back when all of Wenders’ movies were great, though soccer features less than murder and existential angst.

Mexican Classics

El Futbolista fenomeno (Fernando Cortes, 1979)

El Chanfle (Enrique Segoviano, 1979) – Follows the escapades of a Club America fanatic and employee and his wife who turn to a life of crime. According to Al Dia, it is one of the major blockbusters in Mexican cinema.

Atletico San Pancho (Gustavo Loza, 2001) – Also called Never Too Young to Dream, the film tells the story of a group of young kids from the small town of San Francisco del Monte, who form a team and have unexpected success.

Carlos Cuarón's Rudo y Cursi

Rudo y cursi (Carlos Cuaron, 2008) – This screened at the 2009 AFI Dallas Film Festival, it follows two brothers who unexpectedly end up as the goalies on two rival soccer teams.

Spanish Films

El Portero (Gonzalo Suarez, 2000) – A former great Spanish goalkeeper gets roped into a small town drama during the Spanish Civil War.

El penalty mas largo del mundo (Roberto Santiago, 2005) – A backup goalkeeper must defend a penalty kick in an important regional game, only the referee postpones the match, and he has to anticipate the shot for an entire week.

Dias de futbol (David Serrano, 2003) – Comedy about soccer playing friends.

Matias, juez de lina (Santiago Aguilar, 1996) – A Spanish referee makes a call against his country, costing them World Cup qualification.

Inspirational Films

The Cup (Khyentse Norbu, 1999) – Two Tibetan refugees arrive at a monastery and try to find a TV to watch the World Cup final.

Jafar Panahi's "Offside"

Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006) – A group of Iranian girls who dress as boys to sneak into an important soccer match.

Golpe de estadio (Sergio Cabrera, 1998) – Colombian film that packs political and social satire in a comedy surrounding soccer.

Looking for Eric (Ken Loach, 2009) – This film was almost released at the Magnolia a month ago, but has been pushed back indefinitely. Rather goofy affair for Loach, but its quirks charm. A bullied postman hallucinates conversations with his idle, Manchester United and French great-turned actor Eric Cantona. Cantona is hilarious in the film that shifts genres throughout, from family drama, to mobster thriller, to comic spoof.

Se Juega Come Se Vive

Shaolin soccer (Stephen Chow, 2001) – Hong Kong film about young kids who apply their martial arts skills to excelling at soccer.

Fever Pitch (David Evans, 1997) – Romantic comedy based on Nick Hornby’s (High Fidelity, About a Boy) autobiographical novel.

Mean Machine (Barry Skolknik, 2001) – An English soccer star ends up in prison.

The Game of Our Lives (David Anspaugh, 2005) – Retelling of the USA’s victory of England in 1950.

Goal! (2005-2009, various directors) – Al Dia calls it “The Rocky for soccer.”


Maradona By Kusturica

Maradona by Kusturica (Emir Kusturica, 2008) – Recent documentary about one of the greatest, most controversial, and tragic personalities in the history of the game. A great compliment to Argentina’s current run to the final.

La gran final (Gerardo Olivares, 2006) – Docu-comedy about the efforts of members of three tribes in Brazil, Niger, and Mongolia, to watch the World Cup final.

Kicking it (Susan Koch, Jeff Werner, 2008) – Follows six homeless people who head to South Africa to play in the homeless World Cup.

Main image at top from Looking for Eric, Ken Loach’s lighthearted movie about a soccer-obsessed postal worker, wonderfully played by Steve Evets (right), who overcomes local mobsters thanks to the heroic inspiration of his idol, the wonder-scorer Eric Cantona (left)


  • Jason Heid

    Two comments:

    “Sixty-Six” is a delightful little movie. It reminded me of the World War II homefront film “Hope and Glory,” even if the time period and cultural setting (though both are in England) are drastically different.

    Don’t bother with the English version of “Fever Pitch.” I love Nick Hornby’s work, but that movie with Colin Firth is drab. I much prefer the Americanized version by the Farrelly brothers, and not just because the central sport is changed from soccer to baseball. (Though that doesn’t hurt.)

  • Son of Dolemite

    You missed a couple:
    “Boys in Company C” — soccer woven into a Vietnam War film
    “The Big Green” — Disney movie, filmed in and around Austin

    By the way, “Victory” is worth a watch

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  • Zac Crain

    Jason: If you don’t like the English version of Fever Pitch then don’t recommend either one. The Jimmy Fallon/Red Sox version is awful (unless it’s, like, late Sunday afternoon and you don’t want to get out of bed).

    And yes, Son of Dolemite is right: Victory is worth a watch.

  • Peter,

    Thanks for mentioning our story in D magazine. For some technical issue it wasn’t uploaded by the system. But we did it ourselves this morning. This is the link to the original story:

    Just remember: “Rudo y cursi” is about a goalie and a striker who have a face-off on a penalty kick.
    And thanks for mentioning Zidane’s film, I have not seen it, but now I must.

    Juan F. Jaramillo

  • Thanks Juan – I’ve added the link. And I strongly recommend Zidane, though the experience is more like meditation than movie watching. It changed how I watch the game.