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Top Five English Football Movies of All Time

Association football is the most popular sport in the world, so in a way, it’s rather strange that its crossover with the movie industry has resulted in mostly disappointment.

There is something about the way that football gameplay is portrayed in movies that just doesn’t look or feel right, and that’s why the very best films about the sport feature very little, if any, on-the-pitch action.

It is difficult to convey the theatrical brilliance of football through cinema because matches do a good enough job of that themselves, but there are some movies that tell extraordinary stories of what transpires in and around ‘the beautiful game’.


5) United

This BBC film is based on the events around Manchester United in the 1950s, and specifically the ‘Busby Babes’ and the Munich Air Disaster. David Tennant is outstanding as the team’s assistant manager, Jimmy Murphy, and Jack O’Connell excels as Bobby Charlton, who would go on to become one of the club’s all-time greats.

As is the case with all of the best football movies, you don’t need to be a fan of the sport to enjoy this. It is a heartbreaking story, but also uplifting as Man United battled to overcome their darkest hour.


4) Bend It Like Beckham

While Bend It Like Beckham is, on the face of it, a comedy sports film, its cultural relevance goes way beyond that.

The movie is about a Sikh teenage girl who loves football and joins a local team despite her parents attempting to convince her otherwise. There is a lot to be said about how this film tackles sexism and racism, and feel-good moments are aplenty throughout.

It was a huge box office success – perhaps surprisingly so at the time.


3) The Football Factory

Sadly, English football has been associated with hooliganism at various points within history – particularly in the 1980s.

During the 2000s, various movies were released around the topic, and The Football Factory, featuring Danny Dyer, is the pick of the bunch.

As you would expect, there is plenty of drink, drugs, and violence, but that’s why people loved it. But at the same time, it is a poignant reminder of the side of football that is not looked upon with fondness.


2) Fever Pitch

Based on the Nick Hornby book published in 1992, Fever Pitch is about a teacher who is an Arsenal fanatic and in the fictionalised movie, it focuses on the Gunners’ title-winning season of 1988-89.

The main character, Paul Ashworth, is played by Colin Firth, and throughout the movie is torn between his love for Arsenal and a new romance with a fellow teacher.

A remake was created in America and replaced football with baseball, but of course, the original is better.

Firth is among the outsiders at 100/1 to be the next James Bond as per some of the best football betting sites in the UK.


1) The Damned United

Everybody’s favourite football movie is the 2009 drama based on Brian Clough’s tenure at Leeds United in 1974.

Clough is one of the most unique and legendary characters in the history of the game, and Michael Sheen’s performance undoubtedly does him justice in every department.

Again, football fandom is not a prerequisite for viewers, as there is enough within the movie’s political elements and complex personalities and relationships


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