Goal.com Weekend Special: Football Movies Worth Watching - Part I

This weekend Goal.com is running a Football Movies special and in this, the first of a two part series, Subhankar Mondal informs you about some of the best movies ever made on football.....

The movies are in no particular order.

1. Escape To Victory

Set against the backdrop of World War II, Escape To Victory revolves around Allied Prisoners of War in a German prison camp and their match against a German team. It focuses on the POWs playing against the Germans in an effort to win and 'escape to victory' and conjoins the theme of sports and war. This movie is said to have been inspired by Dynamo Kyiv players’ victory over German soldiers who had occupied Ukraine in World War II. Escape To Victory stars Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine and Max von Sydow with Pele, Bobby Moore and Osvaldo Ardiles all featuring in the movie.

2. When Saturday Comes

When Saturday Comes is a British film about a factory worker who gets to play professional football at the highest level. Jimmy Muir is a typical factory worker who drinks hard and lacks any kind of respect for authority. He always had the potential to play football at a professional level but never had the power to harness his talent into something constructive. But he is eventually scouted by unfashionable non-league club Hallam FC and subsequently gets a trial at Sheffield United FC.

When Saturday Comes is a brilliant movie that attempts to depict the story of a talented man who didn't have the necessary means to make it really big and although there are certain flaws in the movie, it is still quite a delightful watch.

3. In The Hands Of The Gods

In The Hands Of The Gods is a 2007 documentary that portrays the inspirational journey of five British freestyle footballers between the age of 17 and 22 years across the Americas to Argentina in search of a meeting with their idol Diego Armando Maradona. The story revolves around these five poor urban young boys who live off the streets by showing their skills and go out to meet their life-long inspiration Diego.

In The Hands Of The Gods is a fascinating tale of a bunch of poor but dreamy lads' self-discovery as they go out to realize their dreams. Interestingly, those in the States can actually catch this documentary at the Kicking & Screening International Soccer Film Festival arranged by Goal.com’s Greg Lalas from July 14 to July 18.

4. Offside

Offside is an Iranian film that centres on girls trying to watch a World Cup qualifying game, a very audacious act indeed given that women are forbidden from watching a football match at the stadium in the Asian nation. The movie starts with a girl disguising herself as a boy and going to attend the match between Iran and Bahrain. But she eventually gets caught and finds a few others like her. What follows is an earnest endeavour on the part of these girls to get a glimpse of the match from an almost impossible position.

Offside won accolades and a number of awards and is a brilliant depiction of fight against ruthless authority and laws.

5. Goal! The Dream Begins!

Santiago Munez enters the USA illegally from Mexico along with his family when he is a kid and grows up loving football and dreaming to be a football player. His father, though, is sternly against Munez following his dream and wants his son to help him in his business. Then an out-of-the-blue opportunity arrives when former Newcastle United player and scout Glen Foy notices Munez and eventually gets him a trial at the Premier League club. In spite of several difficulties and opposition from his father, Santi leaves America for England in an effort to realize his dream and play professionally in Europe.

Goal! The Dream Begins! is a movie made in conjunction with FIFA and is the first installment of the Goal trilogy, and is a modern take on rags-to-riches tale. Although Kuno Becker, who plays the role of the leading character Santi Munez, is not very elegant or graceful on the ball, the movie is a delightful watch.

6. The Miracle Of Bern

POW Richard returns from Siberia after years of captivity after World War II and almost inevitably fails to reintegrate into normal life. His family has accepted life without him, his ideals are no longer followed by his children and his young son, 11-year-old Matthias, doesn't even know his father. Yet over time the differences between son and father are resolved and Richard drives Matthias to Bern to watch the match. Another sub-plot of the story deals with a reporter and his wife. The Miracle of Bern is a movie about the 1954 World Cup winning team of Germany and is one of the better movies ever made on football.

7. A Captain's Tale

A Captain's Tale is a movie made for television centering on the true story of little Northern League amateur side West Auckland. Mainly comprised of miners from the Durham coalfield, they go to Italy in 1907 to participate in the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy. They would be mistaken for Woolwich Arsenal because of the same initials and would win the trophy that year; WA would successfully defend the trophy in 1909. This is perhaps not the usual fashion-filled football movie that one usually sees these days but is a classic tale of a true story that not all would be aware of.

8. Shaolin Soccer

Shaolin Soccer is not a typical football movie looking at ups and downs of a footballer or of a football club and is more famous for its weirdness and distinct peculiarity than for its depth in plot. It centres on the fascinating combination of football and kung fu as a former Shaolin monk reunites with his five brothers years after their master's death to apply their martial arts skills to play football and indulge everyone in the art of Shaolin kung fu. The movie is famous for its eccentricity and the scenes during the football matches are hugely hilarious.

9. The Arsenal Stadium Mystery

A Trojans' player drops dead in the middle of the football pitch at Highbury during a friendly match between professional club Arsenal and amateur side Trojans and it is revealed that he has been poisoned. Inspector Slade of Scotland Yard is called in to investigate and find out the killer.

The Arsenal Stadium Mystery is a classic combination of football and murder and stars several Arsenal players and staff such as Cliff Bastin and Eddie Hapgood.

10. Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal

Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal is an Indian movie that centres on Southall Football Club- a football club in England comprising entirely of Asian players- and the way it is saved from ruins by its loyal members and an ambitious young footballer aiming to make it big in football. Southall are bankrupt with no money, no stars, no fans and no coach and the local city council gives them a notice to leave their home ground. Club captain Shaan Ali refuses to give up and along with a new coach and a new star player in Sunny Bhasin starts his club's resurrection.

Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal stars one of India's most famous actors John Abraham, star actress Bipasha Basu as well as Arshad Warsi and Boman Irani.

Subhankar Mondal   

You can get these books from Amazon.com. We shall publish the second and final part of this weekend's movies special on Sunday and inform you about more football films that every football follower should watch.