It’s the international break and with no club football to occupy you, you may find yourself at a loose end this weekend.
But help is at hand, because here are 10 brilliant football documentaries that are well worth your time.
🔟 Next Goal Wins
This is the story of American Samoa, a tiny Pacific island who were dubbed the worst team in the world after losing 31-0 to Australia back in 2001.
A decade on from that humiliation, having lost every competitive game they’ve ever played and having scored just two goals in 17 years, they embark on a qualification campaign for the 2014 World Cup.
9️⃣ An Impossible Job
This fly-on-the-wall documentary charts England’s failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup and Graham Taylor’s subsequent resignation.
The documentary is thought to be one of the inspirations for the 2001 fictional film Mike Bassett: England Manager and popularised such bizarre phrases from Taylor such as “Do I not like that” and “Can we not knock it?”
The whole thing is available for free on YouTube.
8️⃣ Take The Ball, Pass The Ball
With 14 trophies won between 2008 and 2014, Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona were arguably the greatest club side of all time, and this is their story.
Featuring interviews with the likes of Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry and Xavi, the film features fascinating insights into Guardiola’s infamous rivalry with José Mourinho, Eric Abidal’s battle with cancer and much more.
7️⃣ The Class of ’92
Has there ever been a better batch of academy graduates than David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes?
This 2013 documentary centres on the six players who came through Manchester United’s youth-system in the early 90s and formed the core of a team which would go on to win multiple English and European titles.
It’s a funny and, at times, touching documentary which also features interviews from the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Eric Cantona and Tony Blair.
6️⃣ Orient: Club for a Fiver
What began as a student film charting the trials and tribulations of Leyton Orient quickly snowballed into something much, much bigger.
The 1994/95 season proved to be one of Orient’s worst ever as they failed to win away from home all season and went eight matches without scoring.
And the star of the show is co-manager John Sitton, who was famously responsible for such dressing room tirades as: “And you can pair up if you like. And you can fucking pick someone else to help you, and you can bring your fucking dinner. Because, by the time I’m finished with you, you’ll fucking need it. Do you fucking hear what I’m saying or not?”
5️⃣ One Night in Turin
Narrated by Gary Oldman and featuring previously unseen footage, this 2010 documentary tells the story of England’s 1990 World Cup campaign.
With English football in disarray heading into the tournament, Bobby Robson’s team came within a whisker of the World Cup final as they ultimately lost on penalties to West Germany in the semi-final.
But what a marvellous adventure it was.
4️⃣ Sunderland ‘Til I Die
One of the big problems with Manchester City’s 2018 Amazon Prime documentary was the lack of jeopardy. There are only so many times you can see players joyfully celebrating another victory or another trophy before it gets a bit tedious.
Thankfully, the Sunderland documentary released on Netflix later in the year features none of that.
This one tells the story of the Black Cats’ miserable, heart-wrenching voyage down to League One and the effect back-to-back relegations can have on a club and a city.
The first series is still available on Netflix with the second series slated for release in February 2020.
3️⃣ I Believe In Miracles
If Guardiola’s Barcelona are the greatest club side ever, then Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest are the most unlikely.
The brilliantly mercurial manager led Forest to back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980 and this film features some cracking footage and hilarious anecdotes.
Oh, and the soundtrack is 10/10.
2️⃣ Diego Maradona
The newest entry on this list only came out earlier this year but it’s easily one of the best on the market.
The film tells the story of Maradona’s time at Napoli in the mid-80s and has been described by one critic as “A compelling, tragic life of gangsters, glory, goal-scoring and addiction”.
Some of the never-before-seen footage is astounding and there’s a good chance you’ll learn plenty you didn’t know about El Diego too.
1️⃣ The Two Escobars
This isn’t just the greatest football documentary of all-time but one of the best documentaries ever made.
Produced as part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, the film tells the story of Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and his namesake, Colombian international footballer Andres Escobar.
The two were not related but their fates were inextricably intertwined.
And that’s all we’ll say. Watch it, you won’t regret it.