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Seven Soccer Movies to Fill the Hole Left by the End of the Women’s World Cup

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Iain McParland
| September 18, 2023
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The Women’s World Cup has been and gone. Congratulations to the Spanish! They were the better team in the final (can you hear the salt in my voice? Damn you, Lionesses!). And, ignoring the controversies of Kissgate, what a World Cup it was!

Since the conclusion of the tournament, I’ve had a hankering for some more soccer! Although the major men’s leagues across Europe have restarted, it is not scratching that itch. FEED ME MORE SOCCER! 

So join me in celebrating some of the best soccer movies of all time. Ish. Well, they’re movies! I’ve picked seven of my favorites:

Bend it Like Beckham

Parminda Nagra and Keira Knightly star in this 2002 movie about a London soccer team. But it’s much more than that. It’s also a peephole into the life and culture of a South Asian-English family life. When Jules (Knightly) spots a talented and footy-mad Jess (Nagra), playing in the park, she invites her to join the local team. Jess will have to navigate family drama and racial prejudice throughout this uplifting movie about a girl following her passion. 

It’s a classic, and it’s freaking funny, too! 

Shaolin Soccer

Ever wondered what you would get if you mixed a Bruce Lee movie with sports-ball? You get Shaolin Soccer. A disgraced ex-soccer coach (Man-Tat Ng) meets a Shaolin Kung Fu expert (Stephen Chow), and they hatch a ridiculous plan. They will blend the mighty Shaolin and soccer to create the greatest team OF ALL TIME!

There are serious anime vibes in this movie, which has the tagline “Let’s Kick Some Grass!”

Mike Bassett: England Manager

Created in a Mockumentary style, this movie documents the trials and tribulations of Mike Bassett (Ricky Tomlinson), a soccer manager who finds himself in charge of the England national team when every other candidate turns down the position. The film is a tribute to the weird-ass culture of English football and plays on the fact that the England manager’s job used to be a poisoned chalice

With outlandish, drunk and disorderly players and eccentric sports psychologists (in a time when it was not commonplace to have such employees on staff), this film is a must-see for fans of older British comedies such as The Office UK, The Royle Family, and Brass Eye.

Kicking & Screaming

Will Ferrell stars as Phil Weston, a man with a competitive streak due to his relationship with his overbearing coach father (Robert Duvall). A la The Mighty Ducks, Phil starts coaching a team of unathletic losers, which includes his own son. Like Coach Bombay, his job is to take a group of misfits and make them winners!

But will history repeat itself, destroying his relationship with his son forever? And what will happen when his team plays their rivals who are coached by his father? Wow, this family needs to chill out!

She’s the Man

Believe it or not, She’s the Man is based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Viola (Amanda Bynes) poses as her twin brother Sebastien at his new boarding school. She falls for her roommate and the school soccer team’s talisman, Duke (Channing Tatum), who believes she is a dude.. somehow. It’s more of a high school teen comedy than a soccer movie, but it’s definitely a prominent part of the narrative!

To top all of this off, the soccer team is coached by none other than bad boy from the 90s, Vinnie Jones, who is now known more for his Hollywood roles than his former Crazy Gang antics

Believe

Set in Manchester in the 80s; this is the uplifting tale of a children’s soccer team’s journey to win the cup. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Oh, yeah! This team is coached by the late great Sir Matt Busby (Brian Cox), the manager of Manchester United when they first won the European Cup. He was also a survivor of the Munich Air Disaster

This fictional tale of the retired Sir Matt Busby coaching a children’s soccer team in an attempt to bring joy to his life is uplifting and poignant but also has funny moments throughout. This film is niche, but it’s worth a watch! Brian Cox does “moody old man” so well!

Mean Machine

Have you ever seen The Longest Yard with Adam Sandler? Or The Longest Yard with Burt Reynolds? Well, Mean Machine is pretty much that same film but based in England and with soccer instead of American Football. It’s a classic for a reason!

Former England captain Danny Meehan (Vinnie Jones again) is thrown in jail for assault. He’s unpopular behind bars, to say the least, but all that could change if he leads the prisoner’s soccer team to victory against the evil guards. Honestly, it’s not as good as The Longest Yard, but it stars a young Jason Statham, so if that floats your boat…

What are your favorite soccer movies? Are there any that should be on the list? 

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