If there is one thing that sports fans crave over anything else, it is to see the real stories behind their teams, players, and officials.
Behind-the-scenes documentaries give viewers the chance to see the personalities behind their heroes and the truth behind the controversies while also adding flesh to the bones created by mainstream media.
How an athlete or team is portrayed by the media is often not a fair reflection of what they’re really like. Likewise, a moment in time can be captured in a newspaper very differently than how it is captured on camera as it unfolds.
That’s why we have such a thirst for documentaries and tell-all programs giving us the true stories behind some of the greatest figures in sports.
So, here are five essential soccer documentaries from around the world you simply must watch.
5. An Impossible Job
While soccer documentaries are all the rage right now, one of the oldest and most entertaining of the past 30 years must be the inside story of England manager Graham Taylor’s failure to reach the World Cup in 1994. Taylor was pilloried by the press and lambasted by the public, and yet many only had salacious newspaper headlines to reference.
When this program was released, FourFourTwo described it as “the most controversial football documentary ever made.” It broke new ground which has allowed many to follow.
4. First Team: Juventus
Controversy ensures a captivated audience, but sometimes it is purely the quality of the cast that holds a viewer’s attention.
The story of Juventus’ 2017/18 campaign grants unprecedented insight into some of Italy’s most famous sons. Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini feature heavily in this Netflix series, giving exclusive interviews and demonstrating their influence on the “Old Lady” of Italian football. The unique setting of the Turin giants gives this a wholly different flavor to some of the shows on our list.
3. All or Nothing: Manchester City
The Amazon Prime series All or Nothing purports to be about Manchester City’s remarkable success under Spaniard Pep Guardiola, but in truth, it is a vehicle for the manager himself.
While the club sets the backdrop for events, the intrigue is supplied by seeing the inner workings of one of the world’s most successful managers — his tactics, man management, and unbelievably cool exterior under pressure.
There isn’t anything shocking to be seen in this sanitized view of Manchester City, but’s it is essential viewing all the same.
2. Sunderland Til I Die
Car crash television attracts viewers like a red rag attracts a bull, and few documentaries can be as enthralling and cringe-worthy in equal measure as Netflix’s Sunderland Til I Die.
Picking up in the aftermath of Sunderland’s relegation to the English Championship, the aim was likely to capture their rise back to the top flight. Instead, the cameras caught every horrible moment of a complete collapse, resulting in third-tier football for only the second time in their history.
Painting players such as Lewis Grabban and Jack Rodwell as pantomime villains, we saw tears of anguish, anger, and angst as the Black Cats tumbled to the bottom of the table.
Only an English soccer dynasty keeps this from being the one absolute must-see documentary on the list.
1. Class of ‘92
Manchester United have a long and storied history with the FA Cup. A recent Ladbrokes post on music and the FA Cup details how David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville, and Phil Neville reached the pinnacle of their careers in 1999 with a historic treble.
That was the culmination of a journey that took them from the Manchester United youth team through to FA Cup and Premier League success, before snaring the biggest prize of all: the Champions League.
This documentary shows the people behind the legend, the personalities behind the trophies. As they continue to influence the game today, from League Two in the UK to the MLS, this program is a must-see to gain an understanding of what drove these seven friends to wonderful heights.