13 of the best football documentaries on Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube
The summer months can be a time to take a breather from football or, for most of us, a time to experience crippling withdrawals.
Pre-season tournaments past midnight in Timbuktu are all well and good for the hardest of the hardcore. But for most of us, we just want football on every evening and all day on Saturday and Sunday. Is that too much to ask?
The answer until football is back for the season is a good old fashioned documentary. Here are 13 of the best on Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube to keep you ticking over until the real stuff starts.
Planet FIFA – 2016
Few television storylines are as engaging and intriguing as corruption. The difference here is that it was all very, very real.
Corruption at football’s governing body was long suspected but was nigh on impossible to prove. Enter the FBI.
In 2015, US prosecutors disclosed cases of widespread corruption within the organisation, ultimately leading to the downfall of FIFA president Sepp Blatter despite his desperate attempts to cling to power.
This documentary, available on Netflix, delves deep into the shady dealings of the organisation and explores what factors led to such duplicity on a never-before-seen scale.
Just watched the #PlanetFIFA documentary on #Netflix | I wish the FBI would investigate similar issues with the #NCAA as they did with #FIFA– there are SO many similarities in the stories of these organizations. pic.twitter.com/K1DIEtQ6rY
— Atul Rishi-Sharma (@AtulRishiSharma) June 16, 2019
All or Nothing: Manchester City – 2018
An eight-part series detailing Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City on their relentless march to the first-ever 100-point season in the Premier League.
The Amazon Prime original gives viewers an insight into the mind of one of the greatest ever coaches and behind-the-scenes footage from one of the footballing world’s top clubs.
Sunderland ‘Til I Die – 2018
Following relegation to the second tier of English football, this Netflix series follows the unerring passion of the Mackem faithful as the club tries to stave off disaster in the form of consecutive relegations.
It documents the highs and lows of one of the best-supported clubs in England in a series Sports Illustrated described as “a cut above the rest.”
Trainer! – 2013
Follow the trials and tribulations of three aspiring German football coaches as they seek to forge a path into the world of coaching.
This Netflix documentary lifts the lid on how the Germans’ approach to coaching in the DFB training program has led to a sustained period of excellence with the national team.
A pre-Liverpool Jurgen Klopp is also featured, giving extensive insight into his methods and practices.
— Bundesliga FANatic (@Bundesliga4u) September 5, 2016
Gascoigne – 2015
A flawed genius, Paul Gascoigne was perhaps the most talented English player of his generation. But few have experienced such lofty highs and debilitating lows as Gazza.
This feature-length theatrical documentary, available to buy on YouTube, explores the life and times of the man from Gateshead, featuring comment from esteemed figures in the game such as Jose Mourinho, Gary Lineker, Wayne Rooney and more.
Take the Ball, Pass the Ball – 2018
Few clubs evoke the scintillating memories and raw emotion that Barcelona bring. From Cruyff to Messi and Maradona to Ronaldinho, the names come and go, but the fabled red and blue striped shirt lives forever.
For a period of four years under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, Barcelona produced the greatest club football the world had ever seen. Follow their journey during the Pep years on YouTube as Messi, Xavi, Puyol and co. plundered 14 trophies in just four seasons.
Ronaldo – 2015
A close look at the life of Cristiano Ronaldo – one of the world’s most recognisable sportsmen.
From delighting fans worldwide with his on-pitch heroics to being the name and face of a multitude of global brands, the spotlight always shines the brightest on Cristiano Ronaldo.
This documentary, available on Netflix, looks through that polished facade into the mind and personal life of a global superstar.
Bobby Robson: More than a Manager – 2018
Go deep into the life and times of Sir Bobby Robson – a pillar of the English game.
The documentary on Netflix charts Robson’s path from his burgeoning managerial career at Ipswich in the 1960s and beyond.
His time as England manager, his years spent coaching European powerhouses abroad and his final position as Newcastle boss are all explored in great detail and depth.
Lots of rarely-seen archival footage and home videos feature in the film that earned a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
George Best: All by Himself – 2016
Experience the rise and fall of one of football’s great personalities in this documentary on YouTube.
George Best had conquered the world with European Cup glory at the tender age of 22. Unfortunately for the Northern Irishman, however, his well-documented battle with alcoholism and playboy lifestyle began to spiral out of control.
Best endured a turbulent life towards the end of his playing career and into retirement before sadly succumbing to kidney and liver complications and passing away at the age of 59 in 2005.
They Think It’s All Rovers – 1998
The opening line sums up Doncaster Rovers in the 1990s: “This is Mark Weaver, the general manager of the worst professional football club in the country.”
The term ‘basket case’ has never been so apt. From the owner paying an ex-SAS soldier to start a fire in his own stadium to relegation to the fifth tier of English football, Doncaster Rovers were a complete shambles.
Relive the chaotic scenes at the Yorkshire club in this 48-minute documentary available for free on YouTube. And then read 6,000 words from us as we tracked down some of the key characters involved to shine a new light on the story.
First Team: Juventus – 2018
The Netflix original documentary followed Juventus during the 2017-18 campaign, with two series of three episodes each.
Gianluigi Buffon and Gonzalo Higuain are among the players you can get a behind-the-scenes view from, while Juve legend Alessandro Del Piero also makes an appearance.
Episodes are 40 minutes long, which makes a one-day binge very, very possible. You won’t regret it.
Take us Home – 2019
Due to be released on Amazon Prime in August, this Russell Crowe-narrated six-part series looks back upon Leeds’ quest to regain their Premier League status in the 2018-19 campaign.
Take a behind-the-scenes look as enigmatic coach Marcelo Bielsa tried everything to make the Elland Road faithful’s dreams come true.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) July 24, 2019
This Is Football – 2019
Another new series coming on Amazon Prime in August, This Is Football consists of six hour-long episodes, each centred around a different theme: Redemption, Faith, Chances, Love, Pride and Miracles.
The first episode has been reviewed by The Guardian’s Barney Ronay and sounds brilliant, focusing on a group of fanatical Rwandan Liverpool fans and the wider role football played in the recovery from the Rwandan Civil War.
We can’t wait.