Ranking the best 10 football games of the 90s: FIFA, Champ Man, SWOS…

Quick Reads

The thought of how much time we have devoted to playing football video games makes us feel both simultaneously proud and a little bit queasy.

And as good as they are today, there was a particular thrill to playing video games in the 90s, when the graphics were still pretty crap, the music was exceptionally cheesy and the players didn’t always have real names.

But what were the best games from the decade? We picked out a shortlist of 10, with only one game per series, then asked you to vote for your favourite. And here are the results.

Championship Manager 97/98

A management sim in which you could complete a couple of whole seasons in a day. Only text commentary while playing a match remains proof that simplicity is key.

Sensible Soccer

Sensi was first released in 1992, with SWOS following a couple of years later. A 2D football game might not look great to today’s generation, but it was a genuine game-changer at the time.

FIFA Road to World Cup 98

Blur – Song 2 as the theme music, Des Lynam commentating on the intro, indoor mode and the big arrow for set-pieces, all while trying to recreate Ronaldo or Zidane’s heroics in France.

International Superstar Soccer 98

The grandfather of what would become Pro Evolution, meaning fake player names galore, a commendable likeness to the actual kits, and wonderful celebrations.

Ultimate Soccer Manager 98

Featuring possibly the most ’90s-football-video-game music’ of all time, the upgrade on the original gave you the chance to take charge of a French or German side.

Kick Off 2

Released in 1990 and with incredibly addictive, quick 16-bit gameplay. Once described as the “equivalent of juggling bars of soap while riding a unicycle down a hill”.

Virtua Striker

The very first football game in 3D and also worth 1,000 nostalgia points for the fact it was played in arcades.

Actua Soccer

One of the first games to feature a 3D match engine and later endorsed by Alan Shearer. Mid-to-late-90’s Shearer. Peak Shearer. You can’t argue with that.

Player Manager

Did what it said on the tin, being the first game to allow you to both manage a side and play as a single player.

Libero Grande

One of the first games which gave you the ability to play as just one player – this was later adopted by FIFA, of course, with Be A Pro – plus the challenge of a skills mode.


More from Planet Football

Ranking the 10 best football boots of all time: Adidas? Nike? Puma?

Where are they now? The 22 shirt sponsors from the first PL season

The 10 best football TV shows of the 90s: Fantasy Football, Dream Team…

10 of the coolest 90s football shirts: England, Marseille, Fiorentina…