The dream team. The Manchester United class of 1992.

Bahir’s Best: Football Documentaries

Dept. of Non-Exhaustive Lists


You clicked the link. You’re here. I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’re curious about football. And you know what? It’s okay. The sport is already watched by billions of people around the world and that number may have just gone up by one.

Anyway, here I am making a case for a few football documentaries that are definitely worth checking out. My own personal biases may rear their ugly head from time to time so if you can look past that, I’ll look past you not being a Manchester United fan.

1. The Class of ’92

Speaking of Manchester United, let’s start with The Class of ’92, a documentary which centres on the rise of 6 young footballers through the ranks of United’s football academy to become the backbone of one of the greatest football dynasties in history. The documentary follows David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Gary and Phillip Neville, Nicky Butt, and Paul Scholes as they made their way up the ranks, and speaks to people from inside and outside the Manchester United organisation about this once in a lifetime group of players.

This is a must watch for every United fan, and is worth checking out for everyone who isn’t allergic to the name Manchester United.

2. Class of ’92: Out of Their League

Staying firmly on the topic of Manchester United, Out of Their League is another really fun watch. This series is a sort of follow-up to the previous documentary, where the players (sans David Beckham) buy a controlling interest in their local semi-amateur football team, Salford City FC.

This docuseries shows the non-heady side of football, where players are not playing for fame or money, but for the love of the game. It’s clear why these successful former players wanted to be a part of it. Not as some marketing or vanity project, but rather to be a part of football, as they remembered it, at the grassroots level. 

3. Diego Maradona

Like Asif Kapadia’s previous works (Amy, Senna) this HBO documentary takes you front and centre to tell the story of its mercurial subject. The documentary does a great job introducing Maradona to a new audience, showcasing his start in Buenos Aires, as well as his absolute genius on the football field. The real focus of the documentary, however, is on Maradona’s time at the lowly Napoli in Italy and what lead to his eventual downfall.

This is a football documentary that is for everyone who has heard and seen so much about the legend that is Diego Maradona, but want to go beyond the gossip and media headlines. This is a football documentary that really goes in-depth, showing not only his genius, but also Maradona’s flaws as a footballer and as a human being. 

4. Sunderland ’til I Die

In this 8-episode series, we are taken behind the scenes of Sunderland football club, as they try and fight off relegation from the second division of English football. 

This fly on the wall series really shows what goes on in a football organisation, with a lot of face time provided to the upper echelons, from the team manager to the chairman of the club, from transfer dramas to player injuries and personal issues. It really is something to be able to watch how a badly run football club looks like from the inside.

*Update: Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix. Read Bahir’s full review here.

5. Take Us Home: Leeds United

Amazon Prime’s docuseries is similar to the Netflix series on Sunderland AFC, except that Leeds United is just a better run organisation. From an involved owner who had put his own money into the club, to hiring the right management teams to support it, Take Us Home: Leeds United plays out like a manual on how to run a football club. 

In a season where a lot of change happens, from having a new owner, new management teams, and ultimately a new manager, this was the perfect time to take a peek at a team that was clearly heading into a new more exciting era.

6. Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait

Zinedine Zidane was considered to be one of the best midfielders of his generation. This documentary shows us why. 17 cameras follow the midfield maestro in a game for Real Madrid in real time, never cutting away from him as he roams the field and makes plays for his team.

The documentary is “narrated” by Zidane himself, but told in subtitles as he takes you into his head, talking about his mindset during a match, his past, and his personal thoughts. And because we follow just one player, this is a film that really makes the game feel personal, and lonely, despite being on a field with 10 other teammates, and in a stadium with close to 80,000 spectators. Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait is a definite addition to the great football documentaries of the past 20 years.

Other Notable Mentions

First Team: Juventus
Very much like entries 4 and 5 above, but with a successful Italian team. Not as dramatic, but definitely worth a watch for the Juventus fan, and fans of the Italian league. Watch the trailer here.

All or Nothing: Manchester City
A series that follows a very successful team, and a very enigmatic manager, as they make their way through a title winning season. Watch the trailer here.

Bobby: More Than A Manager
A biographical documentary about the life and death of Sir Bobby Robson, one of the few English football managers who successfully managed teams outside the English league. Watch the trailer here.

Maradona in Mexico
A series on the enigmatic footballer as he takes on the role of manager for a struggling football club in the lower divisions of the Mexican football league. For a full review of the series, click here. You can also watch the trailer here.

Bahir likes to review movies because he can watch them at special screenings and not have to interact with large groups of people who may not agree with his idea of what a movie going experience is. Bahir likes jazz, documentaries, Ken Burns, and summer blockbuster movies. He really hopes that the HBO MAX Green Lantern series will help the character be cool again. Also don’t get him started on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman (#NotMyArthurCurry).

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