While I find it hard to sit through a full two-hour movie, I can watch these football documentaries over and over again. And I’m not mad at that at all. My girlfriend might be, but the sooner she realises that this is all for the greater good to build the foundations for our marriage, the better things will be!
What are the best Football Documentaries made in 2022?
Well, to rank here, they need to be informative and entertaining.
Oh, and in the world of 4k – beautifully produced.
As Netflix, Amazon Prime and even Apple TV continue to spoil us with this obscene regularity of high-quality programming, the common eye struggles to comprehend anything but the very best, crystal clear production that money can buy.
But rest assured, we have picked three football documentaries which hit every single one of these needs, but we’ll leave room for some of the pluckier ones at another time.
For now, let’s start with a proper mind-bender:
The Figo Affair: The Transfer that Changed Football (Netflix)
For the younger readers, this would be referring to Luis Figo.
Portugal’s best winger before Cristiano burst onto the scene.
This story is so unbelievable, I’m glad there was a cameraman nearby.
Directed by Pitch Productions – the indie studio behind the Pelé documentary on Netflix too – it’s a beautifully insightful and intimate portrayal of Luis Figo.
Arguably one of the most perennially understood and forgotten icons of his time.
At his best, Luis Figo broke through those Sporting Lisbon ranks to become a formidable part of FC Barcelona’s ‘Dream Team 2.0’ with Rivaldo, Patrick Kluivert and the great Ronaldo leading the line under managers like Sir Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal.
While there, it was clear that the fleet-footed, slick-haired Spaniard possessed everything that was needed to be a chart-topping winger in the 21st century.
Naturally, a number of rich suitors appeared on the scene.
Each with vague attempts to lure the beloved Portuguese from his favourite space.
Then, almost out of the blue (at least, that’s how it certainly appeared to the outside world, Luis Figo did indeed leave FC Barcelona for a world-record fee, and his choice of suitor shocked fans the world over. It was Florentino Perez’ Real Madrid.
Now, the white-haired president is more infamous for his recent persistence with the European Super League, but back here, he was ploughing on with the Galactico project.
A fictitious title which formed the very basis of his presidential campaign.
The idea was that Real Madrid would reassert themselves right atop the footballishing tree, by buying the very best players in the world and assembling a squad of impalpable, incomparable ability when matched against even their closest rival.
Luis Figo looked like the first domino to fall, but Netflix did an amazing job to scavenge as many key-witness accounts of what actually took place behind the scenes, to paint one of the weirdest, most awkward and nigh-on illegal transfers the game has ever seen.
Match that with a wonderful violin-led soundtrack, a delicate blend of archival and updated content and the revelations to come, and it’s easily one of the best football documentaries that’s ever been made, leave alone just for 2022.
Unless you’re a Barcelona fan of that time, of course. I imagine this still stings!
Rooney (Amazon Prime)
As a Manchester United fan myself, I didn’t know how to feel before watching this.
Because though I appreciated Wayne Rooney, I never really loved him.
Whether it was the premature peaking of his physical condition, the spoiled life I led as a United fan in the height of the Fergie era, or perhaps his multiple attempts to break away from the club only to delete his transfer request emails, this was probably the one I approached with more scepticism of all the football documentaries for this year.
But I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised as to the timeline this film took.
It wasn’t (as I originally expected), some inflammatory piece of propaganda used to infalet Wayne Rooney’s profile against a backdrop of fans born in the Messi vs Ronaldo term.
If anything, it was to shine a light on what was an incredible early rise to prominence for the humble, stocky forward, and how he mentally coped under the weight of expectation once he’d graduated from Premier League prodigy to national hope.
As expected, his life wasn’t short of ups and downs.
Both from a personal and professional perspective; which the cameras capture well.
Granted, Wayne Rooney might not exactly be the most captivating narrator of all time – even for his own story – but the pure content of his career helps in this instance.
In one of the most honest football documentaries I’ve watched in a very long time, we saw a raw, bare-faced Rooney talk through his marital indiscretions with wife Coleen. The issues he’s faced with injuries in the prime of his career, and even that famous Cristiano Ronaldo wink which downed him and England at the 2006 World Cup.
Ironically, the documentary ends on a bit of a cliffhanger during his time at Derby, as it was set and produced before their brave fight to avoid relegation failed in 2021/22.
But with the recent revelations about Ronaldo in that Piers Morgan interview, and his latest stint with DC United taking shape, they paint an interesting preamble to his new foray.
Ronaldo: ‘The Phenomenon’ (BBC FOUR / DAZN)
I’d been waiting to watch this ever since I first saw the advert.
Because much like many fans my age, I was completely besotted by Ronaldo.
He made things look so effortless with the ball, and given my young affiliation with players that scored goals (like any kid), there was seldom a striker who did it better than he.
Immensely fleet-footed and almost just as quick as he was with the ball, than without, he was an olympic sprinter with a cannon in his right boot. With the physique of a boxer and the grace of a ballet dancer. The man defied physics and the laws of football reality.
If you think I’m being over-the-top, then you clearly haven’t watched enough of him.
But don’t worry, BBC FOUR have you covered for that in the UK, while DAZN (the original filmmakers) have the movie available on their platform across their global territories.
Of all the football documentaries on this list, I’d say I enjoyed this the most.
For the better part of the first hour, viewers are made to learn of the unerring quality of Ronaldo, and the sinister reality that came with dealing with stardom at a young age.
Better still, they regularly shift to a maturer Ronaldo in an interview setting for him to comment on how he now views the ghosts of his past. Namely, that controversial omission-cum-selection and subsequent loss at the 1998 World Cup.
Much has been written and hypothesised over this issue, and it’s great that Ronaldo has finally laid to rest the audacity of some of the comments that plagued that tournament.
While also addressing a much more modern mental health element to the situation, which brings to light a real issue affecting footballers of a similar notoriety today.
You don’t tend to see this raw level of insight in football documentaries.
And we should all be thankful to Ronaldo and DAZN for this, because they’ve created nothing short of a masterpiece here. An absolute must for every football fan to watch when they have the chance.
These football documentaries are exactly what you need to get you through right to the end of the year, and I’d be surprised if you don’t finish them and write immediately to me to express your gratitude at writing this for Hobby FC. After all, it’s the only proper thing to do.
Remember, we have a whole wealth of content here in the archives, and are working to bring you new and exciting impacts all the time – so why not check out another piece we wrote here.
What did you make of these football documentaries / films and what would you rate them out of 5?