Groundhopper Guides List of the Best Soccer Books and Movies

Paul Gerald · Profile
Groundhopper Guides List of the Best Soccer Books and Movies

Aside from our book, of course, here are what we think are the best soccer books and films you might want to read and see.


The Game of Our Lives is honestly the book about English soccer. It picks up where The Ball is Round (below) leaves off and focused entirely on England and the UK over the last 30 years. If you want context and perspective on the current state of English soccer, as well as England and the UK, read this book. Here’s a deeper look.

Hooper’s Revolution is a fun, silly novel based on the premise that soccer in America really is a communist plot, and it takes a hulking centerback from East Southwich Albion to save the day. And maybe beat the Giganticos. Our review.

The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer, by David Goldblatt. This is a comprehensive history of the game, which is to say it’s massive, thick, tough to get through, incomparable, and indispensable.

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby. Hollywood made a stupid movie with this title about the Boston Red Sox, but the real story was about Arsenal. It’s about one man’s relationship with football and his beloved club. Here’s my review.

Among the Thugs is the best and most famous book about football hooliganism — because it’s about a lot more, and less, than that. My review.

The History of English Football Clubs, by Colin Mitchell. At 400 pages, you will not find a better source for the history of 133 clubs. Published in 2013.

Dictionary of Football Club Nicknames in Britain and Ireland, by Shaun Tyas. You might not think this topic rates 350 pages, but the author proves you wrong – and also introduces you to names like the Cider Army and the Wurzels.

Football Cliches, by Adam Hurrey. Let’s put it this way: the opening chapter is called “101 Ways to Score a Goal (or not)” and explains very important distinctions like an impudent chip versus an exocet.

How Soccer Explains the World, by Franklin Foer. Each chapter takes you to a different place and explains how soccer touches on a current theme: Brazil for corruption, Italy for the “new oligarchs,” America for the culture wars.

Savage Enthusiasm, by Paul Brown. A history of football fans – how they have evolved and why they (we) care so much.

Bloody Confused!: A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer, by Chuck Culpepper. A veteran sports writer has lost all passion for the subject, and turns it into a job to be analyzed. And then he encounters Portsmouth FC. Hilarity ensues.

Who Are Ya?: The TalkSport Book of Football’s Best Ever Chants, by Gershon Portnoi. It’s really hard to write about songs (trust me), but this book is at least a humorous and entertaining entry into the world of soccer singing.


The Athletic is, for me, the best thing out there for reading about football world-wide.

The Football Pink delves into the game’s history and culture. Free online subscription.

Boys in Bolos is a fun Premier League podcast that Groundhopper Paul even made an appearance on.


Super League: The War for Football is a four-part series from Apple TV that tells the story of the sudden rise and dramatic fall — for now — of the European Super League. It’s very much from the perspective of UEFA, which headed off an attempt by huge European clubs to blow up the current Champions League.

Welcome to Wrexham is the story of two Hollywood bros buying a club, mainly so they can make a TV series about … themselves buying a club. Here’s my take on it.

Looking for Eric, as in Eric Cantona, who is played by himself, is really about how football and our heroes can connect us to others and help solve problems. It’s also funny. Our review.

Green Street Hooligans tells the story of an American getting into hooligan culture, mostly of interest for some scenes from West Ham’s old ground and a fiarly authentic representation of some football culture. Here’s our review.

The Keeper is the true story of a German solider in a World War II British POW camp who becomes a legendary goalkeeper at Manchester City. Review.

Shaolin (Kung Fu) Soccer is just some crazy dumb fun, kind of Bad News Bears meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Review here.

Ted Lasso is a series based on the highly successful NBC Premier League promo video, in which an American college football coach takes over an English football club.

Fever Pitch — the real one, about Arsenal, with Colin Firth. Not the stupid American rip-off.

Escape to Victory, or just Victory in the US, seems it would be terrible since it has Sly Stallone playing soccer in it, but in fact it’s kind of a classic. And the actual soccer action in it is remarkable.

Maradona in Mexico (Netflix) — or, when a global icon in the sport, also a drug addict, shows up to manage a second-division Mexican club in cartel country. My review.

One Night in Istanbul is a caper film about four lads trying to get to the 2005 Champions League Final to watch their beloved Istanbul. My review.

Will is based on the same game as above, but more along the lines of drama, heartbreak and inspiration.

Goal! is an acclaimed documentary film about England’s 1966 World Cup triumph at Wembley — with the greatest closing line in the history of film, by the way.

Matthews (Amazon Prime) is a documentary about the legendary Sir Stanley Matthews, first ever winner (at age 41!) of the Ballon D’or.

The English Game, just released on Netflix, is a six-part miniseries on the rise of the professional footballer in the 1880s, woven together with class relations, the workers’ rights movement, some love affairs, life drama, etc. From the creator of Downtown Abbey. My review.

The Damned United is not a 100% historically accurate portrayal of Brian Clough’s time at Leeds United, but it’s a fun movie. Michael Sheen, who plays Clough, is outstanding. Here is our review.

I Believe in Miracles is the true (and incredible) story of what Clough did later at Nottingham Forest.

Sunderland Til I Die is another Netflix series that goes behind the scenes at the north east club. Here’s my review.

All Or Nothing is a behind-the-scenes docu-series from Amazon Prime about a very different team and season at Manchester City.

The Bromley Boys is a sweet coming-of-age story focused on a South London lower-tier team and its supporters.

City! is a six-part documentary available on YouTube, a behind-the-scenes look at Manchester City in 1981.

Busby is a documentary on Sir Matt Busby, the legendary manager who made Manchester United what they are today.

Mike Bassett: England Manager is a goofy “mockumentary” about a nobody who becomes England manager. Very loosely based on the true and sad story of a 1990s manager when England were terrible. My review.

Kicking & Screaming (hat tip: Groundhopper Rob M), a Will Farrell-meets-soccer-and-Mike-Ditka romp.

Take Us Home – Leeds United (hat tip: Groundhopper Johnny), a behind-the-scenes look at Leeds trying to get back to the Premier League. My review. And there’s now a second “season” of two shows.

Written By Paul Gerald
Paul Gerald, Owner and Founder of Groundhopper Soccer Guides · Profile
Paul is a traveler, writer, publisher and soccer freak. He started Groundhopper Soccer Guides as in 2014. When he's not kicking around England working on this site and his book, you can find him at Providence Park in Portland, cheering on the Portland Timbers.

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