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The 50 sport films you must see

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5 April 2020 07:005 April 2020 07:00Use #mybestsportfilm to tell us your favourite sport filmGot a TV Licence?You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.Find out moreLive ReportingWhat we’ve tried to do…50 sport films you must seeRocky Balboa bounding up the steps to…

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  1. 50 sport films you must see

    Rocky Balboa bounding up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a group of white-clad men running along a beach as Vangelis plays, Pele… sorry, Luis Fernandez rising in slow motion to score with an overhead kick for the Allied side against the Nazis.

    Film has provided us with some truly memorable sporting moments.

    Now, with pretty much all sport halted as the world looks to combat the spread of coronavirus, film is one of the few places we can turn to get our fix of football, cricket, rugby and the rest.

    To help you sift through the many sporting films out there, BBC Sport journalists have picked 50 of the best and have had a go at selling them to you.

    We have made our picks to ensure a broad selection of sports are covered, along with a number of different genres, including some comedies and documentaries.

    And we’ve supplied you with an indication of how each might give you your sporting fix or use a bit of artistic licence to get you invested.

    We’ve also dug out a trailer for each film, to give you a taster. These are taken from YouTube and may contain adult themes.

    In addition, we have enlisted the help of some of our leading correspondents to give a brief overview of their sport on film.

    These 50 films are by no means a definitive top list of sporting films, but they should hopefully be enough to fill the void and give you your sporting fix.

  2. comments

    Get involved

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    We don’t want this to just end here, though. Far from it.

    We want you to play your part and recommend the films in this list that you think people should watch.

    To do so, simply use the thumb icons on the bottom of each review – click the thumb up icon to recommend it, or the thumb down to suggest you think people should give it a miss.

    And there’s more…

    We want to know about your favourite sport films. Love one on this list? Tell us why? Have we missed off your favourite? Tell us.

    To do so, use the hashtag #mybestsportfilm on Twitter.

    We sports fans have each others’ backs.

  3. A League Of Their Own (1992, PG)

    ‘There’s no crying in baseball’

    They are the members of the All-American League, they come from cities near and far…

    Penny Marshall’s beloved comedy is not only a wonderfully-staged and acted period piece about a previously little-chronicled aspect of American sporting history, but also a timely reminder of how far women’s sport has come in the near eight decades since the film was set.

    It tells the story of the formation of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, set up when the outbreak of World War II stripped the professional mens’ teams of the bulk of their players and threatened the curtailment of “America’s favourite pastime”. Our protagonists are the Rockford Peaches, one of the sides of the newly-formed league.

    It is, of course, as much about the relationships that are built off the pitch as the bases stolen and home runs hit on it. I defy you not to be fully invested in the Peaches’ fate come the World Series or have tears in your eyes come the films coda. PD

    Key cast: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna

    Sporting fix: When your story hinges on showing the girls can do it just as well as the boys, getting the baseball right is a must. And it does. The actresses trained eight hours a day, six days a week for seven and half months to ensure they looked the part, and it shows, especially in the World Series showdown between the Peaches and the Belles. Former members of the AAGPBL have also praised the film for getting many aspects of the league right.

    Artistic licence: There’s an unavoidable Hollywood sprinkle to proceedings and, despite being styled after real-life figures in the AAGPBL, sadly the likes of Jimmy Duggan and Dottie Henson are creations for the film. If you want the real thing, there is a documentary, that precedes the film, you can watch on Amazon Prime.

    Where to watch: Rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and YouTube Movies.

  4. An Impossible Job (1994, 15)

    ‘At the end of the day, I get the sack now’

    Graham Taylor

    Copyright: Rex Features

    A visceral visualisation of a man’s world falling apart around him, Graham Taylor takes you through the lows and lows of being the England manager as he failed to reach a World Cup.

    What makes this amazing Channel 4 documentary – which is able to lurch from genuine you-couldn’t-write-it comedy skits to heart-wrenching trauma on a scene-by-scene basis – quite so good is the performance of the late Taylor himself.

    Seen as a laughing stock at the time of broadcast, now you see just what Taylor was up against in the form of horrible injuries, a hostile, bordering on cruel press, a team in transition and a dithering FA board stuck in a time warp.

    Throughout it all Taylor’s passion, spirit and all-round decency shine through. The most increible part of all? The famous ‘the referee’s got me the sack’ Rotterdam denouement would not have been possible at all had Taylor not gone out of his way to help the film crew get inside the stadium.

    Football documentaries would never be the same again. For all the money in the world Amazon could only dream of such access now. TR

    Paul Gascoigne and Graham Taylor

    Copyright: Rex Features

    Image caption: “One positive which came out of it is that people saw I was passionate about the job,” Taylor told us in 2013. “But I can’t watch it.”

    Key cast: Graham Taylor, Phil Neal, Carlton Palmer

    Sporting fix: Breathe it in. You’re in the dugout as England make mess after mess of qualifying for the World Cup. If you’re not shouting ‘Can we not knock it?!’ and ‘Hell’s bells!’ by the end of play I’ll eat my hat. And how did Ronald Koeman not get sent off?! Also contains my favourite ever edit (‘What we don’t want is to be caught quick break…’)

    Artistic licence: There’s no room to hide here. Fly on the wall, Clough from the left stuff from start to finish.

    Where can I watch? If I had my way it would be on prime time TV every night but sadly nowhere, officially. You’ll find it out there.

  5. Any Given Sunday (1999, 15)

    ‘You find out life’s this game of inches…’

    Strap yourselves in for this one because Oliver Stone’s fictitious exposé of the world of American football starts fast and only speeds up from there.

    It opens with 20 minutes of brutal gridiron action, where you can practically feel every hit and smell every last bead of sweat. And as the film rumbles on you can tick off the sporting cliches – Al Pacino’s aging coach, Dennis Quaid’s veteran quarterback, Jamie Foxx’s arrogant upstart and Cameron Diaz the owner who’s inherited the Miami Sharks from her father, trying to restore the team to its former glory.

    As the Sharks battle to make the play-offs, you go through a range of emotions as each of the key players learns a valuable lesson before a gripping finale that begins with Pacino’s now famous stirring pre-match team-talk about the precious commodity of inches. It will have you wanting to pull on the pads and get out there yourself. BC

    Key cast: Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz

    Sporting fix: The presence of two-time Super Bowl winner Lawrence Taylor lends some authenticity. But aside from a few suspect tackles, it’s a realistic portrayal of life at the line of scrimmage – until someone’s eyeball is taken clean out of its socket. It even raises a couple of prescient points with a concern for players’ welfare and the number of black coaches.

    Artistic licence: Everything is jacked up to the max, including the performances from the likes of Foxx, Diaz and the grand daddy of them all, Pacino himself. It makes its points about the game, but it sure has some chest-pumping fun along the way.

    Where to watch: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play and others.

  6. ‘It must have swearing…’

    Ken McGill

    Filmmaker, ‘An Impossible Job’ director

    “Mmmmm, tricky”, as the super computer Deep Thought famously said. My top three sports films?

    It has to be an observational film. Historical films are fabulous don’t get me wrong, I’ve made a few myself, but compared to capturing reality, making a film with no ending, as a filmmaker this mode of expression is massively more challenging. Oh, and it must have swearing.

    My number one would be Hoop Dreams.

    One is immersed in the lives of these young men over a five-year period, which underscores the truism that long-term commitments between filmmaker and subject produce more authentic films, and audiences totally get this. Films like this are rare, broadcasters won’t fund films with such long shooting phases. An all time classic.

    Arthur Agee

    Copyright: Getty Images

    My next choice is not a film but Netflix series Drive to Survive. Superb access and high production values, this series at last shows a more accurate angle on the sport.

    I always wanted to make an F1 film, and we came close a couple of times, but Mr Ecclestone always found a way to kibosh it. He’s gone now and the lads at Box to Box are doing a grand job. You know you’re on to a good thing when your contributors swear so freely and creatively.

    Barry Sheene

    Copyright: Getty Images

    And then it’s got to be Barry Sheene: Daytona 1975. Directed by Frank Cvitanovich, my role model. This epitomises the mental and physical toughness of all top athletes.

    His body broken after a 175mph crash, Sheene bounces back like the bad ass he was. A great example of a film changing course dramatically due to ‘real life’ intervention. I had a similar situation with my first Gazza film: supposed to film him playing for Lazio, then along came the 1991 FA Cup final and it was suddenly about if he would ever play again.

    Happy viewing and stay well.

  7. cycling

    A Sunday In Hell (1976, N/A)

    ‘One by one, they falter’

    If Netflix, and their F1 docu-drama Drive To Survive, existed in the seventies maybe this is what it would have looked like. Narrated like a public service education-style film, it focuses on cycling’s toughest one-day race Paris-Roubaix.

    A Sunday In Hell is eccentric to put it mildly, but so are cyclists and their fans – to put it mildly. And it’s this storytelling of the bizarre goings on which make the documenting of this brutal, cobblestoned Easter-time race so compelling. Not to mention the haunting, choral soundtrack. MW

    Key cast: Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck

    Sporting fix: Total. We watch the race unfold across the day, complete with stories surrounding the madness, such as the French printhouse workers who stage two protests, disrupting proceedings by throwing newspaper under the wheels of the riders.

    Artistic licence: The riders themselves come across as eccentric. Not just for the rare steak for breakfast and shouting in Flemish… watch cycling legend Eddy Merckx’s almost psychotic obsession with his bike saddle height.

    Where to watch: Rent or buy on YouTube.

  8. Battle Of The Sexes (2017, 12A)

    ‘I’m gonna put the “show” back in “chauvinism”‘

    In 2020, gender inequality continues to be a problem in the sporting world. Tennis still has many flaws but, with women paid the same as men at the Grand Slams these days, is one of the more equal.

    In 1973, the female players were ridiculed by the sexist male administrators. And, largely, by society. Step forward then Billie Jean King, who sets out to redress the unfair balance.

    With this as the backdrop, former world number one Bobby Riggs – by now a has-been and a hustler – saw his opportunity and with mischief and misogyny in equal measure, goaded King into a money-making exhibition match. Played at the cavernous Houston Astrodrome, it attracted a 90m television audience in the States.

    For King, who knew losing would be a setback for women’s liberation, it became more than tennis. Off the court, she was also fighting another, internal, battle – meeting hairdresser Marilyn Barnett and forming a relationship with her, despite being married to fellow tennis player Larry King. JJ

    Key cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman

    Sporting fix: Missing that pop of the ball being leathered by strings? Luckily there are plenty of on-court scenes. While Emma Stone (King) and Steve Carell (Riggs) don’t quite fill the current void of Serena Williams or Roger Federer, the tennis scenes are actually pretty intense by Hollywood sporting standards.

    Artistic licence: King said the film was 99% accurate. Although she did point out the inaccuracy of one moving scene where a gay tennis kit designer tells her that one day “we won’t have to live in the shadows”.

    “Gay kids didn’t talk to each other about it. Never. No. Not at all,” King said. “It was really shame-based. In 1973, nobody was talking about anything.”

    Where to watch: Rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play, YouTube Movies and others.

  9. Bend It Like Beckham (2002, 12)

    ‘Anyone can cook aloo gobi, but who can bend a ball like Beckham?’

    An 18-year-old girl living in London with Indian Sikh parents who forbid her obsession with David Beckham and love for the beautiful game – a recipe for disaster.

    This is a lot more than a football film.

    Jesminder “Jess” Bhamra and her team-mate Juliette “Jules” Paxton take you on a hilarious journey – two girls who are desperate to play football but have to overcome obstacles of sexism, romance, homophobia and religion. Of course this was nearly 20 years ago so that’s all a thing of the past. Right…?

    It’ll make you laugh, maybe cry and even make you feel young again. ES

    Key cast: Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

    Sporting fix: The action might not be up to Lionel Messi’s standard but there’s plenty of it and Jess really can bend it like Beckham.

    Artistic licence: The artistry is in the football rather than the cinematics but that’s all part of the fun.

    Where can I watch?: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime, Google Play or Apple TV.

  10. ‘Many football films to treasure’

    Brian CLough

    Copyright: Rex Features

    There are plenty of awful football films – Escape To Victory being a prime example – but so many others to treasure.

    Maradona, from the makers of the classic Senna, is a masterpiece chronicling the rise and fall of the man many regard as the greatest to have graced the game.It is a brutal portrayal of his agony and ecstasy.

    There are plenty of other gems elsewhere, such as Goal,the story of England’s 1966 World Cup win, scripted by the legendary journalist Brian Glanville.

    It is a snapshot into the time when games were played at unlikely locations such as Roker Park in Sunderland, Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Park and even at White City, leading to the greatest day in English football history.

    The Damned United is a slightly warmer version of David Peace’s work of “faction” on Brian Clough’s time at Leeds United but the more accurate measure of the great man’s genius comes in I Believe In Miracles, the story of how he picked up Nottingham Forest from the depths of the old second division to make them title winners, then not only winning the European Cup but retaining it.

    It is a moment caught in time, both on and off the pitch, with some glorious Clough moments and anecdotes from those under his charge.

  11. Blades Of Glory (2007, 12)

    ‘We’re gonna dance to one song, and one song only: “Lady Humps” by the Blackeyed Peas.’

    Two rival figure skaters, who are banned after a punch-up on top of the podium and fall on hard times, realise there is nothing in the rules to stop them teaming up and competing as the world’s first all-male pairs team in this Hollywood comedy.

    Protagonists Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) could not be more different – one is a larger-than-life sex addict who learnt to skate in the sewers, the other a former child prodigy who has never had a girlfriend.

    They hate each other but they detest their pairs rivals – scheming siblings Fairchild and Stranz van Waldenberg – even more. Can they overcome their dirty tricks – and get used to holding hands, and other parts of their anatomy – to win gold at the World Winter Sport Games? SO

    Key cast: Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Amy Poehler

    Sporting fix: You’re definitely not watching this to see quadruple axels or triple toe loops. This is all about the fictional ‘Iron Lotus’ – a move so dangerous it has left a trail of decapitations in its wake. Watch out for brief appearances from Olympic figure skating medallists Nancy Kerrigan and Sasha Cohen.

    Artistic licence: A comedy based on a ludicrous premise and starring the hilarious Will Ferrell is never going to be anything other than blissful escapism. Oh, and a lot of laughs.

    Where to watch: Available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play Movies and others.

  12. Borg vs McEnroe (2017, 15)

    ‘You cannot be serious!’

    You know the story, right? Two contrasting personalities going for tennis greatness. The ice of Borg versus the fire of McEnroe.

    Borg – all meditation and superstition – is going for his fifth straight Wimbledon title, with the sweary, brash McEnroe ranked as the best bet to stop him (his constant stream of expletives appears to be solely responsible for the 15 rating…).

    This Swedish-led project aims to explore another side of Borg who, as the order of the title suggests, is the main focus. A side which shows he wasn’t as dissimilar to McEnroe as many think, booting off in his own teenage tantrums before learning to suppress this combustable nature as his career progressed.

    “They say he’s an iceberg, but he’s really a volcano keeping it all in, until . . . boom!” notes Vitas Gerulaitis, McEnroe’s pal and Borg’s former hitting partner. Borg, as those of you with a knowledge of tennis history well know, did keep it all inside at the All England Club and beat McEnroe in their 1980 epic. But here you learn a little more about the Swede’s journey to tennis immortality. Or at least this version of his story. JJ

    John McEnroe serves to Bjorn Borg

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Key cast: Shia LeBeouf, Sverrir Gudnason

    Sporting fix: Grab your Pimms and a punnet of strawberries… because the climactic scene of the 1980 Wimbledon final is the closest you will get to seeing inside Centre Court this year… *sobs*

    Artistic licence: Two men are particularly well placed to provide analysis: the two protagonists.

    McEnroe, as you would expect, was particularly forthright: “A lot of it is not accurate. If they wanted to make me look like a jerk at times, they could have come up with something far better than they came up with, in my humble estimation.” Perhaps it was the wild, wavering wig of his character – played by another superbrat, Shia LaBeouf – which got his goat.

    Borg, depicted by doppelgänger Sverrir Gudnason, as well as his own son Leo in the teenage scenes, was more measured in his analysis. “It was OK. But it is still a fiction movie.”

    Where to watch: Rent or buy from Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play and others.

  13. Breaking Away (1979, 12)

    ‘I didn’t want you to be this miserable. A little bit’s all I asked for.’

    “He’s shaving his legs…” says the confused and somewhat concerned working-class American father of central character Dave – a 19-year-old high school graduate with little chance of work, but dreams of becoming a cyclist in Italy.

    There’s some questionable acting, akin to other cult youth movie classics of the time such as Quadrophenia. But the late Indiana summer sun and a young Dennis Quaid as frustrated heartthrob Mike help give this film a brooding atmosphere. MW

    Key cast: Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid

    Sporting fix: Style over substance, but the ever more defeated Dave wears better merino wool jerseys as the film goes on, and there’s a great scene when he gets a draft from a truck on the freeway – just as Chris Froome used to do growing up in Africa.

    Artistic licence: In almost every scene involving bike racing – much like most football movies – the action is ludicrously sped up because the non-cyclist actors were too pedestrian in real-time. But that’s all part of the charm.

    Where to watch: So rarified you can show off to your friends it’s not even on Netflix. Though you can buy/rent on YouTube and Google Play.

  14. Caddyshack (1980, 15)

    ‘Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion…’

    If you want to know how vile a golf environment might be, how a chocolate bar can clear a swimming pool, how not to prevent rodents from destroying a course and to laugh loud and lots, this is the film for you.

    The setting is an upmarket American country club, “This crumby snobatorium” according to obnoxious businessman Al Czervik played suitably outrageously by Rodney Dangerfield. Everything is over the top; Chevy Chase’s blindfold golf skills, the hypocritical snobbery of Ted Knight’s Judge Smails and a war on rodent “gophers” waged by Bill Murray’s greenskeeper Carl Spackler.

    Although Murray is not the lead role, his wonderful performance steals the show, particularly his commentary on winning the Masters while taking a scythe to carefully tended flower beds. IC

    Key cast: Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield

    Sporting fix: Only if you are in the market for ropey golf swings.

    Artistic licence: It is one giant caricature of 1980’s golf country club life. There are unruly young caddies, including the ambitious hero Danny Noonan, and the snobbish, racist and stuck up members who are faced down by Dangerfield’s hilariously over the top performance. His props include a giant golf bag, with its own blaster stereo system and beer pump. You get the picture.

    Where to watch: Rent or buy on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play and others.

  15. athletics

    Chariots Of Fire (1980, PG)

    ‘Where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within.’

    If you thought Baywatch was responsible for bringing slo-mo beach running to celluloid then think again – it was in fact this British 1980s classic.

    It was Eton-educated director Hugh Hudson who believed getting a bunch of men clad in whites running along to Vangelis’ music on West Sands in St Andrews would be the perfect way to open up his movie and he was absolutely right. In doing so he created a sporting film moment so iconic they even edited Rowan Atkinson into it for the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.

    The film is based on the real-life stories of Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew, who face problems and prejudice as they seek to make the Great Britain athletics squad for the 1924 Olympics.

    It’s an emotional ride told with a British stiff upper-lip. SC

    Key cast: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nigel Havers

    Sporting fix: Very much one for running lovers. There’s running around a university courtyard, running on a beach, running on grass and running on a track. It is quite realistic, too. They even get the actors to run with their heads tilted back, like they used to in the ‘olden days’.

    Artistic licence: It’s very inspiring stuff, but probably best not to dig too deep into the history. There are dramatic changes aplenty to amp up the tension, not least of all the late nature of the switch that sees the deeply-religious Liddell race in the 400m instead because the 100m is on a Sunday.

    Where to watch: Stream on Now TV and Sky Go, rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play, Sky Store and others.

  16. Olympic dreams on the big screen

    Nick Hope

    BBC Sport Olympic correspondent

    Miracle on ice

    Copyright: Getty Images

    While the Olympics are the pinnacle for the world’s best athletes, only a handful of Hollywood’s elite have starred in successful movies about the Games, but those who did helped create a few classics!

    For traditionalists and those interested in the origins of the modern Olympics then look no further than Chariots of Fire, which won an Oscar for best picture in 1982. It’s based around the 1924 Paris Games and is a story of winning against the odds through courage, discipline and character – at a time when the Olympics were strictly for amateurs only.

    At the other end of the spectrum is Olympic Dreams which was actually filmed around the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games. The acting is a little wooden, but it gives you a real sense of what being at an Olympics – in the venues, the athletes’ village and of course their famed food court – is really like.

    If you’re after something a little more thought provoking then try the Netflix film Icarus for a fascinating look at the Russian doping scandal which has rocked the world of Olympic sport in recent years.

    Miracle is another which should be on your hit-list. The 2004 movie retells the ‘miracle on ice’ tale from the 1980 Games where the USA men’s ice hockey team, consisting of mainly college players, defeated arch-rivals and world champions the Soviet Union. In an era of heightened political tensions between the nations, hostilities spilt onto the ice and produced one of the greatest ice hockey games of all-time.

  17. Cool Runnings (1993, PG)

    ‘Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, its bobsled time!’

    One of the most iconic sporting films – and one (sort of) based on a true story.

    Three Jamaican sprinters – who trip up in the qualifiers for the summer Olympics – and one of their friends, a pushcart driver, team up with disgraced former Olympic gold medallist Irving Blitzer to try and compete in the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.

    They practice on dusty hills in their home country and never see ice until the qualifiers. It wouldn’t be a spoiler to say they reach the Games themselves, overcoming various prejudices and rejections along the way. There’d probably be certain questions over some political correctness these days – none of the main actors are even from Jamaica – but it’s all very minor.

    It is a movie that has puts smiles on faces across the globe and one so woven into the fabric of popular culture that former Huddersfield defender Mathias Jorgenson wears the nickname ‘Zanka’, on his shirt, in tribute to one of its characters. EB

    Key cast: Leon Robinson, Doug E. Doug, Rawle D. Lewis, Malik Yoba, John CandySporting fix: There’s a fair amount of sporting action in this one – sprinting, pushcart racing, bobsled practice and then bobsled races. There is even some real life footage of the team racing. It’s hard to say how realistic the bobsled scenes are because this film is probably as much bobsledding as most people have watched in their lives.

    Artistic licence: Oh boy. So much of this film was not true. There was really a Jamaican bobsled team in Calgary 1988 and they were really made of sprinters – albeit from the army and not borderline Olympians – and a pushcart derby proved the inspiration.

    The four main characters, though, are fictional, as is their American coach. There was no hostility from rival teams at the Olympics – they were well received. Also the format for the actual bobsled event is different in real life (four races over two days instead of three races over three days).

    As for the finale? Well, that has been given a good old Hollywood sheen to maximise the emotional impact.

    Where to watch: Stream on Disney+. Rent or buy from several other places like Amazon Prime and Google.

  18. Diego Maradona (2019, 12)

    ‘I asked for a Ferrari and I got a Fiat’

    Boy meets ball, boy escapes slums to become the best player in the world, boy discovers drugs and women, boy falls from grace.

    It’s a tale as old as time.

    Lovingly constructed by Asif Kapadia – maker of the brilliant Senna – this documentary pulls no punches as it charts Diego’s rise and fall.

    It centres on his years at Napoli, winning the first title in the club’s history while at the peak of his on-pitch powers but also swallowed up by the city’s seedier side.

    “When you’re on the pitch, life goes away,” he says at one point. “Problems go away, everything goes away.”

    He couldn’t outrun his problems forever though, spending more time in court than on the field by the end of the film.

    You’ll be transfixed by his talent, astonished and scared by the mania he creates in the city, and you’ll never want to drive in Naples. TR

    Diego Maradona

    Copyright: Rex Features

    Image caption: See a genius at work

    Key cast: Diego Maradona

    Sporting fix: Plenty of on-field action to get your teeth into. Feel every reducer on poor Diego as he gets some real treatment in Serie A. But my word, what a footballer. Best ever? You may revise your original list when you see him drag a pretty average Argentina team to the World Cup and deliver two titles to Napoli.

    Artisitic licence: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but. From the strip club to the Scudetto.

    Where can I watch?: Rent or buy on all platforms, plus available to watch on All4 for a limited period.

  19. Eddie The Eagle (2016, PG)

    ‘Some of you have even soared like an eagle…’

    Michael “Eddie” Edwards was the plucky British ski jumper who captured hearts after his appearance at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

    This heart-warming comedy film loosely depicts his real-life struggle to qualify for the Games against the wishes of the British Olympic bigwigs and the worldwide attention he garnered after his “performances” in the normal and large hill competitions in Canada.

    Taron Egerton plays the bespectacled Eddie and he captures the goofiness and determination of the ski jumper who wanted to prove the doubters wrong. And the soundtrack has a distinct 80s vibe to it too, as musicians from the era including Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet and Midge Ure from Ultravox penned new songs. AT

    Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards

    Copyright: Getty Images

    Key cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman

    Sporting fix: You get to see some real footage from the 1988 Games and there are great camera angles of the Eagle’s hapless training attempts too, which helps one appreciate just how much bravery ski jumping takes.

    Artistic licence: The real Eddie the Eagle said the story had his essence but there was a lot of embellishment – not least casting his coach as an alcoholic former ski jumper who threw away his talent – played by Hugh Jackman. But if you like underdog films, then this is a must-watch for all the family to enjoy.

    Where to watch: Stream on Netflix, rent on Amazon Prime, Sky, YouTube and Apple TV.

  20. Escape To Victory (1981, PG)

    ‘But we can win this…’

    What do you get when you mix Hollywood legends Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, John Huston and Max von Sydow with World Cup winners Bobby Moore, Pele and Ossie Ardiles, a group of Ipswich Town players and a plot about a team of Allied World War II prisoners of war playing an exhibition match against a dastardly German team? You get this stone-cold bank holiday classic.

    Loosely based on much darker real events, Escape to Victory (called simply Victory in the United States) is a cheery, uplifting and occasionally ludicrous take, steered entirely towards lovers of the beautiful game.

    Don’t come looking for an accurate depiction of life in a POW camp. The whole film is a vehicle to propel us towards the big showdown at the conclusion, in which the odds are firmly stacked against our heroes and (without spoiling anything) everyone gets a big moment to cheer. PD

    Sylvester Stallone

    Copyright: Rex Features

    Image caption: Before Friedel, Howard and co there was Captain R. Hatch

    Key cast: Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, Pele, Bobby Moore

    Sporting fix: Pele, Moore, Ossie and the Ipswich lads aren’t here for their acting chops. Thanks to them, the match action is some of the most convincing put to film (which perhaps isn’t saying much), although Sly’s keeping technique needs some work and Caine could probably do with a proper pre-season.

    Artistic licence: This is a boys’ own fantasy with all the narrative elements to boot. The Nazi’s are there to be hissed, the peril present but only implied and our heroes chirpy throughout and stiff of upper lip when needed. Put an afternoon aside and enjoy.

    Where can I watch? Rent or buy from Amazon Prime, Apple TV and others.

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