7 Italy soccer films: Italy = soccer (and soccer movies)

Italy wouldn’t be Italy if it didn’t have soccer (football). It is not surprising that Italy soccer movies are a specific genre. They were especially fashionable in the 1980s.

Two statistic facts to start with to demonstrate that film and soccer are written on Italy’s skin:

  • Italy has been World Cup winner four times in history. Only Brazil does better with 5 World Cups.
  • Italy has won a total of 11 Oscar statuettes (Academy Awards) and received 28 nominations in the category ‘Best International Film’. Number two is France with 9 wins. Not to mention people like Vittorio De Sica and Federico Fellini: each had four Oscars on the mantle.

7 Italy soccer movies

Italy soccer movies, however, don’t often fall into the “best film” category. Most are humorous, or aree comedic intended films meant for the domestic market. Still, a few have international class.

We’ve picked seven Italy soccer movies. Not all of them can be seen outside Italy’s borders, unfortunately. You can try some of our links below or do a good internet search.

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Sunday Heroes

  • Original title: Gli eroi della domenica
  • Director: Mario Camerini
  • Leading Actor: Marcello Mastroianni
  • Year: 1953
  • Why to watch: To witness that good and bad soccer values are of all times, early role of Mastroianni
  • Platform: Amazon, Infinity+

“The work that denounces and condemns the shady speculations on the game of soccer has positive intentions. (…) The story is somewhat artificial: but the expert direction, the skillful editing, the insertion of collateral episodes, the effective interpretation make the film interesting.”

That is the somehow generous 1953 review of ‘Segnalazioni cinematografiche’, a catholic film magazine. This (comedy) movie revolves around a soccer player (Raf Vallone) on the eve of an important match, with ingredients love & integrity, and is rather clichéd. Marcello Mastroianni is not yet the well-known actor of the 1960s, and is cast in a small role.

italy soccer films
Mastroianni in 1970 Via: Flickr

Trainer on the Beach

  • Original title: L’allenatore nel pallone
  • Director: Sergio Martino
  • Leading Actor: Lino Banfi
  • Year: 1984
  • Why to watch: Banfi bundles in one all the peculiarities and egocentrism of the trainer
  • PlatformAmazon/ Infinity (in Italy) 

L’allenatore nel pallone is certainly not a masterpiece. But the movie about a trainer who succeeds among a thousand difficulties to maintain in the highest football league, still holds up in some quality. Banfi, a comedic actor famous in Italy who plays the trainer, has a few nice one-liners.

Most Italians aged between 50 and 70 have seen (or heard of) this famous Italy football film.

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Eccezzziunale… veramente (Reallii uutstaaaanding)

  • Original title: Eccezzziunale… veramente
  • Director: Carlo Vanzina
  • Leading Actor: Diego Abatantuono
  • Year: 1982
  • Why to watch: Abatantuono (known for the 1982 Oscar winning film Mediterraneo) in one of his funniest films
  • Platform: RaiPlay (streaming service of the Italian state TV) 

Diego Abatantuono, an Italian comedian who may also be known abroad for the 1982 Oscar winning film Mediterraneo, is in this film at his best. He plays three characters, each one a fan, of one of the country’s three major soccer clubs.

The title is a corrupted version of the pronunciation ‘really extraordinary’, but pronounced with a thick South Italian accent.

The leading character wins the lotto and thinks he finally can escape the yoke of his girlfriend and mother-in-law.

Ultimo minuto (‘Last minute’)

  • Original title: Ultimo minuto
  • Director: Pupi Avati
  • Leading Actor: Ugo Tognazzi
  • Year: 1987
  • Why to watch: Quality film with Avati and Tognazzi
  • Platform: really sorry, but we didn’t hit a goal

After devoting thirty years to coaching a provincial team that plays in the major league, the trainer is sidelined by the arrival of a new president. The story is quite realistic: in Italian soccer (and not only over there) it’s all about the egos of the owner and the trainer. 

The trainer is personalized by Ugo Tognazzo (1922-1990) in one of his last roles. There is also a small part for Diego Abatantuono, the comic actor who is soccer crazy in real life. The dramatisc-comic film stands out in the 1980s, partly because of the quality director Avati and Tognazzi participate in

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One man up

  • Original title: L’uomo in più
  • Director: Paolo Sorrentino
  • Leading Actor: Toni Servillo
  • Year: 2001
  • Why to watch: First Sorrentino
  • PlatformMUBI

This is not a classic soccer film, but one of the protagonists is a footballer in any case and we also see him in action. The film is also in this list of 7 Italy soccer films because this is the first feature-length film by Paolo Sorrentino, one of the best directors of the moment.

The main actor, the non-soccer player in this film, already has traits of Jep Gambardella. It’s all about this man in ‘La Grande Bellezza’ (2013 Oscar winner).

RELATED: La Grande Bellezza is on our top list of Italian films to watch via streaming.

Speravo de morì prima (‘I hoped to die sooner’)

  • Original title: Speravo de morì prima 
  • Director: Luca Ribuoli
  • Leading Actor: Pietro Casttellito
  • Year: 2021 (6 episodes)
  • Why to watch: The actor who impersonates the footballer plays the real one off the field
  • Platform: Sky Go, Now TV, Amazon (dvd)

The film is about the last difficult years of Francesco Totti. He is not Italy’s best ever player, but enjoys a popularity in Rome that is unlimited. Totti is enacted by Pietro Castellitto, a young actor/director with a great future. We also spot Gianmarco Tognazzi (son of Ugo Tognazzi, see ‘Ultimo minuto’) in this TV series, not to mention veteran players Alessandro Del Piero and Andrea Pirlo, who play themselves. That shouldn’t be too difficult.

RELATED: The director is Luca Ribuoli. He is known for the film The Mafia Kills Only in Summer, one of the better mafia films of this century

A trigger to watch the film: the real Totti (right) with Castellitto

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  • Original title: Ultras
  • Director: Francesco Lettieri
  • Leading Actor: Aniello Arena
  • Year: 2020
  • Why to watch: Modern look at supporter behavior in Naples, a crime film location on the rise (Gomorrah and others)
  • Platform: Netflix

‘Ultras’ tells with an almost documentary style but at the same time epic momentum, the complex and jagged world of organized fanship that revolves around the San Paolo stadium of Naples. Lead actor is Aniello Arena as he performs the different souls of the fans between clashes and identity crisis.

Aniello has a remarkable history: he was a member of the Camorra (Naples mafia), and was sentenced to life imprisonment. After obtaining the regime of semi-freedom he became a professional actor and debuted in the world of cinema in the film ‘Reality’ by Matteo Garrone.

RELATED: Read more about the camorra, the Neapolitan mafia

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Ewout is an Italy expert who has written thousands of articles for Dutch media as a correspondent and has published 10 books on wide-ranging topics such as Rome, the Vatican, Tuscany, Italian brands and Italian women.

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