One of the major benefits of being stuck indoors for weeks and months on end this year has been the chance to binge-watch loads and loads of Netflix and Amazon Prime.
There were a plethora of brilliant and insightful sporting documentaries which aired in 2020, and here’s a rundown of our favourites should you fancy delving into a new series during the festive period…
Michael Jordan is one of the greatest sportsmen of all-time, although for an entire generation the NBA Hall of Famer was perhaps better known for the incredibly popular Nike sneakers in his name than for anything he did on the basketball courts during the eighties and nineties.
However, The Last Dance beautifully retold the story of his gloriously successful career shooting hoops, with unprecedented behind-the-scenes footage documenting all of the many highs and lows.
Everyone will have their opinions on who the greatest basketball player of all time will be, whether it be Jordan, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, but this documentary ensures everybody knows the full effect Jordan’s every move had on the sport as one of the first global superstars. The Netflix docuseries proved a massive hit and it’s no surprise it averaged 5.6 million views for each of the 10 episodes.
Jose Mourinho has always been box office. You can go back to well before he walked through the doors of the Stamford Bridge press conference room as the ‘Special One’ for proof, with his spell at Porto and his previous role assisting Sir Bobby Robson at Barcelona having shown signs of his unique character.
So when he was announced as the new Tottenham manager, replacing Mauricio Pochettino, Amazon must have been rubbing their hands together thinking about the boost to their ongoing fly-on-the-wall access to all things Spurs in the 2019-20 season.
Whether it was Jose’s handling of a determined Danny Rose demanding more game-time or his man-management skills as he looked to help Harry Kane and Co lift that elusive piece of silverware, it all made for captivating viewing.
Such access in the dressing room will forever keep a football fan hooked, and Jose certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Speaking with searing honesty, some of the most successful Paralympians share their stories of how sport helped them overcome tragedy and personal setbacks in Rising Phoenix. Athletes including Team GB’s Johnnie Peacock and wheelchair fencer Beatrice Vio detail their journeys to medal success at the games, with stunning imagery and footage adding to the storytelling.
“There isn’t anything else in the world that can bring you back from the darkest places than sport,” summed up Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, in the inspiring documentary. It’s the perfect line for a piece which celebrates major achievements emanating from the most difficult moments.
Rising Phoenix makes you think about the adversity others go through, not just to reach the top but also to fight for a level playing field in everyday life.
Jose Mourinho played another starring role in this Netflix hit this year. The Playbook, the documentary of which LeBron James is an executive producer, provides plenty of insight if you’ve ever wondered just what makes the most successful coaches on earth tick.
From Doc Rivers’ use of the Zulu term ‘Ubuntu’ to inspire his Boston Celtics players, to Patrick Mouratoglou’s belief that you should never be afraid to be fired as he explains how he got even more out of Serena Williams’ world-class talent, this is a must-watch if you are especially interested in the psychology of sport.
If not, you’ll still be highly entertained by Mourinho’s retelling of a story involving him climbing inside a laundry basket to avoid UEFA officials so he could give his Chelsea side a Champions League team-talk despite being banned.
This series following Diego Maradona as he takes charge of Mexican side Dorados de Sinaloa has become more poignant following the football legend’s passing in November. The Argentine enigma arriving in the drug capital of Mexico to manage a team sat marooned at the bottom of the nation’s second division was always going to make for entertaining viewing.
“It’s like taking a diabetic to a candy store,” said one fan on a radio phone-in programme in the city of Culiacan, and interviews with Dorados president Jose Antonio Nunez show a man living the dream, working closely with one of the sport’s best ever.
“Before the arrival of Maradona the biggest news out of Sinaloa state was the escape of [Mexican drug lord] ‘El Chapo’ Guzman,” Nunez explained. “I can’t help that El Chapo was born here, what I can do is make people change how they think of us.”
We suggest you tune in to see just how things panned out. Maradona, as was ever thus, proved to be a magnet for the camera, you just cannot take your eyes off him as he attempts to restore a faltering club’s fortunes.