‘Captains of the World’ provides never before seen glimpses into the footballing world

‘Captains of the World’ is a docu-series offering interviews and personal insights of footballs greatest. Picture: Supplied

‘Captains of the World’ is a docu-series offering interviews and personal insights of footballs greatest. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 11, 2024


The 2022 FIFA World Cup final was arguably one of the best football matches ever played since the inception of the globe’s most popular sport.

The footballing gods overseeing the match between Argentina - who are always under immense pressure to win the tournament - as well as France - the then current World Cup holders - managed to include almost every aspect for this match to be recorded in the sporting history books.

There was Lionel Messi, arguably the best footballer to ever walk this planet and who, at 35, was possibly playing his last ever World Cup match.

The Argentinian legend had won it all during his breathtaking career, but it was the World Cup - the most prestigious of all trophies - that has always evaded him over the decades.

Lionel Messi is one of the legends features in ‘Captains of the World’. Picture: Supplied

Then there was Kylian Mbappe, a generational talent who is ready to take Messi’s place as the world’s best.

The match starts with the entire world watching. Messi scores two goals but Mbappe scores a hat-trick. The game goes into extra time but the stalemate between the two teams remains deadlocked. There is tension, conflict and even on field bust-ups.

And with the world holding their collective breaths, the final heads into penalties, and after all the drama, the final ends with Messi sobbing and on his knees, as he gives thanks to the heavens for finally winning the trophy.

“My dream was to win at least a title with the national team, and in the end I was lucky to win all the titles. I couldn't ask for more,” Messi said in the documentary.

These emotional, nail-biting and history making scenes form part of “Captains of the World”, a Netflix documentary series which chronicles the behind-the-scenes events of Qatar's 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The six-episode docu-series, which was released in late December on the streaming platform, in collaboration with FIFA+, takes football fans behind the scenes of their beloved game, in a way like never before.

Apart from interviews and personal insights from the likes of Messi and Mbappe, other footballing captains which are featured include Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, Thiago Silva and Virgil van Dijk.

There are also appearances from Neymar, Luka Modric and Jude Bellingham.

The series also interviews their families and teammates, in order to give viewers a unique perspective on what it is like to represent your nation under intense pressure, at the biggest sporting event in the world.

Meanwhile, the sports documentary also includes insights from some of the world’s biggest and best national team managers, as well as sports journalists and other football role players.

“Captains of the World” also pays tribute to the legends who had passed away, including Maradona, Pele and Senegalese icon, Papa Bouba Diop.

But much of the focus of the series is actual happenings of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, from the group stages, all the way up to the final.

There is also footage of the players prior to the tournament, which is played every four years, as well as content from the training ground, the locker rooms, and the matches themselves.

This gives the watching world a glimpse into just what it takes to compete at such a high footballing level, as well as the many sacrifices these stars had to make along the way.

It also reveals how just one single error can undo years of hard work, and how the smallest of margins define a football match.

And while the sport is usually played at a frantic pace, the segments from “Captains of the World” are much more relaxed - giving the football stars, their managers and other role players, the time to properly articulate their emotions at such a crucial point in their careers.

Meanwhile, lesser known teams, including those which have a rich footballing history and those who experienced incredible success during the World Cup, are also featured.

This includes the Moroccan national team, who shocked the world when they made it to the semi-finals, after kicking out Spain and Portugal from the tournament World Cup, potentially ending Ronaldo’s World Cup dreams.

“Captains of the World” also shows the brotherhood shared between the players, who are away from their loved ones during the tournament.

The emotional aspect of the documentary also continues with Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

His national team captain Simon Kjaer was instrumental in saving the midfielder’s life when he pushed aside other players during the match against Finland, and immediately placed Eriksen into the recovery position.

Kjaer also worked to stop Eriksen from swallowing his tongue and then took the life-saving decision to start giving CPR on his stricken friend.

“I don't know if I would still be playing today if Christian had… if it had turned out differently,” he said in the documentary.” “It changed my life.”

∎ “Captains of the World” is streaming on Netflix.