Following the prolonged success of Liverpool FC across the seventies and eighties, Manchester United became the next dominant force in British football - led in particular by a group of individuals who rose through the youth academy to feature prominently both domestically and internationally. One - David Beckham - has arguably transcended the sport, becoming an icon in his own right. 'The Class Of '92' explores his highs and lows, alongside his fellow precocious talents, amid wider social and cultural changes.
Re-released with an added 28 minutes unseen footage, as well as a new and exclusive interview with former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, 'The Class Of '92' delves deeper into the story behind the players that delivered great success on the field and inspired legions of fans off it. The aforementioned Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, and Phil Neville are the focus, charting their FA Youth Cup beginnings in the early nineties to their triumphant Treble in 1999.
'The Class Of '92' offers in-depth interviews with each of the players, as well as coaching staff, including Ferguson and the hard-nosed academy head Eric Harrison. The camaraderie between the players is still apparent and there are frequent amusing stories - the infamously publicity-shy "little rascal" Paul Scholes, for example, managing to use a teapot as a weapon to scald a fellow player in a particularly sensitive area. It's actually quite heartening to see these multi-millionaires act so normally together. Friends foremost, not footballers.
Directors Ben Turner and Gabe Turner also seek a deeper context - paralleling the emergence of Manchester as a musical hub, notably led by Oasis - and hence bringing on board the likes of local fans Mani of The Stone Roses andDanny Boyle, whose 1996 'Trainspotting' film was a global hit. Even Tony Blair pops up. Unfortunately. But understandably - these fledging footballers bringing a renewed sense of optimism that matched New Labour's promise.
Former team-mate-turned-philosopher-of-sorts Eric Cantona is also on hand to offer curious tidbits, but it is his compatriot Zenedine Zidane who provides these players with the greatest respect - especially Scholes. Beckham is perhaps most deserving of respect however, as his vilification following the 1998 World Cup is covered. To come back from such abuse demonstrates a steel, quite probably shared by his peers. It's a shame though that we hardly hear from those who didn't quite make the grade but 'The Class Of '92' has enough to appeal to an audience wider than just United fans.
'The Class Of 92 (Extended Collector's Edition)' is out today on Blu-ray and DVD, through Universal Pictures.