On the night of 26 May 1999, six boyhood friends collapsed to the Nou Camp turf in Barcelona with the realisation that they had passed irrevocably into the folklore of one of the biggest football clubs in the world.
The Class of 92 follows the road to that moment, which at first glance appeared to be a tale all about dramatic escapism, but on closer inspection, thanks to this intimate portrait by Gabe and Ben Turner, was much more about half a dozen teenage pals fulfilling the very wildest of dreams.
Ryan Giggs, Phil and Gary Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt were all boyhood Man United fans, and each and every one of them ended up a European Cup winner for the club they adored.
Thanks to that fact alone, the filmmakers didn’t have to work too hard on conjuring up a compelling narrative.
For the most part – excluding a couple of toe-curling cameos from the Stone Roses’ Manny and Tony Blair – they just let the stars do the talking.
And where the set-piece interviews with Becks and Co are good, the Turners’ masterstroke is to let the players loose on each other.
At dinner, as the six prompt and probe each other with tales of Remember When, it’s like eavesdropping on a school reunion.
Inside the Old Trafford dressing room – where Scholes and Beckham ride Gary Neville for his supposed lack of talent – we get to see a flash of what it must have been like in the glory days for these teenage tyros.
Certainly there was wit, and a barrel-load of boundary-pushing laughs. Stories of ‘Scholesy’ in the tumble-dryer, ‘Butty’ burning Peter Schmeichel’s privates and ‘Becks’ performing sexual acts on a Clayton Blackmore calendar help to illuminate the bond these boys have formed, and while Phil Neville admits that this kind of caper wouldn’t be stood for today, they all fervently agree that all this tomfoolery helped add steel to their talent.
It’s no surprise that these rose-tinted reminiscences pack the most emotional punch in the film. After all, isn’t this exactly what we do with our oldest friends? It just so happens that these friends have a story to top the lot.
Sandwiched amidst the nostalgia are two surprise comic turns, from Giggs (an impressive David Beckham impersonation) and Scholes (drier than a Sauvignon Blanc), along with a tender tribute from youth team coach Eric Harrison.
It’s in Harrison’s understated testimony that we get a hint of what propelled this special six to the heights they achieved. He’s patriarchal and proud, but above all there’s a quiet humility to the man who effectively supplied more than half of arguably Manchester United’s greatest ever team.
In that, Class of 92’s greatest strength is revealing a humanity in the heroes we thought we knew, instilling yet greater pathos in a story we thought couldn’t get any better.