Footie and the flicks have, down the years, had a relationship best described as lacklustre. Let’s face it, a game between Accrington Stanley and Crawley Town has more passion (and certainly more grass-roots realism) than the alleged soccer in movies such as Escape to Victory (1981) or When Saturday Comes (1996) although to be fair, more recently, there have been the excellent Looking for Eric (2009) and The Damned United (2009).
There’s a fair chance that the acting on display in your average Saturday kick-about is better, too – but Goal! (2005) by director Danny Cannon (I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998), and, erm, Judge Dredd (1995)) at least made the effort to change all that.
Kuno Becker stars as Santiago Munez, a young Mexican football-obsessive living in Los Angeles. His dad doesn’t approve of his obsession with the beautiful game, but, when he’s talent-spotted by former Newcastle striker Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane) who’s on holiday in LA, the big-time (well, Newcastle United) may beckon. As Foy says: “I’ve spent muddy days watching young lads beat the hell out of each other. But once in a while, there’s one that comes along and lifts your heart.”
It’s based on a true story, of course – and some of the former hottest representatives from the world of football also appear in the movie, including David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Raul, and Newcastle United’s then captain Alan Shearer.
The cinema has given audiences scores of beloved, inspiring films about sports, from Rocky (1976) to Raging Bull (1980). Producers Mike Jefferies and Matt Barrelle wondered why Hollywood hadn’t yet spawned a great football movie: “We’ve seen a myriad of tremendously successful films that use sport as a backdrop-films about baseball, basketball, golf, you name it-and it just seemed incredible to me that the world’s biggest sport-and, in fact, the biggest form of content on television today-has never been the subject of a decent movie,” said Jefferies when the film was first released.
Judge for yourself, but this mostly scores for me – took me a while to catch up with it, but the combination of Becker’s winning performance and the (for a change) genuinely credible footy action on display make this perfect for a pre- or post-big match film on a Saturday.