What about that opening ceremony! Who wants a golden boot when you have massive flipping robot legs instead? It’s the Brazilian World Cup 2014, so football is now happening. Lots of it. There’s about three or four games scheduled per day which, including analysis and rubbish BBC mini-docs and goal montages to the tune of Kasabian, will probably amount roughly ten or twelve hours of the beautiful game being shown on your telly – daily. If all this isn’t enough, you can bet your bottom pound that the bookies will be unleashing a veritable piñata (that’s Brazilian, right?) of odds and ends for you to tackle by volleying your money at it until the economy explodes. Finally, if non-stop watching, betting and boozing STILL aren’t enough, look no further than the colourful world of film for your sporty drama. There’s a host of ‘soccer’ films out there; here are five that score pretty high on my list. Goal II will not be on here. And if they made a Goal III, just kill me.
5. Goal! The Dream Begins (2005)
A guilty pleasure if there ever was one. Santiago Munez goes from playing in a dusty Mexican carpark using cardboard for shin pads to the ultimate job as a substitute for Newcastle United that sits on the sidelines because he has asthma. But then -who’d have thought it possible? – he gets his shot at first team glory. Is he going to score the goal? Is he though? Oh my goodness gracious me, he just scored the goal! MAJISTERIAL! AND HE GOT A FIT WIFE NOW AS WELL! G-G-G-G-G-G-G-G-G-G-G-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLA!!!
Here’s the trailer for the film. Something seems to be slightly off about it, but it’s hard to say what.
4. Mean Machine (2001)
Vinnie Jones did the football at Wimbledon. Then he did the gangster in Lock, Stock. His career had seemingly reached its apex in every corner. By a stroke of genius, film director Barry Skolnick had the game changing idea to remake The Longest Yard, an American Football film starring Burt Reynolds from 1974, except translate it to footie and have Vinnie Jones playing the lead man and finally linking together his two separate but equally impressive talents into one role. Jones plays Danny Meehan, a disgraced ex-pro sent to prison to PHWOAR BLIMEY AV IT YOOOU MUG! Him and Jason Statham then have to play the screws A-team for some reason or other, and they tear up the pitch with a fusion of tekkers and devastatingly dangerous fouling. Danny Dyer holds it together in midfield. Jason Flemyng commentates.
3. City of God (2002)
Alright alright, so football isn’t exactly the main drive behind the Rio set epic; it’s more concerned with social commentary and childhood relationships told on a citywide, Godfather esque scope, homing in on the poverty stricken youths of the slums surrounding that sunniest, sexiest of cities. City of God is the most highly overrated foreign film of the last twenty years, but it is still bloody good and does have kids playing soccer when they aren’t pick-pocketing or kneecapping, which is why it qualifies on the list. The film is also pretty damn relevant to the world’s biggest tournament: it should be made available on all planes travelling to the former Portugese capital city for the educational purpose of warning them about getting their wallets and kidneys stolen by the peasants that are as you read this descending upon tourists like money-starved locusts.
2. Escape to Victory (1981)
Michael Caine, Sylsvester Stallone and Pele in a POW camp. What more do you want? Oh, you want to see them play football against their nasty Nazi captors? You’ve got it. The reasons behind the final match don’t really matter, but rest assured that the Allied lads give Max Von Sydow’s First XI a thumping to make the Axis’ defeat at Kursk look like an afternoon game of Risk.
1. Next Goal Wins (2014)
Next Goal Wins is the only documentary on this list and by far the most inspiring film an aspiring footballer could ever watch. American Samoa are the worst national squad in the world: they once suffered a 31-0 defeat at the feet of Australia, and in two decades have tallied up just two goals. Thomas Rongen, an uncompromising Dutchman who once played against George Best, is loaned in to lend a helping hand and coach the team to an at least dignified level of footballing quality. If you want your child to maybe play at the World Cup but recognise that the chances of him possessing the natural talent and physical makeup required to get him into the national squad of a country with a half decent league are slim to none, have him be born in American Samoa.