Next Goal Wins review: What the beautiful game’s about
With the game of football gradually becoming more about the money, the diving and the prima donna attitudes of the star players, it’s sometimes hard to remember why it was ever called ‘the beautiful game’. Next Goal Wins goes a long way to reminding you.
In 2001, following a record 31-0 defeat to Australia and being ranked bottom in the FIFA world rankings, the minnows of American Samoa are the laughing-stock of international football. A decade later they are still rooted to the bottom, not winning a single match and scoring twice in seventeen games. Things are not looking good.
With qualification for the 2014 World Cup looming, they place an ad for a new coach to improve their chances. They have one application. Enter Dutch madman Thomas Rongen.
What follows is one of the most surprisingly touching and moving documentaries you’ll see this year. As the rag-tag bunch (including the game’s only transgender player, and Nicky Salapu – the goalkeeper who let in the 31 goals) go through the rigorous and frantic sessions under Rongen, we see the group gradually grow in confidence and ability. There are some truly wonderful and heartbreaking moments and Rongen’s personal story will especially pull the heart strings.
Everyone should watch this film, whether fan, non-fan, player or coach. This is what the beautiful game’s about.