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Next Goal Wins


Stars: Documentary

Director: Mike Brett, Steve Jamison

A thoroughly enjoyable documentary, and with some wonderful South Pacific scenery too. The tiny island of American Samoa were, in 2011, the world's worst soccer team. They had never won a competitive game and almost never scored a goal.

We join them 10 years after they were humiliated 31-0 by Australia, but they are still losing games by cricket scores. In despair, an appeal is made to the US Soccer Federation, who loan them maverick Dutch coach Thomas Rongen.

Rongen, a hard-driving, hard-cursing man, finds himself faced with 'by far the lowest standard' of football he has ever seen. But he sets about training the islanders for the world Cup in Brazil - and falls in love with their way of life and the island in the process.

it would be unfair to reveal the results of the American Samoans' qualifying games, but, win, lose or draw, this cannot fail to be an inspiring story, or bring a lump to the throat. Definitely one of the documentaries of the year.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Icon. Colour (unspecified).
97 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 20 Dec 2014