Goal! (film)

Goal! (also known as Goal! The Dream Begins in the United States) is a 2005 sports drama film directed by Danny Cannon and starring Kuno Becker as Santiago Munez, a young man with a rough background who is offered the chance to trial with one of England's top football clubs. The film was produced by Mike Jefferies, Matt Barrelle, and Mark Huffam from a script written by Adrian Butchart, Mike Jefferies, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais and distributed by Buena Vista Pictures, a subsidiary label of Disney. It was made with full co-operation from FIFA, which is one of the reasons why actual teams and players are used throughout the film. The $50m deal that was struck between the producers and Adidas was, at the time the biggest ever between a corporate brand and a film production.[3]

Goal! The Dream Begins
U.S. theatrical poster
Directed byDanny Cannon
Produced byMike Jefferies
Matt Barrelle
Mark Huffam
Screenplay byAdrian Butchart
Mike Jefferies
Dick Clement
Ian La Frenais
Story byMike Jefferies
Adrian Butchart
StarringKuno Becker
Alessandro Nivola
Marcel Iureş
Stephen Dillane
Music byGraeme Revell
CinematographyMichael Barrett
Edited byChris Dickens
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • 30 September 2005 (2005-09-30) (UK)
  • 12 May 2006 (2006-05-12) (U.S.)
Running time
118 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$33 million[1]
Box office$27.6 million[2]


Santiago Muñez, a Mexican immigrant living in a barrio section of Los Angeles, is a skilled footballer who plays for his local team on weekends and dreams of playing professionally. The son of a gardener, Santiago lives with his father, Hernan, his grandmother, Mercedes, and his younger brother, Cesar. He works as a busboy in a Chinese restaurant while also helping with his father's gardening business for a living. Due to his poverty and the fact that he plays solely for a club made up of Hispanics from a local car wash, he feels his chances of making it as a pro are slim, until one day, Santiago is noticed by Glen Foy, a former Newcastle United player. Glen now works as a mechanic in England, but still maintains ties to his old team. Foy arranges to get Santiago a trial with Newcastle United, who have recently signed talented new player Gavin Harris. Needing to get to England, Santiago begins to save his money in an old shoe, but his plans are brought to a stop after his father finds the money and uses it to buy a truck which would allow he and Santiago to start their own business, believing that Santiago's dreams of playing in England are hopeless. With his dream seemingly over, Santiago returns to work for his father, until his grandmother gives him an envelope containing money and a plane ticket to London, telling him she sold her jewellery to pay for the ticket. Santiago reluctantly accepts and soon departs for England before his father is able to find out, arriving in London the next day.

After arriving in London, Santiago tells Glen that he is in England, who warmly welcomes Santiago to his home in Newcastle and takes him to the tryout. Santiago is not welcomed by the other players, particularly reserve player Hughie McGowan, who spends the whole trial roughly tackling him , leading to an unimpressive performance by Santiago, but Glen convinces the team's manager that Santiago needs a month's trial to show his full potential. The manager agrees, and Santiago is signed to a one-month contract. During a medical, Santiago lies about his asthma to club nurse, Roz Harmison, fearing it will damage his chances of being signed. Despite being bullied by teammate McGowan, Santiago becomes good friends with Jamie Drew, another player signed on a trial basis from Tranmere Rovers. Santiago begins to adapt to the English game, and a reserve match at the end of the month will determine his signing on a full-time basis. Before the game, as Santiago secretly tries to use his inhaler, McGowan knocks it out of his hands and destroys it, leading to an asthma flare-up during the game which prevents Santiago from playing at 100%. After another disappointing performance, the team lets him go. On his way to the airport, Santiago meets Gavin Harris, who himself is late for training with the reserves, a punishment for being late for training with the first team. Harris finds out what has happened and makes Santiago explain it to the manager. The manager allows Santiago to stay, provided he gets treatment for his asthma. Santiago gets a contract for the reserve team and moves in with Gavin, and despite their differences (Santiago a focused and determined player, Harris a playboy more focused on women than football), the two begin to form a friendship. After a series of impressive performances in the reserves, he is brought into the first team as a substitute in a match against Fulham. During the game, he wins a penalty, taken and scored by Gavin to win them the match. Meanwhile, unknown to anyone else in his family, Santiago's father watches the match on TV in the US and leaves the bar a proud father. Despite the victory, the manager informs Santiago that his weakness is that he does not pass the ball off enough. That night, he and Gavin go out partying to celebrate. A controversial picture of the two, both drunk, winds up in national tabloid The Sun, causing great anger from the manager. His friendship with Harris begins to crumble, and at the same time, Jamie suffers a career-ending injury that only causes Santiago additional grief. Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, Santiago's father dies of a heart attack. Devastated, Santiago plans to return home, but while in the airport waiting for his flight back to Los Angeles, he decides not to go and reports back to training. Believing he may not make it to the starting eleven, he goes to St James' Park and practices till late in the evening, and is informed by the manager that he has been selected to play against Liverpool F.C.. On match day, Gavin puts Newcastle into the lead. Before half-time, Liverpool makes a comeback with two goals, from Igor Bišćan and Milan Baroš. In the final minutes of injury time, Santiago assists Gavin in scoring the equaliser by passing the ball to him, to make it 2–2. However, a draw will not be enough to earn Newcastle a place in the next season's UEFA Champions League. Minutes before the end of the game, Gavin is tripped and Newcastle gain a free kick, which, despite the friction between the two, Gavin gives to Santiago, who scores and Newcastle win 3–2. Glen reveals to Santiago that his grandmother is trying to call. She mentions that his father did watch his first match against Fulham, after learning this from a fellow supporter. Santiago shouts to Glen that his father saw him play and was proud of him before he died. Glen replies: "He's probably watching you right now." The film ends with Santiago shedding tears of joy.


Cameo appearances


The musical score for Goal! was composed by Graeme Revell, who previously collaborated with director Danny Cannon on Phoenix (1998).

A soundtrack album was released on Oasis' Big Brother Recordings label and contains three Oasis songs unavailable elsewhere, including the exclusive Noel Gallagher song "Who Put the Weight of the World on My Shoulders?". The soundtrack also contains a re-recorded version of Oasis' "Cast No Shadow" with Noel Gallagher on vocals and produced by Unkle. Dave Sardy, a producer of two Oasis albums, also contributed a hard-edged remix of their song "Morning Glory" for inclusion on the soundtrack. The soundtrack also marked the full return of alternative rock group Happy Mondays with their song "Playground Superstar". A music video for the song was made to promote the soundtrack.

  1. "Playground Superstar" – Happy Mondays (exclusive track)
  2. "Who Put the Weight of the World on My Shoulders?" – Oasis (exclusive track)
  3. "Leap of Faith" – Unkle featuring Joel Cadbury (exclusive track)
  4. "Human Love" – Dirty Vegas
  5. "Morning Glory" (Dave Sardy Mix) – Oasis (exclusive track)
  6. "This Is the Land" – The Bees
  7. "Cast No Shadow" (Unkle Beachhead Mix) – Oasis (exclusive track)
  8. Score: "That's That" – Graeme Revell
  9. "Club Foot" – Kasabian
  10. "Look Up" – Zero 7
  11. "Wet! Wet! Wet!" – Princess Superstar
  12. "Blackout" – Unkle
  13. "Will You Smile Again for Me" – ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
  14. Score: "Premiership Medley" – Graeme Revell


Roger Ebert awarded it three stars out of four and praised the film, calling it "surprisingly effective". He went on to say, "I was surprised, then, to find myself enjoying the movie almost from the beginning. It had some of the human reality of Gregory Nava's work in movies like 'Mi Familia' and the PBS series 'American Family.' "[4]

Ebert singled out Kuno Becker's lead performance in the film and praised it, saying "The starring performance by Kuno Becker is convincing and dimensional and we begin to care for him" and "Kuno Becker, a Mexican star of films and TV and three English-language films little released in America, has not only star quality but something more rare, likability. He makes us want his character to succeed."

Variety.com called it "a slickly mounted slice of can-do nonsense";[5] BBC Film, labelled it a "fantasy";[6] and UEFA Perspective called it brilliant.[7]

The film scored moderately at the box office, making $27.6 million[8] in cinemas, but by the time it reached DVD, huge sales made it the gold standard for sports films in the UK, many European territories and South America.[9] It is still shown regularly on the BBC whenever there is a major tournament.

In 2018, SPORTbible voted Goal! the "Greatest Football Film of All Time".[10]


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