Next Goal Wins (DVD)

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Next Goal Wins (DVD)

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Review of "Next Goal Wins (DVD)"

published 19/07/2017 | thedevilinme
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Pro Sweet and heartwarming
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"'This is the beautiful game living up to its name'..."

Next Goal Wins (DVD)

Next Goal Wins (DVD)

Star – The American Samoan football team
Genre – documentary
Run Time – 97 minutes
Certificate – 15
Country – USA
Amazon – £3.04 DVD
Awards – 2 Wins & 2 Nominations
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Next Goal Wins is the true story of the American Samoa journey from officially the worst FIFA ranked international football team in the world to respectability, their 31-0 thrashing in 2001 to Australia the worse ever defeat for a FIFA registered national team, the film opening with every single goal through archive footage. Their only win in international football was back in the 1960s when they beat the obscure island nation team ‘Wallie and Futura’ 1-0 in the 1963 South Pacific Games. They have a minus 298 goal average to date scoring just 28 goals in their 53-year history. 36-year-old Veteran goalkeeper Nicky Salapu had conceded many of those goals.

The film picks up ten years after the 31-0 thrashing and the beginning of the qualification for the 2014 World Cup Finals. They had never scored a goal, let alone won a World Cup match going into their regional group and hopes were low. After another terrible South Pacific Games of no defeats and no goals The American Samoa Football Federation had decided enough was enough and to get a coach in who could add some professionalism, fitness and discipline to the team, that man being Thomas Rongen, a chain smoking lean and bossy buzz cut Dutch coach who had managed 14 teams in and around the United States. It proved to be an extraordinary story and journey for the team, and the viewer’s emotions.


Thomas Rongen ... Football Trainer American Samoa Team
Jaiyah Saelua ... Herself
Nicky Salapu ... Himself
Gene Ne'emia ... Himself
Larry Mana'o ... Himself
Rawlston Masaniai ... Himself
Charles Uhrle ….Himself


Its 2011 and American Samoa are still known as the team who lost 31-0 to the Socceroos. They haven’t won a match since. The island see World Cup qualification progress as a way to get back their pride and appeal for help to US Soccer. The Americans have a strong soccer ties to the island as they have a big naval airbase there where many of the team work and so agree to some funding, the plan for the American Samoan Soccer Federation to spend most of that money on an experienced coach, the job advertised in the US. There is only one applicant, 55-year-old Thomas Rongen, an journeyman US coach from the professional American Soccer scene and U20 US national team. He recently lost his daughter in a car crash and sees the job as the chance to give something back to football and maybe achieve something very special for the island, population 55,324, the 11th smallest country in the word from the 197 listed on Earth. Three of the national teams they play in their conference have smaller populations than them but American Samoa officially ranked the worst in the world in 2011.

It’s going to be a big job for Thomas on his arrival. They have the crap nickname of the ‘Boys from the Territory’, a sports psychologists who thinks Mount Everest is in North America, a ladyboy at left back and a tsunami has recently wrecked the national teams pitch and clubhouse, capacity 400 seats. They have just lost all three games in the South Pacific Games, 9-0 to Tuvula (population 10,000), 1-0 to the Solomon Islands (455,000) and 6-0 to Vanuatu (200,000). Over the next three weeks, Rongen trains the team of amateurs hard and decides to use the rest of the money to introduce a couple of American Samoan heritage players based overseas to beef up the defense, dumping seven of the current squad who are just not good enough.

Wing back Jaiyah Saelua has been a member of the squad since 2003 and the first ‘fa'afafine’ player about to compete in a men's FIFA World Cup qualifier. The Ladyboys are known as the third sex in this part of the world and although rather camp on the pitch deemed determined and good enough to keep his/her place by Rongen as they approach their first WC match with Tonga. Rongen’s abrasive style of coaching upsets the American Samoan suits, especially around religious callings and cultures, but he presses on and the team finds more fitness and structure, setting them up right for the key to potentially their first win in 53-years.


Even if you have grumble at the mere mention of football, you cant help but be swept along by the emotional pull of this wondrous story, willing the team of hardworking islanders on to experience the joy of scoring their first goal never mind winning a match. There standard is pretty low but they love the game and the Dutch coach quickly forms an emotional attachment to them. He knows that first win, if it comes, will change a lot of lives on the islands but it’s not a teary documentary that gets sidetracked with players back stories but all about the coach and his team. The ladyboy and the aging keeper were probably kept in the team to make the film more colorful but we all need human story to engage us more. Ina good documentary you have to b intrigued about the subject and people.

There is no conflict or political side to the movie and very sweet and tranquil as the big game approaches. The whole film is about will they win their first World Cup match and score a goal to restore pride to the island. Better still could they win their 4 team group and head for the regional play offs and a big step towards Brazil 2014? The players are modest but can dream like the rest of us as sport is really about the best you can be against your piers, not the money and the fame that embarrasses the Premier League. That really comes through in the film, the joy of playing the game with your mates.

The coach does indeed have a big effect on the team and although he left after 2014 he has left a solid template for the next coaches and American Samoa have made a flying start for 2018 WC qualifying. It’s his emotional fathering attitude that has the most dramatic effect on the team and what makes the film so heartwarming and enjoyable. It is cliché at times but if you don’t know the results of the games back then you will be drawn into this. It’s just a lovely little documentary and defiantly one to catch on terrestrial TV or your movie package.

RATINGS – 7.9 /10.0 (1,113votes) – 100% critic’s approval – 71 % critic’s approval

Special Features

-Audio Commentary-

The young English directors and coach talk about their film

-Blunt Points – Thomas rallies the troops-

Motivational speeches and tears as the final big match approaches.

-Singing in the Paco-

The team performs their own Hakka

- Q&A-

The English directors talk about the film to a local radio station there.

-Umi: local cooking piece-

They at odd food and the locals tend to be fat


The Guardian –‘As an antidote to Premier League cynicism, it couldn't be bettered’.

Globe & Mail –‘Both predictable and shamelessly heart-warming’.

Little White Lies –‘Slightly muted closing stretch lets the air out of the ball ever so slightly, but by then it's already in the top corner’.

Fan the Fire –‘Next Goal Wins is a classic underdog story, but it is entirely original’.

The Mail –‘One of the smallest triumphs in world sport inspires one of the year's most moving and entertaining documentaries’.

.Movie Talk –‘Even folk who don't give a hoot about football will find their hearts warmed by inspirational documentary Next Goal Win’.

Community evaluation

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Comments on this review

  • danielalong published 25/07/2017
  • Nymphypig published 23/07/2017
    Not really interested in football, but have to say this sounds absolutely fascinating, and well worth a watch.
  • jb0077 published 22/07/2017
    E gonna check this out
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Product Information : Next Goal Wins (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Sub Genre: General

Sub Sub Genre: Sports

Director(s): Mike Brett, Steve Jamison

DVD Region: DVD

EAN: 5051429102436

Production Year: 2014

Classification: 15 years and over


Listed on Ciao since: 15/07/2017