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|Goal!: The Dream Begins|
U.S. theatrical poster
|Directed by||Danny Cannon|
|Produced by||Mike Jefferies
|Screenplay by||Dick Clement
Ian La Frenais
|Story by||Jonathan Ezekiel Arias|
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Edited by||Chris Dickens|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$27 million|
Goal! (also known as Goal! The Dream Begins in the United States) is a 2005 sports drama film directed by Danny Cannon and produced by Mike Jefferies. It is the first installment of a trilogy also named Goal! This film was made with full co-operation from FIFA, which is one of the reasons actual teams and players are used throughout the film. The second installment, Goal II: Living the Dream, was released in February 2007. The third installment, Goal! III: Taking on the World, was released in June 2009.
Santiago Muñez (Kuno Becker) is a skilled footballer. The son of a gardener who lives in a barrio section of Los Angeles, Santiago works as a busboy in a Chinese restaurant and helps with his father's (Tony Plana) gardening business. His ultimate dream is to play football professionally. 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 are slim. Santiago is noticed by Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane), a former Newcastle United player who works as a car mechanic but still has ties to his old team. Glen arranges to get Santiago a tryout with Newcastle United, who recently signed talented new player Gavin Harris (Alessandro Nivola). Needing to get to England, Santiago begins to save his money in an old shoe, but his father finds the stash and takes it to buy a GMC truck to allow them to work for themselves, believing that Santiago's dreams are hopeless. His dream is not lost though, as his grandmother (Miriam Colon) sells off her jewellery to buy him a ticket to England.
Glen warmly welcomes Santiago to his home and takes him to the tryout. Unfamiliar with the English style, he performs poorly. Glen convinces the team's manager that Santiago needs a month's trial to show his full potential. Santiago does not tell club nurse, Roz Harmison (Anna Friel), that he has asthma. After a month, a jealous teammate crushes Santiago's inhaler before a reserve game. An asthma flare-up prevents him from being able to run hard, and his coach lets him go. While on his way to the airport Santiago meets Gavin Harris, who was late to arrive to the 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 the asthma. Santiago earns a contract for the reserves team and moves in with Gavin. Finally he gets onto the first team as a substitute in a match against Fulham. There he wins a penalty for Newcastle, which is taken by Gavin winning them the match. Unknown to anyone else in his family, his father watches the match on TV in the USA, and after finally watching his son play, he leaves a proud father. Despite the victory, the manager informs Santiago that his weakness is that he does not pass the ball off. That night, he and Gavin go out partying. A picture of the two winds up in the tabloid The Sun, causing anger from the manager. At the same time, Santiago's friend, Jamie, suffers a career-ending injury that only causes him additional grief.
Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, Santiago's father dies of a heart attack. Devastated, Santiago plans to return home. While in the airport waiting for his flight back to Los Angeles, he decides not to return and reports back to training. Believing he may not make it to the playing 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 finally passing the ball to him, to make it 2–2. However, a draw will not be enough to earn Newcastle a place in next season's UEFA Champions League. Mere minutes before the end of the game, Gavin is tripped and Newcastle gain a wide free kick, which Gavin gives to Santiago. Santiago, with the hopes and prayers of the whole city of Newcastle resting on his shoulders, 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 (a cameo by Brian Johnson, lead singer from AC/DC, who was born and raised in Newcastle). Santiago shouted 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 happily ends with Santiago shedding tears of joy while embracing his dream.
- Kuno Becker as Santiago Muñez
- Alessandro Nivola as Gavin Harris
- Stephen Dillane as Glen Foy
- Marcel Iures as Erik Dornhelm
- Anna Friel as Roz Harmison
- Tony Plana as Santiago's father
- Kieran O'Brien as Hughie McGowan
- Sean Pertwee as Barry Rankin
- Míriam Colón as Mercedes Muñez
- Cassandra Bell as Christina
- Alejandro Tapi as Júlio
- Kate Tomlinson as Val
- Arvy Ngeyitlala as Tom
- Zachary Johnson as Rory
- Jorge Cervera as Cesar
The soundtrack contains "Playground Superstar", the track that marked the full return of alternative rock group Happy Mondays. A video was also made to promote the soundtrack.
The soundtrack was released on Oasis' Big Brother 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.
- "Playground Superstar" – Happy Mondays (exclusive track)
- "Who Put the Weight of the World on My Shoulders?" – Oasis (exclusive track)
- "Leap of Faith" – Unkle featuring Joel Cadbury (exclusive track)
- "Human Love" – Dirty Vegas
- "Morning Glory" (Dave Sardy Mix) – Oasis (exclusive track)
- "This Is the Land" – The Bees
- "Cast No Shadow" (Unkle Beachhead Mix) – Oasis (exclusive track)
- Score: "That's That" – Graeme Revell
- "Club Foot" – Kasabian
- "Look Up" – Zero 7
- "Wet! Wet! Wet!" – Princess Superstar
- "Blackout" – Unkle
- "Will You Smile Again for Me" – ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
- Score: "Premiership Medley" – Graeme Revell
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Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 44% based on reviews from 80 critics, stating that "the run-of-the-mill story invokes every known sports movie cliche".  Metacritic gave the film a score of 53%, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Other reviews came from Variety.com, which called it "a slickly mounted slice of can-do nonsense";  BBC Film, which labelled it a "fantasy that stumbles when it strains for real emotion";  and UEFA Perspective, which called it brilliant. 
Despite mixed reviews, one exception to this was film critic Roger Ebert, who awarded the film a middling three stars (out of five) and praised the film saying: "it's surprisingly effective". He then 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."
Ebert singled out Kuno Becker's lead performance in the film and praised it quoted 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."
- "Goal", Rotten Tomatoes, Flixster.
- Variety.com review
- BBC film review
- UEFA Perspective, UEFA.com.
- Ebert, Roger (May 11, 2006). "Goal! The Dream Begins". Chicago Sun-Times.