Next Goal Wins

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Next Goal Wins
The poster for the film Next Goal Wins.jpg
British poster for Next Goal Wins
Directed byMike Brett
Steve Jamison
Produced byKristian Brodie
StarringThomas Rongen
Jaiyah Saelua
Nicky Salapu
Music byRoger Goula
CinematographyMike Brett and Steve Jamison
Edited byJulian Quantrill[1]
Archer's Mark
Agile Films
K5 International
Distributed byIcon Productions[2]
Release date
  • 19 April 2014 (2014-04-19) (Tribeca)
  • 9 May 2014 (2014-05-09) (UK)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Next Goal Wins is a 2014 British documentary film directed by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison. The film chronicles the national football team of American Samoa as they try to recover from the indignity of being known as one of the weakest football teams in the world, and to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.


In 2001, American Samoa lost 31–0 to Australia, the worst loss in international football history, and have been dogged by defeat ever since. They want to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but continue to lose on the pitch. To help turn their luck around, the Football Federation American Samoa hire Dutch-born, America-based coach Thomas Rongen.[3]

Over the next three weeks, Rongen trains the team, and introduces some players based overseas, until they can acquit themselves with pride at the qualifiers at the OFC World Cup Qualification.

Jaiyah Saelua, a member of the squad since 2003 is the first fa'afafine player to compete in a men's FIFA World Cup qualifier.[4][5]


The American Samoa football team had refused permission to numerous film and TV crews before being approached by Brett and Jamison, the directors were given permission to film the team because they aimed to celebrate the fact that the team continued to play in the face of their defeats. The film was shot on 5k resolution using a RED Epic camera over two visits to the island of six and eight weeks respectively.[6]


The film had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on 19 April 2014.[7] It was released in the United Kingdom on 9 May.[3]

Critical response[edit]

Next Goal Wins received overwhelmingly positive reviews from both critics and audiences. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 100% approval rating, based on 29 reviews, with a rating average of 7.6 out of 10.[8] On Metacritic the film has a score of 71 out of 100, based on reviews by 10 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[9]

In the UK the film was admired by those who loved football and those who didn't. Representing the latter, Mark Kermode reviewed the film twice. In The Observer he gave Next Goal Wins four stars out of five and wrote that "whether or not you give two hoots about "the beautiful game" (and I don't), this charming and uplifting documentary will have you cheering for the underdogs and wishing that all footballers were this humble, determined and just plain decent."[10] While on his film review programme with Simon Mayo on BBC 5 Live he admitted that the film made him both cry and punch the air.[11] In the New Statesman, Arsenal fan Mark Lawson called Next Goal Wins, "one of the best films about football",[12] because it will appeal to football fans and the football indifferent alike.

Across the rest of the world the coverage was also positive. In The New York Times Anita Gates called the film "splendid celebration-of-humanity documentary" comparing its best moments to an Edith Wharton novel.[13] A number of reviewers remarked that interest in soccer or even sport was not necessary to enjoy the film.[14][15] Despite their largely positive reviews, Liam Lacey in The Globe and Mail noted that the film was predictable[16] and in the Los Angeles Times Sheri Linden wrote that there is nothing exceptional about the film cinematically.[15]


Next Goal Wins won the Special Jury Award as part of the Documentary Film Competition at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2014 it was also nominated for a Black Pearl Award for Best Documentary Feature at the same festival. The same year it won the Best Documentary award at the British Independent Film Awards. In 2015 the film was nominated for Documentary of the Year at London Critics Circle Film Awards 2015.


  1. ^ Next Goal Wins - British Films Directory
  2. ^ McNary, Dave (6 February 2014) "Berlin: Soccer Documentary ‘Next Goal Wins’ Gets U.S. Distribution"
  3. ^ a b Kev Geoghegan (6 May 2014). "Next Goal Wins for 'world's worst football team'". BBC News. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  4. ^ "Next Goal WIns". NBC Sports Radio. 20 February 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  5. ^ "Hollywood treatment for American Samoa". FIFA World. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  6. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (3 February 2014) "Making Next Goal Wins" Screen International
  7. ^ "Next Goal Wins". Tribeca Film Institute. Archived from the original on 6 May 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  8. ^ Next Goal Wins Rotten Tomatoes
  9. ^ Next Goal Wins (2014). Metacritic
  10. ^ Next Goal Wins review – uplifting documentary about world's worst football team
  11. ^ (9 May 2014) Mark Kermode reviews Next Goal Wins Kermode and Mayo's Film Review. BBC Radio 5 Live.
  12. ^ Lawson, Mark (29 MAY 2014) Next Goal Wins: for once, a football film people might actually watch New Statesman
  13. ^ Gates, Anita (April 23, 2014) A Badly Bruised Soccer Team Tries to Beat a Reputation The New York Times
  14. ^ Gant, Charles (May 5, 2014) Film Review: ‘Next Goal Wins’
  15. ^ a b Linden, Sheri (April 24, 2014) Review: 'Next Goal Wins' turns losing soccer team into champs
  16. ^ Lacey, Liam (July 11, 2014) Next Goal Wins: Predictable, but shamelessly heart-warming

External links[edit]