How Would Goal! Look If it Was Made Today?

How Would Goal! Look If it Was Made Today?
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​The Goal! film series, tracking the ascent of loveable Mexican maestro Santiago Muñez from a standout amateur player in Los Angeles into one of the best in the world, was a staple of a generation’s footballing education. 

If you’re a mid-to-late 90s kid who came to terms with the sport at the beginning of the 21st century, chances are you spent hours in the garden or out in the street practicing step-overs, roulettes and audacious overhead flicks, having been inspired by the film to chap on your mate’s door with a ball under your arm. 


There was talk of a reboot in 2016, but it’s maybe just as well that it got binned. Justin Bieber as the main man? No, you can keep it. 

No, no; if we’re going to reboot Goal! for 2020, we’re going to do it right. And having already adapted ​Bend it Like Beckham​Mean Machine​Jimmy Grimble and more for the social media generation, here is 90min‘s pitch for how a modern version of the iconic movie would look. 


The Team

In Goal! (2005):

Muñez, our hero for the next 1000 words or so, earns a trial with Newcastle United, after impressing out-of-work scout Glen Foy with an acrobatic finish in a Sunday League game in Los Angeles, where he and his Mexican family live. 

In the context of the movie, the Magpies are faltered title challengers, and manager Erik Dornhelm (Marcel Iures) outlines their goals for the season in a press conference unveiling marquee signing Gavin Harris (Alessandro Nivola).


They’re aiming for the top four, and need to win their last three matches to achieve it. 

In Goal! (2020):

In theory, ​Newcastle still works. They finished 14th in 2004/05, and sit 13th in the league at present meaning they’re in a broadly similar position. The studio probably didn’t think that the club would go from consistently challenging for a Champions League spot to mid-table fodder so quickly.

So we’re going to change things up for the sake of believability. We need a realistic top four challenger; ideally one who has recently (kind of) been in the title picture, and have aspirations of getting back in there.


Newcastle don’t quite cut our mustard; the new Santiago is getting a trial at Tottenham Hotspur


Arriving in England

In Goal! (2005): Santiago arrives on British shores, his trip having been funded by his gran after his dad stole his last €1200. Despite not having all of the correct papers, he is let through by a Newcastle-supporting immigration official because the club ‘need all the help they can get.’

It then occurs to him he has no clue how to get from the airport (presumably Heathrow) to Newcastle, so he calls Foy from a phone box to ask. Foy then advises him on which train to catch and puts him up for the duration of his month-long trial. 

This is shortly followed by a beach training montage in the pouring rain, set to Oasis cult hit Cast No Shadow.

In Goal! (2020): Our Santiago simply has to have the right papers; there’s no way in hell an illegal immigrant gets into Brexit Britain that easily, but we can write around that. 

There’s no need for train fare; it’s 2020, and for a trial at ​Tottenham, Santiago just needs to travel to the north of the city. An Uber is arranged. ‘Been busy tonight, mate?’ he asks in an overly posh/fake accent, trying to brush up on the culture after asking his 112 Twitter followers how to fit in.

His beach (backstreets of Enfield) montage is set to I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas; we’re lifting the tone a little.


The Adversity

In Goal! (2005): Santiago takes to a despicably muddy training pitch and gets the living bejesus kicked out of him by his mildly racist teammates. 

He struggles to come to terms with it all; even more-so after a w**ker team-mate in the reserves who has had it out for him since day one steps on his inhaler, ultimately revealing his struggles with asthma to the coaches.


As if that wasn’t bad enough for our emerging young star, he even gets stitched up by a couple of girls at a party, and has ‘indecent’ (but really tame) pictures sold to a newspaper; pictures which get back to the manager and his love interest Roz (Anna Friel).  

Oh yeah, and then his dad dies. 

In Goal! (2020): We’re not having any of the xenophobic nonsense in our version. Instead, it’s some gentle ribbing about the fact he’s only ever played ‘tinpot’ football in the states. The muddy pitch isn’t a problem; we have all-weather astroturfs in the future.

He can’t have asthma since he’d never pass a medical in the first place. Our boy’s underlying knee injury that’s exacerbated by a sly, well-placed kick when that nameless defensive midfielder susses it out. 


And we’re going to steer clear of the sex scandal altogether. It wasn’t a big enough plot point to justify writing in the sort of cataclysmic controversy that would be required to almost disgrace a footballer in the current climate. 

His dad still dies, though. We can’t change that.


The Cameos

In Goal! (2005): There are no shortage of cameos from real-life footballers. The most notable one comes in the gym at the training ground, when Alan Shearer – then still a player – asks Santiago if he’s finished with the leg press machine.

Santiago is later introduced by Harris to David Beckham, and ​Real Madrid teammates Zinedine Zidane and Raul at a nightclub. That has no real significance (in the first film, at least), but it’s a nice nod.


In Goal! (2020): For obvious reasons, it can’t be Shearer. Instead, it’s modern day Spurs legend ​Harry Kane, but instead of Santiago springing to his feet to offer the machine up right away, he just sort of shrugs and says he’ll be five minutes. He’s not intimidated by Kane in the slightest. 

Beckham was the most marketable star in football back in 2005; nowadays it’s ​Cristiano Ronaldo. So it would be he and two ​Juventus team-mates, probably the underwhelming combo of ​Aaron Ramsey and ​Paulo Dybala, that Santiago has a chance meeting with. 


The Big Game

In Goal! (2005): As the movie enters its final straight, we get some ‘actual’ football. We see Patrick Kluivert net the winner against ​Chelsea to set up an explosive final day shootout, in which Santiago earns a start against ​Liverpool

Our hero – having long-since gotten to grips with reserve football by this point – has the game of his life. He sets up Harris for the opener and the equaliser to make it 2-2, after ‘Liverpool’ (10 filler actors and the real Steven Gerrard) came from behind to lead. 

Santiago then curls a free-kick into the top corner to ensure Champions League football for the Magpies, and they all lived happily ever after. 

In Goal! (2020): We need to change it up, so it’s a ​Son Heung-min winner against ​Manchester United that sets up the finale; which happens to be a final day North London Derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Let’s say Arsenal are a point ahead of fifth-placed Spurs; so a win ensures Champions League football. 


Following the vein of the original, the only ‘real’ ​Arsenal player is their most recognisable star ​Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. But he has a quiet game; Santiago’s two assists and his last-minute winner (an acrobatic volley instead of a free-kick since that’s more in line with what he’s been doing for the entire film) clinches it.

The stadium erupts; our hero is redeemed, and Tottenham finally have something to celebrate.  

Ah, the magic of fictional cinema. 


For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!





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