Make us your home page

Everything you need to know about World Cup soccer, you can learn from the movie 'Victory'



Don't understand why more Americans don't love soccer? (Soccer, football, whatever). It's because they never took the time to watch the 1981 movie Victory. (Also known as Escape to Victory outside North America).

The movie, about allied POWs who play a soccer game against the German national team in Paris during World War II, was the Rocky of soccer movies. Not coincidentally, it starred Sylvester Stallone as a Canadian POW who sees joining the POW team as his big chance to escape their prison camp. Meanwhile, Max Von Sydow (no such thing as a bad Max Von Sydow movie) is the German officer whose love for the honor of the game outweighs his patriotism for the fatherland. Oh, and it has Michael CaineMichael Caine talks like this.

Oh, and if want a little soccer credibility, it starred a dozen or more actual elite soccer players in all the other roles, including some guy from Brazil named Pele.

Everything you need to know about World Cup soccer, you can learn from the movie Victory

1. It was a who's who of soccer royalty at the time from countries around the world including England's Bobby Moore, Argentina's Osvaldo Ardiles, Poland's Kazimierz Deyna, Belgium's Paul Van Himst, Norway's Hallvar Thoresen, and the United States' Werner Roth.

2. Prefer a more local flavor? Player from the Ipswich Town Football Club also appeared and stood in the non-soccer playing actors in game scenes.

3. You can learn the entire French national anthem and German national anthem watching this movie.

4. World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks coached Stallone, a position he plays in the film when the starting goalkeeper intentionally breaks his arm so that Stallone can help organize the team's escape.

5. Pele played for Brazil, but in the movie he says he's from Trinidad. Why? Because while Brazil did eventually join the war effect, it wasn't until 1944 -- too late to have worked with the film's storyline.

6. According to, the movie was inspired by an actual series of soccer games between the Germans and soccer players from the Ukraine during its Nazi occupation.

7. Goalkeepers don't score goals. Practically ever. But Stallone had to be talked out of his idea that his character would score the winning goal in the soccer match. Eventually, he settled for the idea of stopping the final penalty shot.

8. Soccer hurts. Stallone found that out the hard way when he dislocated his shoulder a broke a rib while initially ignoring the training advice of his cup-winning advisors.

9. The stadium used in the movie is not in Paris, but rather in Budapest, Hungary. Today it's the home of the MTK Hungaria Football Club.

10. Werner Roth, who played the German team's captain, was born in Yugoslavia, but played soccer for the New York Cosmos. He played 15 times for the U.S. national team in the '70s and has been inducted to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

[Last modified: Friday, June 13, 2014 1:24pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours