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Escape to Victory, perhaps the greatest World War 2 sports movie ever made, its centre piece being a football game between allied prisoners of war and the Germans. This film was released in 1981 and directed by the great John Huston (the Maltese Falcon, The African Queen, Moulin Rouge (no not that one)).

The allies team consists of a mix of different nationalities ala The Great Escape. However the majority of parts are played by members of Ipswich Town's early 80s squad. To prevent the players stumbling over too many lines, a few 'proper' actors are also involved. Michael Caine plays the allied team captain, while Sylvester Stallone is the obiligatory American presence, playing the goalkeeper despite looking as he's never seen a game of football in his life. Max von Sydow also appears as the German coach.

Of the footballers the great Pelé and former England captain Bobby Moore are given the most to do, though neither displays much in the way of acting ability. However Pelé's goal with an overhead kick properly captures the essence of a great goal better than any other football movie. Other notable players to appear are Ossie Ardiles, Jonh Wark, Mike Summerbee, Soren Lindsted, Co Prins, Kazimierz Deyna, Russel Osman and Kevin O'Callaghan.

Of course it is hokey stuff, and I wouldn't recommend watching much of the film prior to the start of the challenge match between the POWs and their German captors. Despite the escape tunnel being dug in the dressing room, and the injuries suffered my various players, its always clear that our heroes will play the whole match and bring justice to themselves. If you've not seen it you can guess the final score. This is required viewing for young footballers to watch on a Sunday afternoon and then go out and try to imitate Pelé's goal-scoring feats. There may not be much competition but this is the definitive football film.

In the USA this film was released as Victory. Try this for an American perspective.

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