The film starts with a clip showing Santiago Munez playing football as a child in Mexico. The same night, his family illegally enter into the United States to find a better living. Santi grows up in the USA and works with his father as a gardener. At night he works as a busboy in a Chinese restaurant. He also plays football for a small local team called AJFC. He goes to play a match one day after his work with his father, where he is forced to use a pair of cardboard pieces as shin guards as he cannot afford any. He saves his money and hides it in his shoes every night to purchase a football kit.
The next day, while playing football, he is noticed by Glen Foy, an ex-Newcastle player, scout and car mechanic. Glen tells Santi that on the next match day, he will call an agent who was in US to set up a meeting with the Newcastle manager. The agent, Barry Rankin, does not turn up and lies that he is in a meeting. Later, Glen himself calls the Newcastle boss and convinces him to give Santiago a trial. Glen then tells Santiago that, if he can get to England, he will be allowed a tryout with Newcastle United. Santiago would like nothing more in the world than to join the club. However, he does not have sufficient funds, so he decides to save up some more money and use it along with his hidden stash. He returns home one afternoon, however, to find that his father has stolen his money hidden in the shoes, and used it to purchase a new Chevy truck, so they can have their own gardening business and not work for another business. When Santiago confronts his father, he explains that “this is how things get better! This is how you measure a man’s life,” to him. Santiago suddenly shouts at him “It’s Your life!” and sulks in his room. His grandmother (who is an even bigger football fan than him) sells off part of her jewellery and buys a ticket for Santi to travel from Los Angeles to Mexico City by train and catch the plane to London from there (since he is an illegal immigrant he couldn’t travel from Los Angeles to London)
On arrival in England, Glen warmly welcomes Santi to his house and arranges for a trial. Santi completely messes up his first trial and is rejected by the manager. Glen then manages to convince the manager that Santi was nervous and jetlagged. Glen requested for a month’s trial, which is accepted. At the same time, Newcastle signs Gavin Harris. Santi successfully passes the medical test by lying about his asthma condition, and meets the club’s nurse Roz Harmison. One night, Santi and teammate Jamie, go clubbing and bump into Roz. After a month, in a reserve game, another jealous teammate crushes Santi’s inhaler (Santi has asthma which he deliberately hides from the club officials because he thought he would not get the try out if they knew). His performance is very poor in the match as he is not able to run. He is then removed from the club.
On his way to the airport, Santi accidentally meets Harris on the same taxicab because he’s late for training as his car tires have been stolen. Harris remembers seeing Santi in the club and finds out what happened in the reserve game. Harris convinces the manager to extend Santi’s stay at the club. After treatment at the club, Santi is able to play more confidently and aggressively in the reserves. He finally makes it into the first team, even though he thought that he was dropped entirely from the reserves. He starts as a substitute against a match against Fulham as many of the first team players were injured. He gets his chance when a player is injured and manages to win a penalty for Newcastle which ultimately won them the match. Meanwhile his father watches the match on TV in the USA and is very proud of his son. The manager keeps telling Santi that his weakness was that he does not pass the ball (the manager also said he doesn’t pass the ball in a training session). Santi is then transferred back to the reserves. Santi thinking he won’t be able to stay long at the club goes to St. James’ Park to feel how it is to play on the pitch. The manager tells him to get off the pitch and that he could get the feeling when he played in Newcastle’s final game against Liverpool. In the training session before the match, Santi’s father dies of heart attack. Santi is completely demoralized and heartbroken though his father always criticized him. He decides to stay and play for the team in the final match rather than go back.
Also his friend Jamie tore a ligament in his leg and was told by Roz, who is now Santi’s girlfriend, that Jamie would never play football again.
In the match against Liverpool, Newcastle takes the lead first thanks to a goal from Harris. Before half-time, Liverpool makes a comeback with two goals, one from Igor Biscan and one from Milan Baros. In the dying minutes before injury time, Santi assists Harris in scoring the equalizer by finally passing the ball to him and correcting his major drawback in football. In the dying minutes of the injury time, Harris is tripped. Harris decides to make Santi take the final free kick. Santi scores with a beautiful free kick swinging away from the Liverpool goalkeeper. After the game ends 3-2 to Newcastle, Glen runs down the stands and gives his mobile saying that Santi’s grandmother had called. She is very happy and proud and congratulates her grandson. She also adds that his father did watch his first match. Roz then blows kisses to him. The film ends with Santiago shedding tears of joy while embracing his realized dream.
|Tagline:||Every Dream Has A Beginning|
|Cast:||Alessandro Nivola, Anna Friel, Emma Field-Rayner, Frances Barber, Gary Lewis, Kate Tomlinson, Kevin Knapman, Kieran O’Brien, Kuno Becker, Marcel Iureș, Miriam Colón, Nicholas Lumley, Sean Pertwee, Stephen Dillane, Stephen Graham, Tony Plana, Zachary Johnson|
|Director:||Angela Wharton, Danny Cannon|
|Country:||United Kingdom, USA|