DVD Review: Next Goal Wins Features Fassbender as a Ex Footballer

Ted Lasso seems to have brought on a resurgence of inspirational football stories, where down on their luck teams train hard enough to play against the most powerful teams. Read on for a review of Next Goal Wins releasing on DVD and Blu-ray in 2024!

This post contains affiliate links.  We may earn a small commission for items purchased.

Next Goal Wins starts with Taika Waititi in a ridiculous getup explaining about a humiliating loss of 31-0 by the American Samoa football (soccer) team. The team recruits a new coach, an ex-professional player who is down in the dumps.  Dutch-born Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) finds himself on the strange island of American Samoa, where the entire island stops daily to pray and the ragtag group of footballers do more joking than practicing for their matches.

Kaimana dancing on the island of Samoa in Next Goal Wins
Kaimana in NEXT GOAL WINS. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

Reeling from the breakdown of his marriage to Gail (Elizabeth Moss) Rongen detests his new job and attempts to quit multiple times. At some point, he gathers the team encourages them to play as a team, and attempts to recruit some of the better players on the island to join the squad.

Director Taika Waititi takes lots of liberties with this story which is fine, especially for those who understand that this film is meant to be overtly inspirational.  Fassbender doesn’t feel right in this role mostly because he just doesn’t do a humorous character very well.  The jokes are forced, he doesn’t do physical comedy well and he essentially grimaces throughout the entire film, that is, when he isn’t cradling a bottle of whiskey and insulting the Samoan people.

Michael Fassbender in NEXT GOAL WINS. Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 Searchlight Pictures All Rights Reserved.

Kaimana as Jaiyah Saelua is wonderful as a trans woman who plays with the team.  Lithe and beautiful, Jaiyah serves as Rongen’s guide throughout most of the film.  Of course, his character doesn’t embrace the idea of a trans person at first and Rongen’s initial transphobic reaction to her is so cringeworthy I wanted to fast-forward the film.  Fassbender’s face twists into a scowl but when he realizes that she is on the team quickly changes when he sees that she is easily the best player on the field. It’s at that point that he decides that this ragtag Samoan team is worth his time.

Initially, I was concerned because the people of Samoa are portrayed as naive and not very intelligent.  But then it becomes clear that they are portrayed the way that Rogen perceives them to be as a people.  Their passion for kindness and dedication to their faith are ingrained in every aspect of their lives.  For a mean drunk like Rongen, he just assumes they are stupid but it’s simply a way they enjoy life and not get stressed out as explained by assistant coach Ace (David Fane) towards the end of the film.

Next Goal Wins isn’t Waititi’s strongest film by any means. I wish the film focused more on the lives of the actual players who end up being mostly background characters so it’s hard to feel invested in any success they have.

Next Goal Wins becomes available from all major digital retailers including Prime Video, Apple TV, and Vudu on January 16 2024, and arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on February 27 2024, with never-before-seen bonus content including Taika Waititi’s homage to American Samoa, Polynesian culture, and sports movies.

Film Synopsis

Based on a true story, this heartfelt underdog comedy follows the American Samoa soccer team, infamous for their brutal 31-0 FIFA loss in 2001.  With the World Cup qualifiers fast approaching, the team hires down-on-his-luck, maverick coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender), hoping he will turn the world’s worst soccer team into winners.

Bonus Features**


  • Creating The Pitch of Life – Explore filmmaker Taika Waititi’s loving homage to American Samoa, Polynesian culture, and the sports movie in this delightfully entertaining short-form documentary.  See what it took to make a winning movie about the losingest soccer team in the world.

Deleted Scene

  • Priest Blessing the Team

**Bonus features may vary by product and retailer

Other DVD reviews

Thor: Love and Thunder DVD Review

Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret DVD Review

Disney’s Snow White Coming to 4K UHD BLU-RAY

Similar Posts