Before he released Rocky III, Sylvester Stallone played goalie for the Allied Prisoners of War in the 1981 soccer (football) movie Escape to Victory along with fellow Hollywood star Michael Kaine and football legends Pele, Bobby Moore, and Ossie Ardeles. It’s considered by some to be “the greatest football movie ever made.“
Pairing world-class athletes with movie stars on the same team had its challenges. Pele told Michael Caine:
“Give me the ball and try to kick me to make it as realistic as possible.”
Pele made Cain look better than he was, so Caine returned the favor. He made acting sound easy, even for Pele, who couldn’t speak fluent English.
“Once I’d said to them, ‘Come on, don’t worry about it, just say the lines,’ everything went like clockwork.
The most bizarre thing about the movie though is why a rising celebrity like Stallone would participate in a film about soccer, still a niche sport in the United States to this day. At least his position on the field was realistic — America does produce exceptional goalies!
Perhaps Stallone just wanted to be celebrated in another hero’s journey. Maybe he cared about US World Cup qualification – the USMNT qualified for the 1990 World Cup after a 40-year absence. Theories aside, just look at Stallone’s incredible save to defeat the Nazis!