Magneto playing me? The incredible story of Thomas Rongen, American Samoa, Next Goal Wins, The Rock, Michael F'n Fassbender
Longtime coach Thomas Rongen reflects on his story being adapted for a film directed by Taika Waititi in an interview with GOAL.
Thomas Rongen, the longtime coach, recently sat down with GOAL to discuss the surreal experience of seeing his story adapted for the big screen in a film directed by Taika Waititi. The movie, Next Goal Wins, has already been screened, promoted, and reviewed, and Rongen himself has had the opportunity to watch it. Now, the rest of the world will have the chance to see it when it premieres to a worldwide audience on Friday.
Despite the excitement surrounding the film, Rongen still can't quite believe that it's all happening. He has had an impressive career, playing alongside and against legends like Pele and Johan Cruyff in the NASL and coaching at a high level in MLS and the U.S. youth national team system. However, he never imagined that his story would be worthy of the big screen.
So, how did Rongen find himself in this position, with Michael Fassbender portraying him in a film directed by Taika Waititi? How did Waititi hear his story and decide it was Hollywood-worthy? These questions still leave Rongen stunned.
Next Goal Wins focuses on a short period of Rongen's life when he coached the American Samoa national team. At the time, the team was considered the worst in the world, having suffered a 31-0 loss to Australia - an international record. When Rongen took over, they hadn't won a match in years.
However, under Rongen's leadership, the team experienced a magical turnaround. They secured a historic victory against Tonga on November 23, 2011, marking just their second ever win. But the film also delves into the deeper lessons Rongen learned during his time on the island.
In a candid interview with GOAL, Rongen shared his thoughts on seeing his life on the big screen, the personal and professional growth he experienced in American Samoa, and his hopes for what audiences will take away from Next Goal Wins.