Posted at 11:03 AM on August 1, 2006
by Euan Kerr
Imagine someone, really rich, from let's say India, going to Michael Jordan just after he retired, and offering him hundreds of millions of dollars to go to India to play on a semi-pro team? And if Jordan accepted?
Unlikely? Well, that's pretty much the same scenario as what happened in the US in the 1970's when Warner Brothers President Steve Ross, a man obsessed with soccer, hired Pele, the Brazilian star widely held to be the best player in history, to play for the New York Cosmos. It's a wild story told in "Once in a Lifetime," a new documentary by Paul Crowder and John Dower.
While this is nominally a story about "the beautiful game," it's really an examination of wealth, power, and obsession, set against the excesses of the disco era. It's also a story about the impact of a big media conglomerate and the way it tried and almost succeeded in creating a vibrant pro soccer scene in the US by pouring pots of money into one team.
And ultimately it's the story of how bad interpersonal relationships and a few ill-considered decisions can bring the whole thing crashing around your head.
There is even the all-important Minnesota angle as the Cosmos are humiliated 9-2 by the Minnesota Kicks in the first leg of the quarterfinals of the national championship. The film shows the way the all-star Cosmos pounded Tino Lettieri in the second leg.
It's well worth a look.