The Hollywood Version:
During World War II, a group of Allied prisoners that included the unlikely trio of Pele, Michael Caine and Sly Stallone (who was between Rocky II and First Blood) spent their time in a Nazi prison camp playing soccer. The Nazis, being the clever bastards they were, came up with a can’t-miss propaganda extravaganza in which a team of their best and brightest would take on this Allied side, clearly having never heard of Pele.
The Allied team accepts, hoping to use this match as a means of escape. However, once they get their perfect opportunity to escape during halftime, they choose instead to return to the pitch and try to beat the Nazis thus winning respect, rather than their freedom. It should be noted that they were relying on Stallone as their keeper. After a miraculous save by–you guessed it–Stallone, there was much rejoicing, and the Allies escape during the ensuing chaos.
In reality …
Well, for one thing, there was no Allied team. That means no random Brazilian like Pele, that means no cheeky Brit like Caine, and that certainly means no out of place palooka like Stallone manning the net. Instead, this story is inspired by a group of Ukrainians who were forced into playing the Germans while their country was occupied during WWII.
The Nazis lost to the upstart club miserably and repeatedly, with the Ukrainians destroying them in the final match by a decisive and wholly embarrassing 8-0 score. So that’s pretty inspiring, right?
Well, shortly thereafter, the Gestapo found various reasons to arrest and then torture several members of the Ukrainian team. After all, the Gestapo were
assholes like that. One player died during the torture process, while
the rest were shipped off to a work camp. And, well, executed.
God, that’s depressing. And that’s precisely why Hollywood chose to Stallone the shit out of it.