The International Player kicks off with a somewhat familiar scene — a celebrity leaves a night club accompanied by 2 women who are ready to party. The man drives fast and recklessly, until he crashes his Porsche convertible into a concrete wall. From his hospital bed, the film looks backward to see how the player Malek (Youssef El Sherif) came to this point of possible suicide right before a World Cup qualifier.
Director Ahmed Medhat weaves an entertaining tale. Young Malek’s father is an alcoholic who is running his small publishing business into obsolescence. He forbids the boy from playing football, but Malek’s twin sister and her girlfriend Enjy encourage Malek’s love for the game. A coach recognizes his talent, but the conflict with Dad leads to a family tragedy and breakup.
Malek’s footballing ability allows him to feed his family, and in a few short years he is playing against AS Roma in the Champions League. From there, he goes to Europe to play for Valencia. Eventually his old coach calls him up for the Egyptian National Team, and they must defeat Algeria to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. Somewhere in that timeline, Malek recuperates from his car accident and finds true love.
That was a very brief synopsis that doesn’t reflect the way the story unwinds and excludes some of the side stories. Just remember that drinking alcohol is a sin.
There is quite a bit of soccer. Young Malek is talented both as an actor and a player, and there is kind of a joke in the story where the coach who discovers him gets beaten up because the community mistakenly takes him for a predator.
Youssef El Sherif as the older Malek has some soccer skill; his wikipedia page says he played for a youth team. He is shown practicing with real players from AS Roma, Valencia, and the National Team. I am not knowledgable enough to identify those players.
While Malek helps Egypt qualify for WC 2010 in this drama, in fact Egypt had not qualified for a World Cup from 1990 until recently. In Nov-2017, under the talents of the famous Mo Salah, Egypt qualified for WC 2018 by defeating Congo at home in Alexandria.
The International Player is entertaining drama as a young man leads Egypt to the World Cup despite an alcoholic father and tragedy. It is my first review of an Egyptian film.
The product placement in this film is humorous. There are 3 scenes where a Snickers bar figures prominently.
While researching this film, I found a 2018 list of Egyptian football films by Nahed Nasr. Perhaps she is another soccer movie mom?
7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7