This film about Mexico’s Hugo Sanchéz is a little bit different from the deluge of content the streaming era has brought. Some of the worst shows have essentially been reality showcases for celebrity footballers, such as Neymar and Paul Pogba. It felt like these players were isolated narcissists and I ended up disrespecting them as players as well.
However, this Hugo Sanchéz documentary is so off the mark, I ended up feeling a little sorry for Senor Sanchéz. We see him in his late fifties, trying to set up his legacy and explain himself to a Mexican public (and past teammates and coaches) who didn’t like him very much.
Like most great goal scorers, Hugo is a narcissist and a difficult personality. If he hadn’t missed that PK in Mexico’s 1986 World Cup, if he had managed Mexico’s National Team a little better, maybe he would be a bigger celebrity today. Although Sanchéz has 165k Instagram followers, he’s not a celebrity that pops into mind or conversation that often, and this film will not enhance how he is perceived or remembered.
Why so little name recognition?
Before watching this film, I had no idea who Hugo Sanchéz was. The problem with this film is that its premise is that Hugo’s dream was to be the best footballer in the world. He explains how he worked hard to accomplish that and put his career ahead of his family. But there are so few game clips, you’re not convinced he is Mexico’s greatest player. Even his back flip sucks. He has records and trophies from playing at Real Madrid, but since I don’t follow that team, I didn’t care about those relics at all.
I instead became more interested in why Hugo held no name recognition for me, even though I have watched over 400 soccer movies. Judging by the lack of reviews, it seems like no one cares about this movie. And, I could find no prior movies about him. Why is he so overlooked, at least in non-Mexican media?
My guess is that Hugo was greatly eclipsed by a guy just 2 years younger, who was at the time the greatest footballer in the world — Diego Maradona. They had similar paths and they even looked quite similar in build and hair styles. Hugo went to La Liga’s Atletico Madrid in 1981; Maradona went to Barcelona in 1982. Both of them were subjected to racial abuse in Spain. Hugo then went to Real Madrid for 1985-1992 while Diego went to Napoli for 1984-1991.
As international coaches, Hugo managed Mexico through qualifying for WC 2010 but was terminated in Mar-2008 after a little over 1 year. Diego took over Argentina in Oct-2008 and lasted through the WC 2010 tournament. Neither of those achievements are remarkable, but certainly Diego’s tenure got tons more attention, especially as his star player was Messi, another world’s best player.
The film is 7-8 years delayed
I was quite confused by the 2022 release date for this film — if Hugo played in the 1980s, why does he look so young? The film also shows him wiping away tears over the death of his only son. The film gives no context, so I wondered if he were crying over a small child, and when had that tragedy happened. It seemed fairly recent. It turns out that the scene was filmed 7-8 years ago, but within a year after the young man had tragically died at age 30 from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
I discovered the film was announced in 2014, filmed during 2015, and then… nothing. It’s always a sure sign of big problems when a film sits unreleased for that long. I assume it got saved from purgatory and bought up by Amazon in a distribution package deal, probably included just because of Hugo’s name.
Writer-Director-Producer Panda Padilla‘s film was originally meant to cover Hugo’s successful career in the eighties, his decline in the 1990s, his successful tenure as a coach at UNAM Pumas, and his controversial stint with the Mexico NT. But the 78 minutes of film covers his good years, a little of his early years, a proud-dad-of-second-family vibe, and almost nothing about his parents, siblings, or upbringing. There’s no real attribution to coaches. There’s not much game footage to fawn over. The talking heads are endless. Ronaldo’s scene is 10 seconds.
The overall emphasis is around a hard-driving, self-made man who doesn’t really thank anyone for his successes. And you know what? That’s not very interesting nor very honest 30-40 years after the fact.
Watching this film made me realize that the starring character in Las Bravas FC must be slightly based on Hugo — a footballer who goes to Spain for his entire famous career, but when he returns to Mexico, nobody cares about him.
5 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 5
- Released: 2022-11-18 (Amazon)
- English title is Hugo Sanchez, the Goal and the Glory
- Spanish title is Hugo Sanchéz: El Gol y la Gloria
- In Spanish with English sub-titles
- I watched this on Amazon Prime
- 1 hour 18 mins
- Director: Francisco Javier Padilla aka Panda Padilla
- Stars: Hugo Sanchez
- Watch the Trailer