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Review: ‘The Streets Don’t Lie’ (2017)

The Streets Don’t Lie is a 3-episode mini-series from the 2017 season of Red Bull TV. Each 27-minute episode follows former French International Djibril Cissé as he travels to London, Berlin, and Paris. In each city, he interviews 3 candidates, from which he selects one player to train with a Red Bull academy for one week.

All of the players are without a club and most are 18-22 years old—largely considered too old to make it to the pros in Europe. In individual interviews, Cissé asks each player why he hasn’t realized his dream. Having gotten to know them a little, he then makes his decision after watching the 3 candidates play in a 60-minute Selection Game of what looks like 7v7 under lights.

After a player is selected, the episode follows the player at the Academy. The London player goes to RB Leipzig, the Berlin player to RB Salzburg, and the Paris player to RB New York. RB Salzburg has an incredible training facility.

The film gives an idea of what training and assessment are like. Trainers measure 30-meter speed (3.81 sec is Bundesliga average), VO2 max, flexibility, and blood samples. The German trainers emphasize aspects such as playing in small space, simple play, fast play, quick thinking, precision, recovery and counter-attacks, and playing with both feet. In contrast, American coach John Wolyniec provides few specifics.

While the series concept is gimmicky, it is interesting to get a glimpse inside the Red Bull academies and their playing philosophies. It’s also a little sad to see how poorly the RBNY facility and its coaches compare to Leipzig and Salzburg. It gives some insight into why Germany is #1 in the world, whereas  the USMNT failed to qualify for WC 2018.

It is unsaid how the candidates were recruited. In London, all 3 players are products of youth academies. In Berlin, it is apparent that screening was lax, because one player is trying to become a rapper and hasn’t played in 18 months, while the second player had been dropped by an earlier team when he fainted on the field from an apparent heart arrhythmia. Each city has at least one candidate who is a street footballer.

The players

Post-release of the series, of the 9 players, only one is currently playing at a higher level than where he was originally. The players are:

Episode 1: London to Leipzig

Episode 2: Berlin to Salzburg

  • Ismat El-Ali – 1999 – Selected and now with FC Union Berlin U19
  • Dami Camara – cardiac issue
  • Andres Schroder – rapper

Episode 3: Paris to New York

7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7