10 Things You Never Knew About Escape To Victory

Ben Falk
UK Senior Movies Writer

England may be out of the World Cup, but if you want football players with grit and determination, you can’t do much better than the team of POWs – including Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, Pelé and Bobby Moore – who take on the Nazis in 1981 classic ‘Escape To Victory’. Here are some things you never knew about the movie.

- There’s slightly conflicting evidence about Pele’s overhead kick. Some believe the shot in the film is the first take. Others say that the goalie managed to tip it round the post on the first, so it was done on the second.

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- Stallone asked if he could score the winner in the final match. It had to be explained that as the goalie, that wasn’t really true to life.

- Ipswich and Liverpool defender John Wark’s two lines of dialogue were dubbed by someone with what he describes as a “posh Scottish accent”.

- Michael Caine was a decent footballer, but couldn’t really run due to problems with his legs. In the film, defender Kevin Beattie plays Caine’s legs.

- Beattie defeated Stallone in an arm-wrestling match during filming. Sly was so annoyed he refused to talk to the Ipswich player for the rest of the shoot.

- Kevin – “Make it a clean break, guv” – O’Callaghan was a winger, but had to play in goal for the movie. He also had his name misspelled in the credits.

- John Huston (‘The Maltese Falcon’, ‘The African Queen’) directed the movie, but left it to Pelé to wrangle the footballing scenes on the field.

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- It was called ‘Victory’ in the US.

- England World Cup winner Gordon Banks helped Stallone look like a proper goalie (sort of). The actor injured himself multiple times during training.

- Mike Summerbee, who appeared in the film, started a bespoke shirt-making business after he retired from football. Having got friendly with Caine on the set,  the actor became one of his most dedicated clients.

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Photos: Rex/Moviestore/Everett Collection/Daily Mail/Ted Blackbrow