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Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos (2006)

PG-13  |   |  Documentary, Sport  |  7 July 2006 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 1,247 users   Metascore: 67/100
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The rise and fall of the N.Y. Cosmos. The soccer team that brought Pele to America; against the backdrop of N.Y. City in the 70's.




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Credited cast:
Nesuhi Ertegün ...
Himself (archive footage)
Narrator (voice)
Clive Toye ...
Shep Messing ...
Giorgio Chinaglia ...
Peppe Pinton ...
Werner Roth ...
Jay Emmett ...
Phil Woosnam ...
Raphael de la Sierra ...
Carlos Alberto ...
Franz Beckenbauer ...
Himself (archive footage)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Marv Albert ...


A look back at one of the more curious fads in American professional sports, the sudden rise and precipitous fall of the North American Soccer League, spanning its existence 1968-1984, as seen through the experience of its most famous club, the New York Cosmos. The NASL made very little impact in the US, where soccer had virtually no following, until in 1975 the New York Cosmos succeeded in signing the most famous player in the world, Pele. Attendence for Cosmos games exploded, outdrawing even the New York Giants and New York Jets of the NFL, to where exhibition games in Seattle were drawing huge crowds, and when Pele announced his retirement in 1977 his final game drew the biggest crowd to ever see a soccer game in the US. His retirement from the game began a slow but steady decline for the NASL as money issues for the league and the spending practices of the Cosmos became a running controversy. Written by Michael Daly

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The untold story of the team that had America at its feet. See more »


Documentary | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for language and some nudity | See all certifications »


Official Sites:





Release Date:

7 July 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fußball vom anderen Stern - Die Geschichte von Cosmos New York  »

Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,805 (USA) (7 July 2006)


$144,431 (USA) (1 September 2006)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Pelé declined to participate in the documentary when the producers balked at his $100,000 fee. See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the credits, a pair of "super fans" re-enact the Cosmos cheer. See more »


President Chimp Toe
Written by Steve Cobby and David McSherry
Performed by Fila Brazillia
Courtesy of Twentythree Records Ltd
See more »

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User Reviews

Mildly interesting--particularly if you lived back then...
5 February 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

The North American Soccer League (NASL) an abortive attempt to create a huge sports organization on par with other major league sports such as the NFL and MLB. Their premier team clearly was the New York Cosmos--a very, very high-priced collection of stars from around the globe. What's surprising to me is not that they won a lot of games but that they didn't win even more considering their bankroll. This film chronicles the history of this club as well as gives insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the Cosmos.

When the film begins, the Cosmos are more like a semi-pro club at best. No one attends their games, they have no stars and there just isn't any interest. The same could be said for the rest of this rag-tag league. However, with the coming of big money from Warner Brothers came new life to the team and the rest of the league. With the coming of Pelé and other top world stars came a sudden interest by the public. In fact, there was so much interest that the league even eventually got their own network contract...and soon the league just fizzled.

I found the film pretty interesting when it came to personalities. While the team had HUGE stars, it also had some huge egos. And, it was rather funny how decades later, folks associated with the team STILL hate the team's most productive star, Giorgio Chinaglia--who didn't do a lot in this documentary to get the viewers to like him! Overall, the film is worth seeing--particularly if you lived through the era. It's also a great show to watch to learn how NOT to run a league--as you'll see if you watch the film. Interesting.

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