King Otto works a superb balance of comic relief and historical drama bringing us into the world of a forgotten sports team who was all but ignored by their own country. The film chronicles a pinnacle moment in Otto Rehhagel’s career, a former football champion, who was brought in to coach the disarray of the Greek national football team. It’s an in-depth contextual look off the pitch that takes what Netflix’s ‘The Playbook’ did with Jose Mourinho last year a step further.
Otto Rehhagel was brought in to instill a new discipline in 2001 to the Greek team who continually failed to qualify for the European Championships for over two decades and were plagued with the back to back savaging in the 1994 World Cup.
The film skims over the internal politics with regards to Otto reconfiguring the team, making cuts and recruiting new debutantes, that would form the new cohesive machine he was looking to make worthy of international A-Grade football. Instead, the film focuses on the culture differences in German and Greek stereotypes which provide for many comical setups peppered throughout the 90 minute feature.
It reunites the players with their former coach as they give a mellowed recount during the culture clashing adjustment period, new training regimens, language barriers through narrations and old media clips. These challenges that would later become a turning point in Greek football redeeming a nation’s embarrassment into pride.
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