AWARD-WINNING movie star Jake Gyllenhaal has revealed his true ambition – to play for the USA in the World Cup.

The Brokeback Mountain actor comes from a renowned showbiz family – his dad Stephen is a director, mum Naomi is a screenwriter, sister Maggie is a famous actress and his godparents are Jamie Lee Curtis and the late Paul Newman.

But, as a kid, the star of new swashbuckler Prince Of Persia only wanted to shine on the football pitch.

He still has that burning love for the beautiful game and is excited about the World Cup kicking off in South Africa next month.

He told the Sunday Mail: “There is a very early entry in my diary, from when I was six, and it says ‘soccer is my life!’ “I played school soccer and it became my obsession.

“Of course, I’ll be watching the games. I would really like to go to the World Cup finals.”

The USA are in the same group as England, Algeria and Slovenia, and the 29-year-old is rooting for his nation to make the next stage of the competition.

He said: “For the first time I can say that America is my team and not have people roll their eyes or nod in a kind of pitying way.

“I think we have a great team and real potential to definitely show something for the first time.” Sports-mad Jake – he regularly goes for 12-mile runs or works up a sweat on demanding cycling circuits – is in London for tonight’s world premiere of Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time.

Inspired by a hit computer game, it’s an epic Arabian romp in which he and Bond girl Gemma Arterton team up to defy dark forces. Naturally the baddie, played by Sir Ben Kingsley, is bent on world domination by means of a magical dagger and only the young twosome can stop him.

Although he is a fitness fanatic, the actor had to go through r igorous preparation to get in shape for the f ilm’s demanding action sequences. It meant learning parkour – a technique that allows you to run up walls or along rooftops seemingly effortlessly- as well as training for the sword-fighting scenes.

Jake said: “There’s no reason to do a movie like this if you can’t do the stunts.

“It was all about being able to do everything that was asked of me. So I got into the best shape I could, with running, parkour training, weightlifting and horse-riding.”

Despite the careful planning of action and stunts, Jake still got a few injuries along the way but shrugs offthe knocks and bruises.

He said: “Sometimes there was a little pulling and tearing of tendons and some little muscle things and bruises and cuts, but it was no big deal. I accepted that aches and pains are part of the job.”

Jake had the same true grit attitude about filming on location in Morocco where cast and crew had to cope with sandstorms and temperatures that soared to 125F.

He said: “It was hot but it was fun. The desert is really cleansing, the sand exfoliates your skin and there is a nice, warm, dry sun. I definitely breathed in my share of sand.”

It’s evident that Jake – who won a Bafta for Brokeback Mountain and also starred in Donnie Darko and The Day After Tomorrow – revels in his work.

He reveals he was excited just driving to the massive film sets which were created in the desert for Prince Of Persia.

“It was like going to a sporting event when you are the captain of the team,” enthuses Jake.

“There were cars lined up along the road for five miles and there was an army of film crew and the sets were 100-feet high! Every day I did feel like a kid.”

The film also helped him realise another childhood ambition – to have his own action figure. He said: “That is like fulfilling the dreams that I had when I was eight.

“When he is playing with an action figure what young boy doesn’t think that maybe one day… ? “So to be one is incredible. If you were to go back to the eight-year-old me and say that one day I will be in a movie that looks a little like Indiana Jones and it is the video game that I am actually playing, called The Prince Of Persia… I think that my head would have exploded.”

As always appears to be the case, Jake has a busy work schedule. He is filming a science fiction thriller titled Source Code, but before that hits the screen he’ll be seen in a couple of other movies.

One is Nailed, a bizarre comedy in which he is a young senator who takes up the case of Jessica Biel, a waitress who has accidentally had a nail stuck in her head.

And he also stars in another wacky comedy titled Love And Other Drugs in which he is cast as a Viagra salesman. He jokes: “That research was interesting.”

If Prince Of Persia becomes the smash hit that is anticipated, Jake could also find himself starring in a Pirates Of The Caribbean-style film franchise.

There are other Prince Of Persia computer games which could be adapted for the screen and he loves the idea of returning to the desert for more movie adventures. “I am totally game,” added Jake. “I love the character and his world. I think it is super fun.”

Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time is released on May 21.