International footballing minnows Iceland, a team lacking the star names of the biggest nations and featuring semi-pros like a defender who took time off his job at a salt-packing factory to go to the World Cup, shocked one of the tournament favourites Argentina, in part, thanks to their film director goalkeeper saving Lionel Messi’s penalty.
It’s not often a film director saves one of the world’s greatest footballer’s penalties at a World Cup. But Hannes Halldorsson did. The man who help direct Iceland’s Never Forget music video featuring Greta Salome and Jonsi for the country’s entry into the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, dove to his right to deflect Messi’s tame penalty kick in Iceland’s surprising 1-1 draw with Argentina, saying later he got into the striker’s head.
Halldorsson said he guessed which way Messi was going with the ball after studying previous penalties taken by the Barcelona man during his latest domestic season. The goalkeeper, whose former film production employers say will re-hire him after his footballing days are over, said he noted the body language of Messi when preparing to take the kick and made the decision the Argentina man was going to his right.
While the goalkeeper plays football professionally, that doesn’t stop him moonlighting as a filmmaker with several documentaries to his credit as well as a 2018 World Cup Coca-Cola advert. He’s one of a number of Icelandic players who supplement their playing careers with other professions such as defender Birkir Mar Saevarsson who works in a salt-packing factory and needed to request extended leave to play at this summer’s tournament.
That made the Nordic islanders’ efforts against one of football’s international powerhouses even more impressive. Their well-drilled, disciplined defensive display going hand-in-hand with an underdog mentality has driven them to some impressive results (including breaking England’s hearts at Euro 2016) and this one against Argentina is up there with their greatest achievements.