Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson has England in his sights ahead of the duo's Euro 2016 clash on Monday, but four years ago it was an altogether different vision of continental supremacy that was occupying his thoughts. In Azerbaijan.
Before his heroics between the posts helped Strakarnir okkar (or ‘Our boys’ for you non-Icelandic speakers out there) to qualify from Group F at their first ever ever major championship finals appearance, Halldorsson directed Iceland’s entry for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Baku.
The 32-year-old’s video for Greta Salome & Jonsi’s Never Forget is well worth a watch, particularly if you’re a fan of violins. And snow.
“The song finished in 20th place,” Halldorsson tells FFT of the ditty’s meagre 46-point haul. “But I saw some commentary online which said 'at least they have the best music video', so it wasn’t all doom and gloom.”
Nor was the earnest-if-annoying effort beating legendary crooner Engelbert Humperdinck’s UK entry (12 points) into a Eurovision pulp. Not bad for a country better known for its unpronounceable volcanoes than its video-director footballers.
The ensuing four years, though, have been a fairy tale for Halldorsson, who explains: “My career didn’t develop in the same way as almost every other footballer in the world – for nine years my number one job was being a film-maker – but that’s the charm of the Icelandic team. We have different stories; we’re a mixed gang of people. There’s a saying that there’s no elevator to success – you have to take the stairs. Everyone in the team knows that.”
Halldorsson denies Nani
Born: April 27, 1984
Place of birth: Reykjavik, Iceland
Current club: NEC Nijmegen
Career: 2002-04 Leiknir R. 2005 Afturelding 2006 Stjarnan 2007-10 Fram 2011-13 KR 2012 Brann (loan) 2014-15 Sandnes Ulf 2015- NEC 2016 Bodo/Glimt (loan)
International: Iceland (33 caps)
Whatever happens against England, it's pretty obvious that none of Halldorsson's upcoming opponents own a CV as eclectic as his – and it's certainly safe to say that Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy have never got up close and personal with Europe’s most poptastic institution.
“I mostly directed commercials, as they were done in a day and it was the only way for me to work as a film-maker alongside playing football,” he says. “I also did a lot of music videos when I was young. That’s how I made my name and how the Eurovision opportunity came along in 2012.”
All of which begs the question: did Halldorsson tune in to the latest song-fest in Sweden?
“You can’t really admit that you’re a big fan of Eurovision, can you?” he says. “It’s not the coolest of things. But I always liked it as a kid. It’s a guilty pleasure. It was on my to-do list, so it was too good a chance to turn down. And we finished way ahead of the United Kingdom.”
All right, Hannes – no need to rub it in.
- INTERVIEW Eidur Gudjohnsen: I’ve only been to Iceland once – and didn’t buy anything
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This feature originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!
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