2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

14 June - 15 July

Russia 2018

Halldorsson’s dream becomes reality

© Getty Images
  • Halldorsson shines as he saves Messi's penalty kick
  • "To save a penalty in the first game of the World Cup is like a dream scenario"
  • Iceland's goalkeeper directed promotional film for his team ahead of Russia 2018
By Petur Hreinsson with Iceland​

Icelandic keeper Hannes Halldorsson made a name of himself as a talented film director before he turned a professional football player at the age of 29 in 2014. Halldorsson now plays for Danish Superliga side Randers but pressed pause on his career behind the camera four-and-a-half years ago. However, the script he created and directed yesterday in Iceland’s 1-1 draw against two-time World Cup winners Argentina, is without a doubt his best work, and shows that his talents belong in front of the cameras.

“To save a penalty in the first game of the World Cup is like a dream scenario. To experience that, I guess you must concede a penalty. Since that happened, I just decided that now it was my turn. I was determined to save it,” Halldorsson, the man of the match, said after his astonishing performance at the Spartak Stadium.

Inside Halldorsson's mind
Having managed to avoid relegation with his club team in May, Halldorsson dusted off his old camera before the Icelandic team travelled to Russia and directed a mood-setting Coca-Cola commercial in Iceland to unite the nation and excite supporters for the country’s first ever World Cup. The promotional video, that featured his compatriots in the Icelandic national side as well as his former roommate in the team, Eidur Gudjohnsen, was well received but it is his penalty save against one of history’s best players, Lionel Messi, that will never be forgotten in Icelandic footballing history.

It may seem odd but Halldorsson felt good on the goal line waiting for Messi to take the penalty, but admits that things were quite surreal. “I did not really believe that this was happening. That this had become reality. But you couldn’t be calm until the referee blew the final whistle, because you want those things to count. It was a big relief when the referee blew the final whistle,” Halldorsson said.

Sigurdsson's belief
Halldorsson received warm words from Icelandic star man Gylfi Sigurdsson who, speaking to FIFA TV, expected a save from his keeper.

“I somehow believed that Hannes would save the penalty and got myself into position, if he would get the ball and bang it forward. But of course, this is fantastic for him, fantastic for us, and came at an important moment. It gave the team the extra boost needed, to find some strength to run a little bit more for the last 20 minutes,” Sigurdsson said.

Right after the penalty save, Iceland’s coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, high-fived goalkeeper coach Gudmundur Hreidarsson, as a sign of appreciation for their good preparatory work.

“I had prepared. I looked at many penalties converted by Messi. He’s hard to read. He can kick the ball wherever he wants, but I had a strong feeling that he would choose this corner,” Halldorsson said.

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