As Iceland host Armenia and Liechtenstein in World Cup qualifying, one familiar face is notable by his absence. For just about the first time in a decade, 37-year-old goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson will not be among the Iceland squad.
Instead, Halldorsson is busy with another venture. He is promoting Cop Secret, the new film that he has directed and co-written. It is being shown at the BFI London Film Festival on the South Bank having already been positively received across Europe.
It is an extraordinary turn of events for one of the heroes of Iceland’s Euro 2016 adventure, the man who marked their World Cup debut by saving a penalty from Lionel Messi in the opening match against Argentina. “People find my story inspiring,” he tells Sky Sports.
“Being a lower league sports player and going on to save a penalty from the best player in the world in the first game that a tiny country had ever played in a World Cup. It is an unusual story. Personally, I think it sounds like a bad script of a cliched sports movie.”
Halldorsson’s new movie is rather better. An action-comedy, devised in collaboration with some of the country’s most famous television personalities, it is something of a national in-joke. Nevertheless, the film has struck a chord with a much wider audience.
“Never did we imagine in a million years that anybody outside of Iceland would ever see it,” says Halldorsson. “There are so many things in it that only the locals will understand but people still seem to relate to it. There is something genuine about it, maybe.
“We had this idea of taking over-the-top action, supervillains, everything that we do not have in Iceland, and having it play out in the peaceful city of Reykjavik. Before you get carried away by Hannes and his movie just to let you know he played for 12 different clubs in Iceland and made 77 appearances for the national team.
He was voted man of the match against Argentina at the 2018 World cup in Russia where he save a penalty by Lionel Messi to earn Iceland a 1-1 draw.
And why not it is said that it is not only one road that leads to the market and so moving from manning the post to directing movies is not a bad idea after all.