In the months leading up to Iceland’s first-ever FIFA World Cup, Hannes Thór Halldórsson juggled his time on the pitch with time behind a camera. Now, the goalkeeper for the smallest qualifying nation can say he directed a commercial for one of the world’s biggest brands.

The 34-year-old Halldórsson, who has only been playing professionally since 2014, has for many years pursued his passions as both a footballer and a filmmaker.

“As soon as we qualified, I sent him a him a message saying: ‘This is our moment…. Let’s do something big’,” said Snorri Baron, a close friend of Halldórsson and the managing director of Coke’s advertising agency in Iceland, Maurar. Coca-Cola has been a proud sponsor of Icelandic football for more than 30 years.

Halldórsson and the Maurar team went back and forth on a script for months, eventually landing on a core creative idea. “We wanted to capture the fact that the whole nation is going to the FIFA World Cup together,” Halldórsson said. “It’s not just 11 players on the pitch.”

Iceland

Iceland Goalkeeper Hannes Thór Halldórsson on the set of the Coca-Cola commercial he directed . 

The crew shot the ad in various locations in early 2018, working around Halldórsson’s practice and travel schedule with the team. Halldórsson tapped the talents of several friends in the worlds of both filmmaking and football to pitch in behind and in front of the camera.

The end result is an atmospheric Coca-Cola spot titled “Saman” (Icelandic for “together”), which features a mosaic of scenes featuring a cross-section of the country’s culture and scenery with cameos from real-life Icelanders – from fisherman and weightlifters, to bakers and welders to, of course, footballers.

“When I look back on the last few months and think about all the work we put in – all the hours spent applying the finishing touches and everybody who helped us, and how this all relates to the pinnacle of my football career – out of every project I’ve ever worked on, this is closest to my heart. It’s my most personal project, and I’m very proud of the outcome.

Her concludes, “This ad puts me in a World Cup mood. I hope it does the same for those watching it.”

Watch this special behind-the-scenes film (click CC for Engish subtitles) to learn more about how the spot came to be and how a professional footballer playing at the very highest level managed to shuffle filmmaking and football.