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A Viking armour

Iceland and the pride in its jersey

A Viking armour  Iceland and the pride in its jersey

An aerial footage of a glacier, then a wood and finally the top of a mountain. A series of quick frames moves the narration to a snowy village: in the solitude of desert alleys some kids are dribbling and passing the ball, while the background sound of clapping hands similar to the sound of a drum starts getting closer and pounding. The climax is reached in the shot of four tees hanging on a clothesline. These jerseys, designed by Erreà, and worn by Iceland players during this World Cup, were presented last March in a video that contains all the characteristic elements of the smallest country to ever qualify to the competition. Tonight Iceland will play for its qualification in the elimination phase against Croatia, in an exciting distant challenge with Nigeria and Argentina. 

A jersey of ice and lava 

 

Iceland's uniform is probably the one that, more than any other, expresses its deep bond with the native country. Its design, as the one for the France 2016 European championships, is inspired by the geography of the island, where 334 thousands people live. The home kit is the artistic transposition of the island's natural elements, the white of the ice, the blue of the water and the red of the volcano lava. The creation of the tee was curated by the Parma-based brand Erreà, which has been sponsoring the Iceland team since 2002. The placement of the colors follows a specific narrative tale: the ice, symbolically represented in the white V neck and on the shoulders, ideally melts with the lava on the sleeves, to create a red and blue dots graphic. To stress the national identity and the strong sense of belonging of the Icelandic people, inside the neck is sewed the motto "Fyrir Island" ("For Iceland"), as during Euro 2016

It was the first international appearance for a team guided by a trainer who worked as a dentist and made of players all working in foreign leagues, many of which became pros only recently. The qualification in France was the epilogue of a project created by the federation in order to promote football, even in glacial temperatures. Many indoor structures were built to play and train in any period of the year, courses and classes were created to educate trainers and to encourage youth sectors, realities from which current players come from, such as the midfielder Gylfi Sigurðsson. The fact that Iceland got to the quarter of finals was a big surprise, and created a sort of hype for the Vikings, grown further for the World Cup. Iceland managed to attract the likes of many supporters, not only for the charm of small teams able to do great thigs, but also for its approach to the matches, focused to get a good result, rather than playing a beautiful football. An unconventional narration has developed around the team and its speculative, closed and essential playing, as well as around the captain Aron Gunnarsson, who, with his long beard and tattoos, is the symbol of charisma and pride, and when needed, rude naturalness. 

 

 

 

Geyser look & sound

Even though Gunnarsson's team is playing in a pretty difficult tournament, the odds to see him and his mates repeat the exploit of two years ago are not that low. This might be one of the reasons why Erreà has chosen for the presentation of the new shirt the claim "Legends are born without warning", as to remark the unpredactibility of Iceland's successes. The video is paired with the iconic and epic image of a geyser, one of the most surprising natural phenomenons in the world, metaphor of the explosiveness of the team that went from playing on iced fields with amateur players, to the international scene. The latest performances generated a kind of new discovery and passion for the game among the Icelandic people. Even the Prime Minister Guðni Th. Jóhannesson exhorted the entire nation to support the team in Russia, while playing with his wife. The invitation was well received, since the 99.6% of them watched the first match against Argentina. 

 

There was also the collaboration with Icelandair, Iceland's largest airline, which gave the travellers the opportunity to dive into the local football culture guided by the players themselves. One element, more than the others, made Iceland a mainstream phenomenon and made its supporters famous all over the world. That's the geyser sound, picked as the soundtrack of Euro 2016. It consists of a always more intense and fast sound of clapping hands, preceded by two beats of drum, with an intense "uh" at the end of every beat. All these elements - the transposition of the geyser sound as the soundtrack in the presentation video, the explosive Erreà's claim - blend in a jersey that stands out in a market - the kits designed for the World Cup - dominated by brands like Nike, Puma and adidas. The growth of these giants had inevitable consequences on smaller realities like Umbro and Erreà, whose creations have drawn the attention of hipsters who prefer a kinky, kitch and underground style. Even though Erreà is sponsoring only a few teams - Iceland is the only present in Russia, the others are almost all African- it managed to create a tiny masterpiece, symbol of a new football Iceland. Bolder and more aware of its capacities, perfect representation of the pride of a population ready to export some of its tiny land to the huge and unexplored Russia.