Iceland’s World Cup dreams, in photos

After a surprising rise to the quarter finals in the 2016 Euros – and beating England on the way – Iceland has entered the World Cup with realistic optimism. A photo story titled The First Time, investigates football culture and fandom in the country.

Iceland has qualified for the World Cup for the first time in its history and with a population of just over 300k – that’s the same number of residents as Newcastle – it is also the smallest nation competing in this year’s tournament. If that wasn’t enough to win hearts, a lot of the squad aren’t exactly full-time footballers. Heimir Hallgrimsson works as a dentist when he isn’t coaching and goalie Hannes Thor Halldorsson is a filmmaker – he directed the film for Iceland’s Eurovision 2014 entry.

The little nation has captured the world’s imagination; much has been written about how the country strategically grew its football culture with an investment in youth training and infrastructure. And of course, they knocked England out of the Euros in 2016.