World cup 2018 - only the strong survive

World cup 2018 - only the strong survive

Sweet mother of mackerels.

Abandoning yourself to a world cup is no small decision - it disrupts the natural order of things. After the giddy excitement of the opening match, there comes an onslaught of football that leaves you gasping for breath as real life fades away. By the time you reach the midpoint, Trump, Brexit and climate change are irrelevant - all that matters is the warm bubble of a world that revolves around football.

The 2018 world cup in Russia however, was my first world cup with a small child. Going to bed at 5am is a dark prospect when your 3 year old wakes you up at 7. Under such circumstances, it’s tempting to opt out and stick with highlights packages the next day. After all, according to Zlatan, it wasn’t going to be a great tournament anyway.

One thing is for sure, a World Cup without me is nothing to watch.
— Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Worth watching a world cup just to see when England will go out on penalties. 2018 gave us a surprise.

Worth watching a world cup just to see when England will go out on penalties. 2018 gave us a surprise.

And yet how many world cups will you see in your life? If you make it to 80, maybe 18 that you remember - they are too precious to pass up. What was needed was an excuse, and it came in the form of a project with MAILMAN - the digital sports marketing agency managing FIFA’s online footprint in China. The mission was to create a new illustration for everyday of the world cup. This was effectively doubling down - not only watching the tournament, but working through it at the same time. But it did provide justification, it wasn’t that I wanted to watch the matches - I ‘HAD’ to watch the matches.

What followed was a gruelling month of pleasure and pain - match by match, day by day, we worked our way through it. The saving grace was with such tight deadlines, there was not a lot of changes to the illustrations - send the artwork off on the buzzer, grab a couple of hours sleep and drag ourselves back to consciousness to go again. It was exhausting, but we made it. Like completing a gruelling preseason, you couldn’t call it ‘fun’, but rather deeply satisfying in a test your limits kind of way.

The tournament ends and you slowly come back to the real world - it’s been great, but you’ve had enough football for a lifetime. A couple of weeks go by and you start to think about league football again. A couple of years and a Euro later, and you’ll start to feel the itch - wake us up in 2022, we’ll be ready to go again ;)

The World Cup is every four years, so it’s going to be a perennial problem.
— Gary Lineker

Here are a selection of images from the project. A ‘making of’ post will follow soon for those of you interested in how they were constructed and the working process.

Akinfeev the russian keeper - saved a penalty and redeemed himself after a torrid tournament in 2014

Akinfeev the russian keeper - saved a penalty and redeemed himself after a torrid tournament in 2014

Nigeria caught everyone by surprise with the most popular kit of the tournament - nightmare to draw on a deadline though

Nigeria caught everyone by surprise with the most popular kit of the tournament - nightmare to draw on a deadline though

Germany went out early - but not without a delectable late winner from Kroos to beat Sweden

Germany went out early - but not without a delectable late winner from Kroos to beat Sweden

Ronaldo was an early contender for the golden boot, aided by this thumping header

Ronaldo was an early contender for the golden boot, aided by this thumping header

The ‘BATMAN’ Batshuayi with slapstick comedy gold

The ‘BATMAN’ Batshuayi with slapstick comedy gold

A bunch of stars found themselves going home far sooner than they would have hoped for!

A bunch of stars found themselves going home far sooner than they would have hoped for!

6 places for football content online

6 places for football content online