What image is this? Against an architectonic backdrop that vaguely resembles a Roman circus, with its archs and semicircular benches, a half-naked man, in torn shorts protecting a footbal goal, with a threatening look on his face. He is covered in mud and has a bunch of scars and scratches all over his body. On his right forearm he has a tricolour band, red, white and blue, that gives us the final clue to reveal his identity: he is the goalie for the Dutch footbal team, Edwin van der Sar.
But this photo isn't the only one. Other players from the Dutch football team joined van der Sar sharing his agressive, dirty and ragged look. What strange parade is this, anyway? It all started with an article for the Dutch newspaper AD, dedicated to the European Football Championship. For such, a series of photographs of the national team were needed to promote the team's winning spirits. Erwin Olaf, well-known for his work with Heineken, Microsoft and Nokia, was chosen as the photographer and did a memorable job.
Olaf portrayed the players emphasizing the expression of beastly, voracious, even sexual, feelings, that you frequently find in football. The comparison with old gladiators, fighting for victory and survival, is suggested by the backgrounds. They asked the photographer: Why gladiators? Because football is war!, he answered. No comments.
John Heitinga and Nigel de Jong
Edwin van der Sar
Rafael van der Vaart
Giovanni van Bronckhorst