Fun Facts About Iceland National Football Team
The Internet loves the Icelandic national football team: it became one of the discoveries of Euro 2016, got to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and the fans were remembered for their clap ritual in the stands, which was called “the battle cry of the Vikings.” Let`s discuss some fun facts about the Iceland national football team.
9% of the population
In France, the Icelandic national team is supported by about 27 thousand fans. Not so much, if not for the fact that the population of Iceland is 330 thousand people.
At Euro 2016, 9% of the total population of Iceland supported the national team. If England had the same percentage of support, the stadium would have to accommodate 4.2 million Britons.
“It’s like your family is present at the stadium. I probably know half of our fans, or at least recognize them,” said defender Kari Arnason.
Viking battle cry
Icelandic fans will be remembered at Euro 2016 for their “battle cry”. This unusual chant sounded at all the matches of the Icelanders and has historical roots: the Vikings used the same battle cry about a thousand years ago.
Cheaper than Ronaldo
According to the website transfermarkt.de, the total transfer price of all Icelandic players is 44 million euros. For example, one English striker, Harry Kane, costs the same amount, and the price of Cristiano Ronaldo is 110 million euros.
By the way, Icelanders have a special relationship with Ronaldo. In the group round, the Icelandic national team met with Portugal and drew (1:1), after which Cristiano sharply criticized the opponent.
“We tried to win the match and Iceland didn’t try anything. They scored a goal, they had two chances in the whole game. They parked the bus at the gate. It’s hard when one of the teams isn’t trying to win, but Portugal tried to play football and win. Iceland was so happy that one might think that they won the Euro. But I think that when you are fixated only on defense, it only speaks of a lack of character. Iceland is not going to achieve anything in the tournament,” said Ronaldo after the match.
“Ronaldo is just a miserable loser,” Iceland defender Kari Arnason replied, adding that his team could well have beaten Portugal, but lacked the luck.
After the end of the group stage, when Iceland finished in group F above Portugal, the star of Real Madrid was answered by the ex-strongest man on the planet, Icelander Magnus ver Magnusson. “Dear Cristiano Ronaldo. When you said Iceland would never win anything, I’m sure you didn’t expect to see such a result. Good luck, selfish and obsessive wanker,” wrote Magnusson on Facebook.
“Mr. Ronaldo, what do you say now?” added Magnusson after Iceland reached the quarterfinals.
Support on all fronts
The Icelandic national team at Euro is supported not only by football fans. For example, after a draw with Portugal, Icelandic defender Ari Skulason was massaged by the country’s first lady ‒ the wife of Iceland’s President Dorrit Musayeff-Grimsson.
Fathers and Sons
On April 24, 1996, Iceland went down in history as the first national team to feature both father and son. It happened in a friendly match with Estonia. At that time, 35-year-old Armor Gudjohnsen and his 17-year-old son Eidur were on the field.
Eidur, by the way, is a member of the Icelandic national team and took part in Euro 2016. Now he is 37 years old, he is the most experienced and most famous player in his country. In 2000-2010, he managed to play for Chelsea, Barcelona, and Monaco. At this European Championship, he spent only six minutes on the field, coming on as a substitute in the match with Hungary.
In the 1/8 finals match, the names of all Icelandic national team players ended with “sleep”. This is no coincidence: the fact is that there are almost no surnames in Iceland. Instead, the vast majority of Icelanders use a middle name. The prefix -son (for men) or -dottir (for women) is added to the father’s name, which serves as a surname.
Because of this, parents and children from the same family usually have different surnames. Icelandic women, by the way, do not change their last name after the wedding.
1 in 2000
The British TV channel BBC cited interesting statistics: if you are an Icelander and you are between 20 and 40 years old, your chance of getting into the national team is 1 in 2000 (0.05%).
With a population of 330,000, Iceland has 21,500 registered footballers of all ages, but the national team does not include a single player from the Icelandic championship. Most of them are representatives of the Swedish and Norwegian championships (seven and three players, respectively). The most star player of the current squad is Gylfi Sigurdsson, who played for Tottenham and now defends the colors of Swansea Welsh.
Extremely emotional commentator
Icelandic commentator Gudmundur Benediktsson became widely known after defeating Austria in the group round, which allowed the Icelanders to reach the 1/8 finals. He screamed hysterically after Iceland scored the decisive goal in the 94th minute.
The match with England gave the commentator even more emotions, which has collected thousands of views on YouTube.
“Whistle as you like, British! Iceland is going to the Stade de France! France — Iceland! You can go home, you can leave Europe, you can go, damn it, wherever you want! England — Iceland — 1: 2 — the final score in Nice, the tale continues!” shouted Benediktsson after the final whistle.
By the way, after the Iceland — Austria match Benediktsson lost his main job. He was an assistant coach at FC Reykjavik, but after the team lost five of its last six matches, the club’s management dismissed the entire coaching staff, including Benediktsson.
Midfielder Johann Gudmundsson tweeted his post, written in September 2015, when Iceland qualified for Euro 2016, right after the victory over England: “I dreamed that I was a king. I woke up and I am still a king.”
Any team begins with a mentor, and therefore we will start the story with him. The head coach of the Icelandic national team is Lars Lagerbek, known for working with the Swedish national team. However, the more remarkable and distinctive figure of Lagerbek’s assistant, Heimir Hallgrimsson. As a child, he survived a volcanic eruption, miraculously survived, and moved to England, where he received the specialty of a dentist. He was in no hurry to return to his native Iceland, but after a short visit to his homeland, during which he cured the teeth of half of his acquaintances, Heimir realized that he was needed there.
In Britain, Hallgrimsson became interested in football, and upon returning home he got a job at the local club Westmannaeyjar. In the morning I inserted seals, and in the evening I went to training. At the end of his football career, Heimir headed the women’s team of the club, where he was discovered by Lars Lagerbek, who needed a charismatic guy who could convey his thoughts to football players. To obtain a Pro license, Hallgrimsson had to give up the profession of a dentist, so he now only works part-time.
Now: Icelandic Assistant Coach. Then: One of the few professional dentists in the country
Goalkeepers are generally quite strange people, but Icelandic goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson stands out even against their background. As a child, while snowboarding with his father, he fell unsuccessfully and dislocated his shoulder. Subsequently, it constantly flew out of his joint, so for five years, the boy was forced to give up football. At 21, he weighed 105 kilograms, but the desire to play football was irresistible, as a result of which Hannes took care of himself and returned to form. Decent arenas appeared in the country only 10 years ago, football is played here only four months a year, so Halldorsson had to train at the hippodrome the rest of the time to keep fit. Years of training ‒ and at the age of 27, the goalkeeper signed his first professional contract.
In March 2012, Hannesa took on a short-term loan from the Norwegian club Brann to replace the injured main goalkeeper. Soon Halldorsson took over a seat at the club’s goal and the national team. Before that, he made his living exclusively as a director. It was the current goalkeeper of the national team who shot the video for the song “Never Forget” by Greta Salome and Jonsi, who represented Iceland at Eurovision in 2012. They say that even now, after the matches, Hannes runs to his room and sits down at the computer to edit video clips.
Now: The goalkeeper with the most saves in the Euro group stage (19). Formerly: Director and video editor
As you know, for eight months there is snow in Iceland, and therefore the locals have to go in for sports indoors for most of the year. Not everyone has access to a soccer field, which is why many Icelanders have a lot of respect for handball. For example, a representative of the country of volcanoes now heads the German national team, which is the current world champion in this sport. The most bearded representative of the national football team of the country, Aron Gunnarson, was considered a rising handball star in his youth, but with age he shifted the ball from hand to foot, explaining this by the fact that handball is too simple and quickly gets boring. Of course, it is he who throws in the lion’s share of outs in the national team.
Now: Icelandic captain. Previously: the country’s most promising handball player
Kristinsson continues the goalkeeping tradition with Iceland. He made his debut in big football at the age of 16, but for a long time, he could not become the main goalkeeper. Therefore, Ogmundrur studied at the same time as a lawyer and even had an internship in one firm. Remarkably, Kristinsson has spent most of his career just behind Hannes Halldorsson. Last summer, the goalkeeper signed a contract with the Swedish Hammarby, so the practice of a lawyer has to be postponed for now.
Now: Iceland’s second goalkeeper. Formerly: lawyer
Birkir Mar Saevarsson
Birkir Mar Saevarsson almost left football at the age of 17, having failed to break into the main team of the amateur club Valur. There were two passions in Birkir’s life ‒ football and the sky, therefore, having failed to achieve success on the football field, he began to cut not the edge, but the heavens. Having entered the flight school, Saevarsson seriously thought about the career of a pilot, however, he was blocked there too, saying that he was not sufficiently responsible and disciplined. Then Birkir again turned his gaze towards the stadium and on the second attempt made his way into professional football. True, he never gave up his dream of becoming a pilot. At the end of his sports career, he again intends to sit at the helm.
Now: Scorer of the goal that brought Iceland to a draw against Hungary. Formerly: frustrated soccer player and pilot
Now the defense of the Icelandic national team cannot be imagined without this hard-working guy. However, he could completely not become a football player, having got a job as a clerk overseas. Having just started his sports career at Vikingur, Arnason, who graduated with honors, received a grant to study at Adelphi University in the USA. Having tied up with football for a while, Kari went to America, but two years later he responded to the offer of the former coach who worked with him at Vikingur to sign a contract with the Swedish Garden. Arnason did not quit his studies and graduated from the university by correspondence with a diploma on corruption in English football.
Now: Iceland’s main defender. Formerly: Student at the Adelphi Institute in the USA
Jon Dadi Bodvarsson
Bodvarsson is one of the favorites of Lars Lagerbek, and indeed of all the fans of the Icelandic national team. The young, technical, punchy forward has already distinguished himself in this tournament, hitting the gate of the Austrians, but besides that, he brought a lot of benefit with his persistence and the constant pressure of the opponent’s defense. Yon tempered his character in the port of the small town of Selfoss, where he worked on weekdays. Despite his status as one of the most talented players in the country, he did not have a steady income at the start of his career, so he was forced to earn a living through hard work. Having already become quite famous, Yon Dadi set up a fund in Selfoss to support children whose parents could not afford to buy football equipment for them.
Now: the man who replaced Gudjohnsen at the base, the author of the first goal against Austria. Formerly: Port Worker
Sverrir Ingi Ingason
Bodvarsson’s current Viking partner Sverrir Ignason was also considered one of the country’s most promising defenders, which did not exempt him from the duties as a janitor. Even though in the morning Sverrir in a green shirt-front was cleaning the streets of his hometown of Kopavogur, and in the evening he pulled on a T-shirt and laced his boots, he was still considered a professional. Yes, such stories are typical for Iceland.
Now: Icelandic core player. Formerly: street cleaner
Gylfi Thor Sigurdsson
The main star of the current national team and, perhaps, the most talented Icelandic footballer after Gudjohnsen. Gylfi`s track record includes appearances for Tottenham and Swansea, where he often distinguished himself with goals scored because the top ten on his back is quite justified. From an early age, Sigurdsson was considered a super-talented footballer by the standards of the country, and at a young age, he went abroad, while maintaining ties with his homeland. Gylfi is the chairman of a large fish trading company in Iceland. The player’s father also works there.
Now: Key player and star of the Icelandic national team. Formerly: a talented football player with great prospects
One of the most popular characters associated with the Icelandic national team is the commentator Gudmundur Benediktsson. After a goal in the last seconds against the Austrian national team, he yelled so loudly that he lost his voice.
That video has already collected hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Having restored the connections for the 1/8 match, Gudmundur once again demonstrated his emotionality, crying out to the entire stadium after Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s goal against Joe Hart. By the way, during the Euro Benediktsson was fired from his main job. At home, he was the assistant coach of the Reykjavik club. While he was commenting on the enchanting performance of his national team throughout the country, the main employer suffered five defeats in the national championship. Yes, yes, now in Iceland the matches of the national championship are being played, since at other times, due to unsuitable weather conditions, this cannot be done.