World Cup contender Iceland emerges as 2018's Cinderella story: What to know about the team
Status at the Madrid box ultimate 12 months together with his fingers outstretched, Iceland football captain Aron Gunnarsson paused and seemed up towards his lovers within the stadium, all status in a identical stance, fingers ready prime within the air. Slowly, his fingers instantly, Gunnarsson waited till two drum beats sounded ahead of bringing his arms in combination over his head, grunting because the “thunderclap” reverberated all over the stadium.
In combination, lovers and Icelandic gamers alike, persisted the mantra, getting quicker and louder with every repetition.
Iceland defeated Kosovo in October 2017 within the Eu Championship to solidify its spot within the 2018 International Cup, turning into the smallest crew to take action. And when the main football tournament kicks off on June 14, it is going to be the primary time ever Iceland has ever competed within the storied International Cup.
Previous, within the Euro 2016, Iceland shocked football lovers because it defeated England, an enormous embarrassment for the Eu crew. And that used to be when that “Viking chant” changed into well-known.
Learn on for a have a look at the Iceland crew and the way it were given to be this 12 months’s Cinderella contender.
A have a look at the crew
A film director, goalkeeper Hannes Halldórsson is the No. 1 participant for Iceland, his movie profession placed on cling for now. However he used to be at the back of a climatic International Cup Coca-Cola industrial with the thunderclap sounds very obtrusive.
“We would have liked to make an commercial that touched the folks,” he mentioned in a statement to the Reykjavik Grapevine, an Icelandic mag. “An commercial that will remind everybody that we’re in this adventure in combination. There could also be simplest 11 gamers at the box, however we by no means really feel on my own — we really feel that every one Icelanders are status at the back of us.”
Status beside Halldórsson at the Icelandic crew is defenders Ragnar Sigurðsson and Kári Árnason — who travelled round Thailand in combination in the summertime of 2015. At midfield for Iceland is captain Aron Gunnarsson, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson and Gylfi Sigurðsson, who additionally is available in infrequently at ahead.
Guðmundsson, too, has an artistic aspect outdoor of football: he plays guitar in a rock band.
The crew is coached by way of Heimir Hallgrímsson, who additionally runs a dental surgical treatment hospital in a small Icelandic the city. On the Euro 2016, Hallgrímsson used to be assistant trainer however used to be promoted to guide the crew forward of the International Cup.
A novel trainer, Hallgrímsson is understood for assembly up with lovers at a Reykjavik bar ahead of house video games to speak technique.
However the crew fandom isn’t whole with out Guðmundur Benediktsson. He’s now not a trainer or participant — lately — however his enthusiasm and dedication to the crew used to be obtrusive after the commentator went viral for his shrieks of excitement after Iceland scored in a 2016 win over Austria.
“That is finished! That is finished! We’re going to Paris! Did you notice that? Did you notice that? By no means wake me from this wonderful dream,” Benediktsson shouted, in keeping with a translation from The Guardian.
“Boo as you prefer England! Iceland goes to Stade de France on Sunday. France Iceland! You’ll be able to move house. You’ll be able to move out of Europe. You’ll be able to move anywhere the hell you need,” he mentioned.
Ranked No. 22 by way of FIFA, that is Iceland’s first International Cup look, representing a rustic of simplest about 330,000 population who’re used to residing in a snowy local weather for a lot of the 12 months. It additionally debuted new kits — or jerseys — for the event.
“We will by no means return on pronouncing, ‘Oh, we’re too small to visit the International Cup,’ or, ‘We’re too small to get to the Euros.’ As a result of we’ve finished it,” Gunnarsson has mentioned, according to The Los Angeles Times. “And whenever you do it in combination, anything else is conceivable in soccer.”
“You don’t become bored with the questions,” he persisted. “It’s how it’s. We all know the place we stand. We all know what we’re. It’s important to earn the precise to play soccer. And that’s what we’re doing at the present time.”
It used to be greater than 20 years in the past when officers with Iceland’s nationwide football federation toured a Norwegian coaching heart and took notes to duplicate this system, The Los Angeles Occasions reported. Through 2011, it had utterly overhauled its training program, and the crew headed to the UEFA league’s Beneath 21 Championship in Europe, the newspaper reported.
“We move into the contest with the conclusion that we need to be there, like somebody else,” mentioned Hallgrímsson. “Why must we expect one thing else? We’ve trust in ourselves. We all know what we’re about.”
He persisted, “And that’s the energy of the squad: they know precisely what we’re about. We’re now not looking to be one thing else. And in any case, that will probably be our energy.”
The crew is subsidized by way of Grocery store Iceland, a partnership that stemmed after lovers on social media tagged the wrong Iceland account after the football crew certified for the Euros.
In its first fit of the event, Iceland will face Argentina.
The Related Press contributed to this file.