Connect in the back of the net
My country, my pride. Iceland, a country of 320,000 people and yet so crazy when it comes to football. Despite the interest, we have unfortunately never been lower on the world ranking list.

That doesn‘t mean we can‘t be optimistic, we have a good national team coach in Lars Lagerback and a bunch of players with huge potential.

However, in this article, I will choose what is in my opinion the best starting XI of Iceland since we started playing this wonderful sport.

The format will be a bit weird, it‘s an attacking 3-5-2 position, and Iceland should be focusing on defense. But I hope you will enjoy it nontheless and maybe you can learn something fun.

Goalkeeper: Árni Gautur Arason (71 national caps from 1998-2010)

Taken from Bleacher Report

It’s hard for me to pick a goalkeeper, because I never feel like we’ve had anyone outstanding, but if I have to choose one, it‘s most likely Arason.

Arason had a really successful career in Norway, playing for Rosenborg where he won the league three times and the cup once. Arason was one of Norway‘s best goalkeepers at the time and provoked the interest of Manchester City, leading them to get him from the Norwegian club on free transfer.

Arason was just a back-up for David James and didn‘t play a league game. However, he can be proud of participating in one of the most amazing FA cup games England has ever seen, City‘s epic 4-3 victory over Tottenham Hotspur, a match everyone remembers.

City found themselves 3-0 down at half time and down to 10 men after Joey Barton had been sent off. When the score was 3-1, Arason made a magnificent safe from a Christian Ziege free kick and then also saved the rebound of Gus Poyet with insane skill. 

In the end, City won the match 4-3 and has it been described one of the most amazing comebacks in the FA cup. It was probably one of Arason‘s best games, despite conceding three goals.

Today, Arason is a lawyer in Iceland.

Watch the amazing Manchester City comeback and Arason‘s crucial saves against Tottenham here:

Central defender: Guðni Bergsson (80 national games/1 goal from 1984-2003)

Taken from Who Ate All The Pies

Guðni Bergsson is a living legend amongst the Bolton faithful. He started his career at Valur in Iceland where he became Icelandic champion in 1985 and 1987. From there, he went to Tottenham in the beginning of 1989 and played 71 match with the club.

In 1994, he joined Bolton and played 270 league games, in which he scored 23 goals. He is still one of the best defenders to have ever played for Bolton, and he also captained the national team in 30 games.

Bergsson is a lawyer as well as Arason, and earlier this year he was stabbed trying to save a co-worker from a crazy man who attacked his law firm with a knife. Bergsson saved his co-worker‘s life and got the better of the intruder. His injuries were minor.

An absolute screamer by Bergsson against Barnsley in December 1996:

Central defender: Grétar Rafn Steinsson (41 national games/4 goals from 2002-?)

Taken from The Telegraph

Currently a Bolton player, Grétar Rafn Steinsson is actually a right back but I‘m sure he‘ll do well as the right center back in this formation.

Steinsson joined Bolton from Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar and immediately became a key player under Gary Megson. After Owen Coyle took charge, Steinsson has been in and out of the team, but this season they have proved far more successful with him on board than without him.

Steinsson started his senior career with Akranes, where many good players have come from, such as Huddersfield‘s Joey Gudjonsson. He went to Switzerland‘s Young Boys in 2004 and then to Alkmaar in 2006, where he stayed until Megson got him to Bolton in 2008.

Steinsson‘s amazing goal against Stoke City in the 2008/09 season:

Central defender: Hermann Hreiðarsson (89 national games/7 goals)

Taken from Flickr Hive Mind

Hermann Hreiðarsson, also known as “The Herminator” is one of Iceland‘s most bad-ass footballers. He has played in England for 15 years but has the dubious honor of having been relegated with most different clubs from the English Premier League.

Hermann Hreiðarsson is a record-holder when it comes to relegation from the English Premier League, but he has remarkably managed to do so with FIVE different clubs. 

He used to share this dubious honor with Nathan Blake, Nigel Quashie and Ashley Ward, who have all been relegated with four different clubs, but when Portsmouth relegated from the Premier League with “the Herminator” on board, he was now the single winner (or loser?).

This does not mean that the 37-year-old is a bad football player! Actually, he‘s very good and competitive, and he has scored some wonderful goals and made some fantastic tackles. He is the captain of the Icelandic national team and has 89 caps to his name. He has made more Premier League appearances than any other Nordic player! But the statistics speak for themselves, don‘t they? Let’s go over his career in a few words.

Hreiðarsson signed up for Crystal Palace from his home town club ÍBV in 1997 and was one of the few stand-out players when Palace got relegated. He scored a memorable goal against Chelsea which gave his team the temporary lead, but his consistent performances were not enough to save Palace from going down.

Hreiðarsson took a step further down and went to Brentford in the Third Division for the coming season. He helped them become the champions that year and was signed by Premier League club Wimbledon (now MK Dons) in 1999. 

You can guess what happened next, but you‘re not going to get any awards: Wimbledon got relegated in 2000!

To make a long story short, Hreiðarsson also got relegated with Ipswich Town in the 2000-2001 season and Charlton Athletic in the 2006-07 season. And then of course, there was Portsmouth in the 2009-10 season, which made him the all-time record holder for relegations with the most clubs from the English Premier League.

Right wing: Ásgeir Sigurvinsson (45 national games/5 goals)

Taken from PES Stats

Ásgeir Sigurvinsson, the best player in Iceland‘s history according to an independent panel of football experts in the country.

In 1972, Sigurvinsson became the youngest player to play for the Icelandic national side, at 17 years old.

He played for seven years with Standard Liege in Belgium and then went to Bayern Munchen in 1981. From there, he went to Stuttgart and played with them until he retired. He became German champion in 1984 and was once voted the best player in the country‘s premier league. 

That same year, he was 13th in World Socceer magazine‘s list of the world‘s best players. Franz Beckenbauer, then-manager of the West German national side, said it was a shame that he couldn‘t pick Sigurvinsson for his team.

Central midfielder: Albert Guðmundsson (6 national games/2 goals very very early)

Taken from Visir

Albert Guðmundsson was Iceland‘s first professional football player. He played for ten years in Scotland, England, France and Italy from 1946 until 1955.

Guðmundsson was a member of Iceland‘s first national team and scored two of the team‘s first goals, in a 4-2 loss against Norway.

He was very popular in France, where he was dubbed “The White Pearl”. He signed for AC Milan in 1948 but broke his knee against Lazio and was released later.

In 1962, he participated in a game with AC Milan‘s old stars against Inter and scored the team‘s goal in a 2-1 loss against their rivals.

After his career, he went on to become the chairman of the Icelandic FA, and he became a congressman as well. He died in 1994 and is the only member on this list who is not alive.

His son is the second highest goalscorer of the Icelandic premier league since it was formed, and his grandson now plays for FH, one of the biggest clubs.

Central midfielder: Atli Eðvaldsson (70 national games/8 goals)

Taken from SHFV-Kiel

Is still famous in Germany after scoring five goals for Fortuna Dusseldorf against Eintracht Frankfurt in 1983. That happened on a Saturday, and 24 hours later he was in Iceland where he scored the only goal in Iceland‘s victory against Malta.

He was twice an Icelandic champion with Valur before going to Germany in 1979, where he played for nine years and scored 59 goals in 226 appearences. Returned to Valur in 1988 and was there for two seasons before signing for Genclerbirligi in Turkey, where he played for a year. 

Was Iceland‘s most capped player when he hung up the national team boots in 1991.

Attacking midfielder: Gylfi Sigurdsson (9 national games/1 goal)

Taken from The Guardian

Gylfi was just over 16 years old when he joined the Reading youth academy from Breiðablik, Iceland. He worked very hard from day one and in the 2008-09 he made his debut before signing for Shrewsbury on loan. In February 2009 he joined Crewe Alexandra on loan and that first team experience proved to be worth a fortune.

The 2009-10 season was absolutely amazing for Gylfi and saw him rise to stardom at Reading. He scored a memorable cup goal against Liverpool at Anfield, which forced their game to extra time, where Reading won 2-1. 

In total, he scored 21 goals in 44 games and was named at the Reading player of the season. He was also named as the Championship player  of the month in March 2010.

His performance provoked interest from various big clubs and on August 31st, 2010, Gylfi signed for Bundesliga club Hoffenheim. He was voted as the fans’ player of the season 2010-11, despite only starting 13 games. He scored 10 goals and had two assists.

But in the 2011-12 season, Gylfi barely got to play. The team were doing awful as well and it came as a gift from heaven when the Icelandic international was loaned to Swansea in January.

You all know the rest. Sigurdsson proved himself to be a great player, scored 7 goals for Swansea and got the EPL Player of the Month award in March 2012. He then signed for Tottenham this summer after few weeks of speculation about his future.

Gylfi is a hard working, humble footballer and is without a doubt one of Iceland’s brightest hopes.

Left wing: Rúnar Kristinsson (100 national games/3 goals)

Taken from Fotbolti

Didn‘t go professional until 1994 after receiving the Young Player of the Year award in Iceland seven years before. Had a long and successful career in Sweden, Norway and Belgium. Was an outstanding player wherever he played and is the only national team player to reach 100 games. 

He was the captain of the national team for a while, but the highlight of his career was when he played for Lokeren in Belgium. Is now the manager of current Icelandic champions KR Reykjavik.

Striker: Eidur Gudjohnsen (67 national games/24)

Taken from WN

Gudjohnsen is arguably Iceland’s most successful footballer ever. Having enjoyed spells at Chelsea and Barcelona, he currently plays for AEK Athens in Greece.

When Gudjohnsen was only 18 years old, it looked as if his career might have reached it’s end when he broke his ankle in an U18 national team game against Ireland. 

At the time, Eidur played for PSV Eindhoven and was alongside the Brazilian Ronaldo considered to be one of the club’s hottest prospects. However, he was released from PSV after struggling with his injury and he returned to KR Reykjavik in Iceland in the year of 1998.

Eidur was then revealed as a Bolton player ahead of the 1998-99 season, where he managed to get back in shape and help the team in the Icelandic First Division. He scored 19 league goals over two seasons at the Reebok Stadium and was purchased by Chelsea in 2000.

He formed a deadly striker partnership with Dutchman Jimmy Floyed Hasselbaink during the 2000-2001 season and scored 23 goals himself, helping Hasselbaink to a tally of 27 goals. After Roman Abramovich’s acquisition of the club, his first team place was in danger, but he still managed to 2003-04 season and 2004-05 season, scoring important goals in the Premier- and Champions League.

After 263 appearences for Chelsea, it was announced on June 14th 2006 that Gudjohnsen had signed for Spanish giants Barcelona.

Gudjohnsen had a relatively good first season in Catalonia but perhaps never fulfilled the expectations of Frank Rijkaard and the fans alike. He still played over 100 games for Barcelona, but left the club to join Ligue 1 side Monaco in the summer of 2009.

Since then, Gudjohnsen’s career has been going rapidly downhill. He never found himself at Monaco and was loaned to Tottenham on loan in January 2010, despite having already undergone a medical at West Ham. Gudjohnsen did relatively well at Spurs, but didn’t get a permanent deal there and signed for Stoke in the beginning of the 2010-11 season.

Despite promises from manager Tony Pulis, Gudjohnsen barely got to playt at all for Stoke and left for loan at Fulham in January 2011.

But on July 19th, the Icelandic international signed for AEK Athens in Greece, but in October he was injured against Olympiakos and couldn’t feature more during the season. He is now expected to leave AEK in the summer.

With 24 national team goals, Gudjohnsen is the highest goalscorer for Iceland.

Striker: Kolbeinn Sigþórsson (10 national team games/6 goals)

Taken from Beer Footy and Birds

It was obvious from the very beginning that Kolbeinn Sigþórsson would turn out to be a magnificent footballer. At a very young age, Kolbeinn was already showing huge potential and was far better than pretty much everyone his age. 

He signed for Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar in 2007 and played with their youth and reserve teams to begin with. 

At that time, he was very unlucky with injuries, but finally made his debut with the first team against IFK Gothenburg in the Europa League in August 2010. He now plays for current Eredivisie champs, Ajax.

Alexander is an Icelandic football journalist who recently started the @icelandfootball project on Twitter, where he will be bringing information about Icelandic footballers alongside another sports journalist, in English.

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