37-year-old Eidur Gudjohnsen will be making his international swan song for Iceland at Euro 2016. The attacking player from Reykjavik is certainly the most famous footballer to have come from Iceland. He scored 54 goals over six illustrious seasons with Chelsea. He spent three seasons with Barcelona, capturing a La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble in 2008-09.
And yet, his most remarkable accomplishment might be the one he holds with his current international teammates: helping Iceland to become the smallest nation to ever reach a major international tournament.
With a population of 323,002, Iceland would be the smallest of any US state — Wyoming has a population of 582,658. With a landmass roughly the size of Kentucky, their ability to finish above the Netherlands and Turkey in qualifying, something the USA would certainly struggle to do, beggars belief.
For Gudjohnsen, he’s thankful to just be a part of it all. After 18 months away from the national team it appeared as though his international career, one approaching 100 appearances and 30 goals, was at an end.
However, he returned on March 28, 2015, scoring the opening goal in Iceland’s 3-0 victory over Kazakhstan. He also appeared for 26 minutes in Iceland’s historic 1-0 victory over the Netherlands, ensuring that the country nearing the Arctic Circle had every chance of qualifying for France.
The legend of Lars Lagerback’s squad, Gudjohnsen has spent 20 years with the senior set-up, and his experience will prove invaluable for and Iceland side that boasts exciting talent in Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aron Gunnarsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.
“I’m delighted, I played my first game for the national team 20 years ago, so it’s a bit of an icing on the cake - but it’s not just that,” said Gudjohnsen. “I’m not going there just to travel there. Hopefully I can play an influential part in the team.”
Iceland open play against Portugal on June 14, followed by a pivotal match against Hungary on June 18. They’ll play their final group game against Austria on June 22.
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