Iceland players have chance to ‘change their lives’ with victory over England

• Coach Heimir Hallgrimsson says his team must seize chance to make history
• ‘If we beat England the players’ lives will change forever and significantly’

The lives of Iceland’s players will “change forever” if they force their way into the quarter‑finals of the European Championship at England’s expense, according to their joint‑manager Heimir Hallgrimsson, who has urged his side to seize the opportunity to make history. Iceland have players with Premier League experience such as Gylfi Sigurdsson and Eidur Gudjohnsen and their other joint-manager, Lars Lagerback, was unbeaten in six meetings with England while coaching Sweden.

The achievement in emerging from Group F, secured with a last‑minute victory against Austria at the Stade de France on Wednesday, has been one of the notable stories to emerge from Euro 2016. “And we’ve said previously that this game is a win‑win game for us,” Hallgrimsson said. “These players have already won the hearts of all Icelandic people for their performances so far. With a good performance against England tomorrow, they’ll always be winners in my book.

“On the other hand, if we beat England, their lives will change forever and significantly. Icelandic football will go up in reputation around the world, and the way we approach football will be different. It’ll all look different for us. We always say that if you want the best out of life, you have to be ready when the chance is there for you. There aren’t bigger chances than this for Icelandic football. It’s just up to the players to play tomorrow and hopefully we will beat England. But whichever way this goes, these players are winners already.”

Iceland, ranked 34 in the world, are in their first major finals and have confronted England only twice, failing to win on both occasions, with their last meeting a 6-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium in 2004.

Hallgrimsson was asked by a Swedish journalist about the Cod Wars over fishing rights in the North Atlantic – three disputes which strained relations between Iceland and the United Kingdom between 1958 and 1976 – and suggested his country was not cut out for conflict. “This was the only time Iceland went to war,” he said. “We are too small to have an army and lack manpower, so we would be easily beaten rather quickly. So these guys are the Icelandic army. That’s why everyone is supporting them.”

“To play against England and to do it in the final 16? I’ve dreamed about this since I was a kid,” said Sigurdsson, who will come up against three former clubmates at Tottenham Hotspur in Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker. “It’s a very important game for the team and for the country as well. I’m playing against my former team‑mates in an international game, but more importantly I’m playing England in a last-16 game. To be at this stage with Iceland, with the chance to get to a quarter-final, is incredible. We’re full of excitement.

“England probably haven’t played their best football and they’re still in the last 16, which shows how strong their squad is. Look at their squad, they’ve got some very good players: strikers who have been scoring goals for fun in the last couple of years; experienced players as well. Hopefully we can keep them quiet.”


Dominic Fifield in Nice

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
‘You can go out of Europe’: Iceland commentator savours win over England
He may have been sacked from his day job on Sunday but Gudmundur Benediktsson probably does not care much now

Ed Aarons

27, Jun, 2016 @10:47 PM

Article image
England recall Raheem Sterling in six changes against Iceland
Raheem Sterling looked set to be recalled to the England team for the last-16 game against Iceland

Dominic Fifield in Nice

26, Jun, 2016 @9:48 PM

Article image
England determined to avoid an embarrassing slip-up against Iceland
Roy Hodgson knows his job will be on the line if the unthinkable happens and England go out against supposedly inferior opponents

Daniel Taylor in Nice

26, Jun, 2016 @9:30 PM

Article image
Roy Hodgson and England vow not to underestimate ‘throwback’ Iceland
The manager chose a spot of sightseeing over attending Iceland’s win over Austria but England will not treat their last-16 opponents lightly

Daniel Taylor in Chantilly

23, Jun, 2016 @11:18 PM

Article image
Roy Hodgson misses scouting chance but England face familiar packed defence
England manager went sightseeing in Paris rather than watch Iceland before his players take on largely unknown opponents at Euro 2016

Daniel Taylor

22, Jun, 2016 @9:51 PM

Article image
France are wary after Iceland victory over England – Bacary Sagna
The France full-back Bacary Sagna said they had been warned about Iceland before their Euro 2016 quarter-final in Saint-Denis

Dominic Fifield in Chantilly

01, Jul, 2016 @9:30 PM

Article image
Iceland feel time is ripe to defeat the nation that inspired them | Andy Hunter
Since the arrival of television the English game has been a major influence in the island nation, as has Roy Hodgson for Iceland’s coach, Lars Lagerback

Andy Hunter in Annecy-le-Vieux

23, Jun, 2016 @9:30 PM

Article image
Iceland’s Ragnar Sigurdsson warns England: ‘We believe we can beat you’
Ragnar Sigurdsson believes Iceland will not be overawed facing England in the last-16 of Euro 2016, describing Monday’s encounter as ‘a dream come true’

Jamie Jackson

23, Jun, 2016 @9:30 PM

Article image
Iceland’s toppling of England at Euro 2016 is a triumph for the little guys | Amy Lawrence
Iceland had a plan and they followed it so well that England were left perplexed and dispatched from the European Championship

Amy Lawrence at the Stade de Nice

27, Jun, 2016 @9:21 PM

Article image
England humiliated as Iceland knock them out of Euro 2016
England suffered one of the most humiliating defeats in their history after Iceland came from behind to beat them 2-1 and knock them out of the European Championship

Daniel Taylor at the Stade de Nice

27, Jun, 2016 @8:57 PM