However anybody considering that Gudni Johannesson is able to swap his place within the stands for a go well with and Champagne has bought Iceland’s president-elect all unsuitable.

Whereas most politicians head for the VIP zone and the rarefied environment of a company field, Johannesson says he cannot wait to be within the stands to cheer on his countrymen when Iceland meets host nation France within the quarterfinals of Euro 2016 Sunday.

“Why would I am going within the VIP room and sip Champagne once I can do this wherever on the planet?” Johannesson informed CNN with greater than a touch of a smile.

“No, I might be within the stands with the followers and I’ll put on my Iceland shirt. And with respect to the French workforce — it mustn’t underestimate us.”

There’s little likelihood of Iceland being underestimated after it pulled off one of the vital astonishing leads to the historical past of the event by defeating England in Nice Monday.

It was a consequence which despatched shockwaves internationally of sport, costing England coach Roy Hodgson his job and bringing humiliation upon one of many world’s most well-known footballing nations.

House of the richest and most watched league on the planet, England was embarrassed by an Iceland workforce taking part in in its first ever main worldwide event, changing into the smallest to ever compete on the competitors.

Whereas England’s followers went right into a interval of introspection after shedding to a workforce which is co-managed by a part-time dentist, round eight% of Iceland’s 330,000 inhabitants was celebrating with its gamers contained in the stadium.

Iceland followers have flocked to France en-masse bringing loads of colour, tune and the famend cacophonous clapping celebration.

“It was incredible to be in Good and cheer the workforce on to such an unbelievable consequence — there have been tears of pleasure,” stated Johannesson, who will exchange Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who has served as head of state for the previous 20 years.

“In fact, for Iceland as a rustic, this implies so much. It exhibits that if you happen to set your self a aim, work in direction of it, stick collectively and have self-discipline then something can occur.”

On Sunday, Iceland will face its stiffest check but at Euro 2016 because it makes an attempt to tug off one other shock consequence — this time towards a France workforce dreaming of a 3rd European Championship crown.

Few outdoors Iceland are giving it an opportunity however that issues little to those that have been partying in Reykjavik over the previous fortnight.


Recent from filming the second sequence of TV present “Fortitude,” actor Joi Johannsson additionally has flights to Paris already booked as he heads to the French capital together with his son hoping to seek out a few tickets for one more potential Icelandic blockbuster.

“Moving into the event we have been already winners nonetheless you take a look at it — we’re the one nation that has by no means misplaced on the finals,” the actor quipped.

“Icelanders are sometimes moody, with the lengthy winter, the snow and the chilly however we’re dancing within the streets, kissing and cuddling, with out the usage of alcohol for as soon as.”

Whereas hundreds have traveled to France for the event others have stayed at house and gathered en masse to look at on huge screens throughout the nation.

“Everybody within the nation has a reference to a workforce member, a buddy, or a buddy of a buddy,” added Johannsson, who’s pleasant with a few the gamers.

“It is as a result of everybody has that connection that makes it particular — it is like a member of the family succeeding at one thing and that is why we’re so proud.”

The unity between followers and gamers has been evident from the very begin of the event with defender Kari Arnason joking that he knew about 50% of the Iceland help which had arrived after the islanders reached the final 16 stage with a dramatic 2-1 win over Austria.

The enduring clapping celebration — as if summoning the spirit of a Norse god — has grow to be one of many options of the event as has the gamers looking for out members of their households contained in the stadium after video games.


“It is a fairytale which has made the entire nation comfortable,” stated Iceland worldwide goalkeeper Gunnleifur Gunnleifsson, who was not chosen for Euro 2016.

“First, it was a dream come true for Iceland to play towards England at a event — it is one thing we have waited years for and it was superb.

“All the nation believed we may beat them as a result of we have now that mentality. We have been the higher workforce, and it felt like they thought they might stroll throughout us.

“Nevertheless it was a incredible efficiency. It’s important to do not forget that once I was a child, the workforce was at all times struggling.”

Gunnleifur Gunnleifsson just missed out on a place in the Iceland squad for Euro 2016.Gunnleifur Gunnleifsson just missed out on a place in the Iceland squad for Euro 2016.

Gunnleifsson might have missed out on a spot within the 23-man squad however he has watched on from afar because the workforce continues to shock.

“As a toddler, I would watch the World Cup and Euros on tv and suppose, ‘I am by no means going to see Iceland play there.’

“We went near qualifying for the final World Cup however everyone seems to be so comfortable now.”

The success of Iceland’s soccer workforce won’t solely increase the profile of the nation however may even encourage the world’s largest golf equipment to extend their scouting on the island.

Whereas a number of Icelandic gamers have gone on to play in England, the Netherlands and throughout Scandinavia, the race to signal the subsequent era appears set to start out now.

Subsequent era

One among Iceland’s main soccer brokers Olafur Gardarsson says the younger expertise being developed by the nation’s profitable teaching program is already catching the attention.

“Icelandic gamers at all times give 150% on the sphere and so they by no means complain concerning the climate or the meals,” he informed CNN.

“Once I first began out 19 years in the past I believed I might largely be transferring huge, sturdy defenders however now our gamers are extremely skilful and really dedicated.

“Plenty of the large golf equipment from Norway and Sweden have at all times taken gamers from Iceland but in addition golf equipment from England and the Netherlands.

“I believe after Iceland’s performances on the Euros that plenty of golf equipment from throughout Europe will now be coming to take a look at our gamers.”

Read: How tiny Iceland reached Europe’s pinnacle

Gardarsson cites the rising potential of the Underneath-16 and Underneath-17 groups, whereas the Underneath-21 workforce is unbeaten in its qualification marketing campaign for subsequent yr’s European Championship.

Iceland has roughly 600 certified coaches, 400 with Uefa B licences, or one per 825 individuals. To place this into context, in England this quantity falls to 1 per 11,000.

Teaching is on the very coronary heart of Iceland’s success and anyone teaching kids from the Underneath-10 degree upwards must have obtained a Uefa B license.

The soccer homes which have been launched in 2000 with high-tech amenities and 3G pitches allowed children to play indoors and never have to take a seat at house whereas the snow fell for months on finish.

Whereas the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson, the Swansea midfielder, remembers taking part in on parquet flooring, at present’s children are capable of prepare in state-of-the-art amenities courtesy of heavy funding by the Icelandic Soccer Affiliation.


Additionally essential to the event of Icelandic expertise is the necessity to transfer overseas so as to grow to be a full-time skilled.

Whereas England chosen a squad and not using a single foreign-based participant, Icelandic skills have little alternative however to fly the nest.

Fans have been watching the action unfold on big screens in Reykjavik.Fans have been watching the action unfold on big screens in Reykjavik.

“It’s important to do not forget that in Iceland you may solely play on grass for 3 or 4 months of the yr,” stated Gardarsson.

“While you go overseas you may play on grass all yr spherical, you play with higher gamers that helps you enhance.

“It signifies that the standard of our gamers is a lot better now and whereas I am sensible, we do not have 11 or 15 world class gamers but, it is OK as a result of the Icelandic workforce will not be a set of people.

“We’re sensible to know that it will not be a stroll within the park for us to achieve the subsequent World Cup or Euros however we have now an excellent likelihood now.”

Whereas Iceland’s future appears vivid, few are trying additional than Sunday and the sport with France.

The house aspect will begin as large favourite and can get pleasure from large backing from the vast majority of the 80,000 crowd packed contained in the Stade de France.

However Johannesson, who received the election final Sunday with 39.1% of the vote and can take up his position in workplace on August 1, is assured of his workforce’s possibilities.

He remembers the times when a defeat by three or 4 targets could be heralded as an ethical victory. These days are lengthy gone.

“Whether or not the gamers come house after this match or every time they arrive house they are going to be given a heroes’ welcome,” stated Johannesson. “They are going to be greeted on the airport and they are going to be heroes.”

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