How did Iceland so far a Euro 2016?
How Iceland made it to the top so far in the EM
A lot happened during the UEFA world cup. But most importantly, Iceland scored big during the UEFA cup. Isn’t it impressive how well Iceland did, even though their country is not really that big? Certainly there’s a lot of luck too involved when it’s about scoring and winning a match, but what Iceland accomplished was more than just beginners luck. This article is a quick overview about the accomplishments of the Icelandic team and tries to explain how the Nordic soccer player could have achieved this great performance while being in the UEFA Europe cup for the first time in the history of their country.
A different background
We know the typical soccer stars worldwide. Raised under poor conditions, they mostly switch to a better lifestyle after being discovered by huge football teams. Even though many of them may come from a poor background, often they adapt themselves to a lifestyle full of luxury, attention and fame quickly. It’s not surprising as soccer players often even get benefits from acting and playing their role too much – just think about the reaction of the referee when a player cries like he just gave birth to a children after he only got kicked not even that hard. But that’s football and it’s in the mind of the players.
In the meantime, Icelandic players aren’t familiar with these conditions. They never received such an enormous amount of attention and fame as players like Christiano Ronaldo for example do. Instead, they played under harsh conditions outdoor but with an outstanding fighter-mentality. It’s exactly this mentality, connected with the fact that they played most of their days outside – just think of the Icelandic weather for a few moments – that makes them much tougher than most other players are. If you compare the face expressions of Ronaldo and the players of the Icelandic team, you will significantly see the difference. In a nutshell, there’s an energy in them like there hardly is in any other team.
A united team
In many teams of the UEFA cup, the team wasn’t really united. They weren’t bounded together like a family, instead each and every one of them were just focused on being the most outstanding player. Something that does not help when there’s teamwork required. As an example, Portugal doesn’t have many choices. There’s Christiano Ronaldo and besides him, everyone focuses on shooting the ball to the next guy. Until there’s Ronaldo who often brilliantly shoots a goal. If Ronaldo is missing, there are few other choices who could really help the team win a match. While Iceland actually focuses on working together and standing united against the “bigger” soccer enemy teams. There’s not just one player who scores all the time but there are at least two players who achieve goals. There are other talents who don’t only count on these two but play with full enthusiasm on themselves.
Think about the situation of Iceland when they went to the UEFA europe cup to France. They were the first team in Iceland that has the privilege of playing in the UEFA Europe cup. They are highly motivated as their citizens are counting on them. They are being proud as Iceland – a small country with a total amount of inhabitants of just 330 thousand people – has the chance to compete against the monsters of soccer in Europe. An impressive chance, isn’t it? They thought so and knew that they have to give everything in order to stand a chance against teams that played at international clubs and received wages of more than a million dollars every year. They know how professional they are and they knew from the very beginning that they only stand a chance of being them by being as enthusiastic and passionate about soccer as they can be.
Just think about their players. Think about their manager. Many people of the supporters, managers, etc. have another job in the meantime. The coach of the team didn’t make a living being a football coach, he did it creating animation videos while pushing his team forward. Their goalkeeper has a regular dayjob and still functions better than most other goalkeeper did. It’s this connection to the normal, everyday life that people of the middle and working class live, that makes the Icelandic team more humble and more motivated than for example a team that trains and gets paid the entire year while not seeing any other people than their teammates. It’s the difference between fighting for the performance of your country and fighting because your net worth as a football player is going to increase if you do so. The simplicity and braveness most Icelandic players had in their attitude made it possible to come that far.
Why they finally lost
Even though motivation, enthusiasm and a true comradeship combined with outstanding talents can help a lot, you can’t necessarily win everything just by being like that. France finally beat them in a pretty harsh match. France lost 2-5, but the Icelandic team kept on fighting until the very last minute. It’s impressive how motivated they were, knowing that half Europe is watching how the team of this little country is losing but still struggeling and fighting to come further and possibly win the game, even after the France shot four goals. That’s what we have to respect the Icelandic team for.
Author: Lukas – Austria