May 26, 2016

    Iceland no longer left out in the cold


    Iceland will be appearing at a major football finals for the first time after finishing second in qualifying Group A behind the Czech Republic.

    They beat the Netherlands home and away, contributing to a surprise failure to qualify by the Dutch.

    With a population of around 330,000, Iceland are by far the smallest nation ever to qualify for the European Championship. Almost a quarter of the entire population could fit inside the Stade de France, where the Euro 2016 final will be played on July 10.

    The senior team's success follows that of the country's under-21 side, who appeared at a European Championship in the age group for the first time in Denmark in 2011. They were eliminated in the group phase, losing to Belarus and Switzerland before netting a consolation victory against Denmark.

    That squad featured members of the current full side, such as Gylfi Sigurdsson, Alfred Finnbogason and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson.

    Now 37 and still playing with Molde in Norway, former Chelsea and Barcelona forward Eidur Gudjohnsen is one of the greatest footballers to come out of Iceland.

    As the all-time record goal-scorer, he helped make history when he came on for Iceland as a 17-year-old in a friendly win over Estonia in 1996. He replaced his father Arnor, making it the first time a father and son had featured in the same international match.

    If Iceland find the net against any of their opponents at Euro 2016, they could do worse than take a lead out of club side Stjarnan's book when it comes to celebrating.

    The 2014 Icelandic league champions made a name for themselves internationally with their goal celebrations, which have been made into hit compilations on YouTube with millions of views.

    Highlights include the toilet celebration, swimming, the bobsled, the bicycle and the giving birth celebration.