An Italian journalist has made headlines here in Iceland recently for his interview with the President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Johannesson. The piece appeared in a prominent Italian sports magazine La Gazzetta Dello Sport.
Italians still nurse the hope to replicate Italy’s memorable victory in 2006 and to relive the happiness they felt when Fabio Grosso scored the decisive goal against Germany. Or even better, the legendary victory of 1982, when Italians all over the country hopped on their Fiat Pandas and paraded through the streets with flags and chants.
This year, however, Italy did not manage to qualify for the World Cup, so they’ve decided to adopt Iceland as their own team and will be therefore watching with bated breath from the sidelines as Iceland’s Smiters wreak havoc on the field.
— Filippo Conticello (@FilippoCont) May 29, 2018
La Gazzetta has been supporting Iceland for a while now, promoting the hashtag #ForzaIslanda on Twitter, so it was only natural for them send journalist Filippo Conticello to meet devout Iceland supporter Guðni Th. Johannesson. As the Vikings who stole the heart of Italy get ready to smite their first enemies, Conticello and Guðni talked about the team, and the lively friendship between the two countries.
“I’ve heard that La Gazzetta dello Sport has adopted us,” Guðni says. “We’re happy and honoured that you, good people of Italy, have decided to cheer for us. We’re the new Azzurri—the Azzurri from the North.”
— Filippo Conticello (@FilippoCont) May 28, 2018
In the iconic pink-hued pages of La Gazzetta, Conticello and Guðni discuss the value of sport, the qualities of the Icelandic people, the culinary abomination that is ananas on pizza, and even a little politics. Guðni recounted his days spent in Italy during the 1982 World Cup, drawing similarities between the two teams.
“People are interested into seeing our boys give everything they’ve got, and then we’ll welcome them back like heroes, like you did with your own own in 1982,” Guðni explains. “Otherwise, who knows. Two years ago, I was in Nice when we won against England, and it was the best day of my life.”
“But how did this miracle take place?” Conticello finally asks, about our Iceland’s mighty presence on the field.
“We’ve invested in infrastructures and the training of our football coaches and now we’ve had a united team: no superstars, only excellent players,” Guðni answers diplomatically. “We’ve always drawn strength from our desire to be united, but football has ultimately helped us discover the idea of brotherhood: I’ve learnt that from the Italian people.”