Before Iceland boarded the longship to Russia, we went deep into the lava fields outside of Reykjavík to the horde’s secret battle camp. They were practising manoeuvres and shield walls, running through spiky rocks, and wrestling mad horses in preparation for the World Cup. Some players took a few moments now and then to come to the sidelines, chug a bottle of Einstök, and chat.
Here’s what star attacker Gylfi Sigurðsson had to say about Iceland’s chances at the FIFA World Cup 2018.
What are Iceland’s game plans for the coming matches?
“We have to work hard for each other to make sure we get results. We know a lot of the other teams are better than us technically, so we have to make up for it by working hard and working together. Playing for my country is something I’m very proud of, and working hard for the team is something we all have to do.”
What will Iceland bring to the table?
“Other teams will find it very hard to deal with us and the way we play, and it’ll be hard to break us down. We’re very organised, we’re very aware of what we’re doing, we have good players who can score goals. I wouldn’t say we’re direct, but we know what we’re doing, and we don’t waste any time doing it.”
How do you feel about the Viking moniker that’s been doing the rounds?
“It’s not something we’re looking for, but obviously it is nice. A long time ago, most of us probably were Vikings. It sums up how we play pretty well.”
And how about Aron?
“He’s a proper Viking. I’m the complete opposite. Look at me!”
What does being at the World Cup mean for Iceland, and for you personally?
“It’s fantastic, as soon as I got to Iceland and I could see how excited everyone is. For the younger kids, having their own country playing in the World Cup is special. It’s something I never experienced when I was young, but now I’ll be playing in a World Cup—I can only imagine what it feels like for the younger kids to watch us playing for their country in Russia.”
What do you think Iceland has that other teams perhaps lack?
“We’ve played together for so long, we know each other really well. Maybe not having as big a pool of players worked to our advantage, because we played together for so long. A lot of these guys are best friends, and that’s a big advantage to us.”