1. Iceland is an underdog
Only four years ago Iceland had a world ranking in the 130’s. The Icelandic national team recently beat England, the nation that is considered the godfather of football. Iceland qualified for the quarter finals in the Euro 2016. This astonishing accomplishment is truly amazing for a country of only 330.000 people.
Before Iceland, Slovenia were the smallest nation to qualify for the Euros, with its population of 2 million. An amazing statistic to consider is that the 23 players in the squad are a stunning 0.05 % of all males aged 18 – 35 in Iceland.
2. The Icelandic commentator
Guðmundur Benediktsson or Gummi Ben as he is better known as in Iceland went extremely viral with his very emotional commentary when Iceland scored a late winner against Austria. His reaction sums up the atmosphere in every Icelandic living room.
Once a talented footballer who played for his nation, Gummi has stated that experiencing this adventure that the Icelandic team is living is a dream come true for him. Benediktsson was the assistant manager of struggling Icelandic team KR Reykjavik, until the club fired him four days after he achieved internet stardom. Despite that he was back in the commentator’s chair for the England game and reacted with an appropriate meltdown after Kolbeinn Sigthorsson scored the winning goal.
3. The Icelandic national team coaching staff
England’s defeat against Iceland saw coach Roy Hodgson resign. His contract, that was due to run out, was reported to be a $4.6 million per year deal. The 68-year-old was the highest-paid coach at Euro 2016.
Helping deliver this kick in the teeth was Heimir Hallgrimsson, who has kept up his job as a dentist in the Westman islands despite being the manager of the Icelandic national team. Hallgrimsson will take over after his joint head coach Lars Lagerback, a talented Swede who has managed teams since the 1970s, steps down at the end of the tournament. Iceland recently held its election for president. In that election Lars Lagerback got 30 votes without being on the ballot.
4. The Icelandic fans
Around 30.000 Icelanders have purchased tickets for the UEFA Euro 2016 in France and seen their countrymen accomplish amazing things. That is around 10 % of the country’s population. The interest in the team is not only in France. About 10.000 people or 3 % of the nation was gathered on a square to watch the match against England.
Around 70 % of the country is estimated to have watched the country’s dramatic 2-1 win over Austria a 99.9 percent TV audience share for that evening. We are amazed and want to know what the 0.1 percent were watching.
5. The country needs it
Euro2016 has allowed Icelanders to rediscover their sense of pride and togetherness after 2008’s financial crisis. The recent scandal revolving around the Panama papers has also been tough for the nation to deal with. Now Ex-Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned after the leak showed his wife owned an offshore firm connected to the country’s collapsed banks. Despite being not the most popular person Gunnlaugsson attended all of Iceland´s matches in France as was spotted taking part in the celebration with supporters.