We take a look at the links between Rovers and the smallest country in this upcoming FIFA World Cup, Iceland.
Iceland are competing in their first World Cup Finals and they are, population wise, the smallest country ever to reach the finals.
Two of the provisional Icelandic squad have opposed Rovers in League football. Kári Árnason, born in Gotheburg, Sweden in October 1982, has 65 caps to his name and was in the Plymouth Argyle side which won 3-2 at The Mem in January 2011.
Gylfi Sigurðsson, who was born in Reykjavik and has 55 caps to his name, was alongside Byron Moore in the Crewe Alexandra side which drew 1-1 with Rovers at Gresty Road in March 2009; Darryl Duffy scored Rovers’ goal.
Whilst no Icelandic player has ever pulled on the blue and white quartered shirt, incredibly no fewer than 18 Icelandic international players have opposed Rovers in the Football League. The first to do so was giant central defender Hermann Hreiðarsson, born in July 1974, who was sent off at The Mem in August 1999, during Brentford’s goalless draw with Rovers, for a foul on Jason Roberts two minutes from time. He won 89 caps for Iceland.
Pirates in Iceland
Three Rovers players are known to have furthered their footballing careers in Iceland.
The former Rovers midfielder Bo Henriken joined Valur Reykjavik in May 2005 from Danish football and later played for Fram and for IBV. He played for Fram against his former club Valur in the 2005 Icelandic Cup Final, which was lost 1-0.
Striker Moussa Dagnogo was at KR Reykjavik in 2001 after leaving Rovers, scoring five goals in 19 matches for his new club.
Another striker Sergio Ommel, who was Rovers’ second highest scorer in 2001/02, had previously spent 15 months from August 2000 at KR Reykjavik, for whom he played ten times.
With new owners, Stoke City enjoyed a rapid influx of Icelandic players around the turn of the Millennium.
Rovers played the Potteries side twice each in the 1999/2000 and 2000/01 seasons in what is now League One, Stoke fielding eight Icelandic players across those fixtures.
All eight of these players won international caps for their country. Amongst their number were Birkir Kristinsson and Brynjar Gunnarsson, who both won 74 full caps, as well as Sigursteinn Gíslasson (1968-2012), who sadly died of cancer aged only 43.