Iceland hero Eidur Gudjohnsen has revealed how the Euro 2016 minnow was geed up ahead the Round of 16 meeting with England – by manager Lars Lagerback saying “we are playing the most overrated national team side.”
The representatives from an island of 330,000 deservedly beat the Three Lions 2-1 in June, marking both one of the most embarrassing exits and exposing decades of underachievement for England.
Following an elimination which fell significantly below the country’s often lofty expectations – particularly given the supposed lowly opposition – Roy Hodgson stepped down from the England helm after the final whistle.
“This is something Lars Lagerbeck pointed out,” said Gudjohnsen.
“(That) in recent years we are playing against the most overrated national team side – looking back it is true.”
The 38-year-old added: “There is always so much pressure for them to do well at a major championship and they haven’t for a long time.”
Gudjohnsen, an indefatigable and intelligent forward who’s turned out for Chelsea and Barcelona in a well-travelled career, was used sparingly at the tournament due to aging legs and a starting XI which seemed unimpeachable given Strakarnir okkar’s spirited performances.
Related: Why we should get used to Iceland at major tournaments
Since the summer competition, Iceland’s cohesive unit marches on. A 3-2 win was clinched Thursday against Finland courtesy of Ragnar Sigurdsson – whose concentration and work ethic in defence was emblematic of Iceland’s Euro 2016 quarter-final charge – bundling home a late winner.
Somewhat remarkably, England will play under its second manager since Hodgson stepped down in Saturday’s visit from Malta. Gareth Southgate has assumed interim duty due to Sam Allardyce being shown the exit after being involved in The Telegraph’s “Football for Sale” sting.
Following that weekend Wembley tilt is a trip to Slovenia three days later in Group F of 2018 World Cup qualification.