Euro 2016: Iceland fans greet football team with incredible Viking chant
The Iceland football team were greeted in a grand manner when they returned home on Monday after a magical run in Euro 2016, where they reached the quarter-finals and lost to France. They defeated the likes of Austria and England and stunned everyone to make it out of the group stages. Football fans were expecting that the team would do another Leicester City but were shown the door by the hosts. The plane carrying the players flew low over their capital Reykjavik, before landing at Keflavik airport. The local fire services gave them a fire hose guard of honour by creating a rainbow by shooting water.
Icelandic striker Kolbeinn Sightorsson said,”It was a dream come true to get that” in front of about 30,000 people who followed the national team in France and cheered for them throughout. “We experienced something simply wonderful, it was a dream come true and we are proud to have brought such cheer to our country.”
According to the reports of Agence France-Presse, the players were paraded through the streets of Reykjavik on a bus towards Arnarholl Park, to celebrate the moment with their fans and sing the famous Viking war chant.
The Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson was also part of the celebration. “Fairy Tales still exists! It’s rare - If indeed this has ever happened - to unite us Icelanders as you did on the football pitch.” he said in the capital.
The players sang the “huh” in front of the massive gathering as their Swedish coach Lars Lagerback watched it all along. Iceland has a population of a little over 3,30,000 and is the smallest nation, by population to qualify for the European Championships. Over 27,000 people moved to France for the Euro 2016, which is about 8% of their population.
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Of the thousands who followed the team to France, 23-year-old August Ingi Kristjansson said,” They react with pride even after defeat. They did not give up, they returned as heroes.” Another enthusiast Sverrir Gardarsson said, ”I’m just so proud! What will happen next? We will rule the world!”
Due to cold temperatures, the pitches in Iceland remain frozen for the seven months. The Icelandic first division football league is played between May and September. They have joint coaches for the national team. Lars Lagerback had managed Nigeria before, while Heimir Hallgrimsson is a part-time dentist and a former coach of Iceland’s first division team IBV.
Inspite of such circumstances, they have moved up 100 places in the FIFA rankings in the past five years. In Euro 2016, Iceland has emerged as the new powerhouse of European Football.