Old hand Eidur Gudjohnsen makes triumphant return for Iceland
Iceland coach Lars Lagerback`s decision to tempt Eidur Gudjohnsen out of international retirement paid off handsomely in Kazakhstan, with the 36-year-old scoring his first goal in over five years for his country in a 3-0 win.
Kazakhstan: Iceland coach Lars Lagerback`s decision to tempt Eidur Gudjohnsen out of international retirement paid off handsomely in Kazakhstan, with the 36-year-old scoring his first goal in over five years for his country in a 3-0 win.
The Bolton Wanderers striker may be in the twilight of his career but his experience with Chelsea, Barcelona and Monaco, among others, is invaluable as Iceland seek to qualify for Euro 2016 and reach a major finals for the first time.
"That`s why we pick him, he`s still a really good footballer," Lagerback told reporters following his side`s impressive Euro 2016 qualifying victory in Astana.
"We were expecting a game where we would hopefully keep the ball a little bit more, and that`s the reason we picked him in the starting XI."
The well-travelled goal poacher is back in English football at Bolton, where his role is very similar to that which he now has in the national team -- a steady hand at the tiller when his side are likely to have a lot of possession.
Gudjohnsen took 20 minutes to repay Lagerback`s faith in him, latching on to Johann Gudmundsson`s pass before finishing smartly for his first international goal since netting against Norway in a home World Cup qualifier in September 2009.
"It`s quite a long time since I last scored -- I scored none in the last qualifiers, so it was great. I think that our first goal gave us a lot, it was very important to get it," he told reporters.
Birkir Bjarnason then scored twice to give Iceland a comfortable victory, putting them in second place in Group A on 12 points, one point behind leaders the Czech Republic.
Gudjohnsen`s goal and the victory completed a triumphant return from his self-imposed exile from international football, declared after Iceland narrowly lost out to Croatia in a playoff for a spot at the 2014 World Cup.
Having won league titles in Netherlands, England and Spain, all that is missing from the striker`s CV is an appearance at a major international tournament.
Despite a gap of over five years between his most recent international goals, nothing would please Iceland`s record scorer more than finding the net if the nation of 300,000 people manage to qualify for the 2016 finals in France.
Asked whether he would be involved in future squads, with Iceland due to host group leaders the Czech Republic in June, Gudjohnsen said: "I haven`t begun to think that far yet.
"We went for this first and foremost, to put us in a position to play for the top spot in the next game. Now we are ready to put ourselves in that position, so we`ll just take it as it comes."