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Gylfi - not Siggy! - from an Icelandic viewpoint

onlyheretowatchtheswans:

First of let me start by saying that I find it funny that you call him Siggy. Siggy would be a common nick name for his dad. In Iceland it‘s all about the first names. He‘s know as simply Gylfi or Gylfi Sig. Gylfi is not the best name for nick naming in Iceland but from an historic standpoint it‘s a very old name and earliest records say that the first even king in Scandinavia was called Gylfi.

Anyways. What you have in Gylfi is probably the best Icelandic player out there at the moment and he‘ll only get better. He‘s a model professional and he‘s been dedicated for a very long time. When Icelandic kids are 12-14 they get their first taste of working. During the summer the huge majority of kids work 4-6 hours a day for 6 weeks for peanuts by doing yard work on city/town property (schools etc.). Gylfi said to his parents that he didn‘t want to do that but he wanted to practise football instead. And his parents let him do that (great faith from them). So since he was 12 years old he‘s been practicsing 1-3 hours per day. He‘s always had the work ethic and on a professional level he‘s the same as Giggs or Raúl or any of the best.

When he got a bit older his older brother helped him out. His brother had been a fine footballer for his age (think he‘s about 4-5 years older) but quit and took up golf instead. Now Gylfi isn‘t training alone anymore. It‘s a massive help with passing and shooting, traits where he excells at. He trained with his brother many days per week until he went to Reading when he was 18. That‘s about 4 years of that. His brother also taught him a lot of golf and I believe his handicap is 2 or 3 now. So he‘s very good in more things than football.

Since joining Reading he was always dedicated to play his way into the PL. He came there young and unknown to anything but Icelandic football. You see in Iceland everyone knows the best players from a very young age. Kolbeinn Sigþórsson (who plays for Ajax) was known over all Iceland when he was 6 years old. There‘s a big tournament where all the kids in age group 7-8 go an play each other in the biggest tournament of the country. Kolbeinn played in that tournament 3 times and was voted the best in his last one. It‘s a huge thing for a kid that age. Players that end up being chosen the best player of the tournament have almost always gone and played professionally. In my two years there we had Bjarni Viðarsson (now playing in Belgium, former Everton player) and Arnor Smárason (plays for Esbjerg in Denmark and former Herenveen player.). Both of them are Icelandic internationals and a certain to be Gylfi‘s midfield partners. Gylfi however is the only player I know of who‘s made it big who wasn‘t very well known amongst his peers. It‘s evident by the number of U-17 and U-18 games he‘s played. That‘s because his talents weren‘t the most „chosen“ ones at his age group. But don‘t get me wrong. He played next to Bjarn Viðarsson and they cleaned up all the trophies. He then changed teams (most likely because of moving houses, that‘s normally why you change teams in Iceland) and cleaned up there with the team who‘s currently got the best youth set up in the country. So it‘s no wonder English scouts took a shine to him ahead of the normal Dutch or Scandinavian scouts.

That takes us back to Reading. Like I said, he was unknown to English football so the sensible thing was to loan him out. He scored on his debut for Crewe and did well in an otherwise poor team. Another short loan to Shrewsbury the same season where he also did well. I don‘t know If I need to go into his achievements the next season. But with Reading he of course became their top scorer and best player that season. Then got sold for a Reading and Icelandic record fee, somewhere in the vicinity of 7-8 million, to Hoffenheim. Again, top scorer and best player, despite having his majority of appearances as a sub. The reason for him being loaned are a bizarre move by the current manager. Rangnick is the one who bought him but he quit due to the club selling players without informing him. Any who, he was injured last summer after the Euro U-21 tournament and so missed the whole pre-season so it was natural that he didn‘t play at all the first two months. Have no idea why he hasn‘t featured more and frankly, neither does he. I met him last time last winter during the break in the German league, when he came on a football show I was working at (Basically Icelandic version of MotD). The players there know little what‘s going on with the Hoffenheim management. Manager doesn‘t talk much to the players and he didn‘t even know exactly when the training would resume because they hadn‘t decided yet.

So when I read that Swansea had snapped him up on a loan I was delighted for him. With his skills he should quickly get into the team and get a lot of playing time. Also, Swansea is the team that plays one of the best football in the league. Don‘t think there‘s a better match for him in the league. His set pieces are magnificent. I said it 2 years ago that in 5-6 years time he‘ll be the top 5 set pieces taker in the world. His most underrated skill is probably his dribbling. He isn‘t a very quick player. His pace is fine but he‘s got a bit slow start to him. That‘s mainly the reason he‘s optimal in the role behind the striker but he works fine on the wing and can really cover every position in midfield. When you have his passing and vision you‘ll cope.

I just wanted to give you a sneak into Icelandic football culture and why Gylfi is where he‘s at today. 100% hard work. Practise, practise, practise. A comparison to David Beckham wouldn‘t be unfair. Beckham is ultimately a better passer but I think they both possess a lot of the same qualities.

If you guys have any question I‘ll be happy to answer them. My name is Snow on redcafe and my football credentials is 16 years or practising and playing it and working for 7 years at broadcasting football and football programs and television. I‘ve even been so lucky to interview a PL player live on camera despite working behind the scenes. That doesn‘t mean I got anymore knowledge than anyone else, I just like to think that I‘m above the „talking-out-of-my-arse“ level of football knowledge. That‘s why I thought this would be appropriate little piece for your forum because I looked up Gylfi, found his discussions here and like the cut of your jib.

〒▽〒 Gylfi

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