The Swans’ new Iceman
Arnor Gudjohnsen talks about following famous footsteps, Euro disappointment and World Cup dreams.
The Gudjohnsen name has been one of the most iconic in Icelandic football circles for decades.
Legendary striker Arnor Gudjohnsen made his name on the continent with SK Lokeren, Anderlecht and Bordeaux between the 1970s and 1990s before his son, Eidur, carried the torch for a new generation at Chelsea and Barcelona.
Now a new Icelandic youngster is hoping to make a name for himself in Wales with Swansea City’s Under-18s.
Teenager Arnor Gudjohnsen Jnr moved from his homeland last summer to join the Premier League academy side with ambitions of following in the footsteps of his dad Arnor Snr and half-brother Eidur, not to mention a national hero in the shape of Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The 17-year-old was born and raised into an Icelandic footballing dynasty with father Arnor Snr capped for his nation 73 times while Eidur enjoyed a superb club career and helped his nation excel at Euro 2016.
“Having my father and brother in football has definitely been a huge inspiration,” Gudjohnsen says.
“They are both players and people I look up to. My dad has taught me a lot throughout my career.
“There is so much good advice they have given me over the years. We always talk after games and he suggests what improvements I could make.
“The best advice they have given me is to keep going and believe in yourself.
“Of course, there and pros and cons to having the Gudjohnsen name.
“I get some great advice and guidance from my family who have experienced football at the highest level.
“But it can also add more pressure to deliver as I try to follow their footsteps because people expect me to be as good as my dad or brother.”
Growing up with a wealth of football talent around him, a young Gudjohnsen would take any opportunity to improve his skills with the ball, as highlighted by some archive home videos.
“Whenever I had free time I used to go out in my garden and practise my skills and techniques,” he says.
“It started when I moved to Barcelona with my family. I saw the Spanish players were technical and would work on their skills, so I just practised harder and tried to keep up with them.
“It was from there I started making videos. It was a hobby, something I did in my spare time. But people can still find them on YouTube.
“It just shows that practice does make perfect. It helps your touch and doing the small things helps you become a better player.”
Swansea City burst onto the midfielder’s radar when Sigurdsson rejoined in 2014.
The Liberty was home to one of Iceland’s biggest football icons and the young Gudjohnsen identified with the Swans’ attacking style of play.
When offered a trial last season, he jumped at the opportunity to link up with the academy.
“There was an immediate attraction to the club and academy,” he says. “I really liked the environment here and that was the main reason why I signed.
“Gylfi being here was probably the first thing I thought of when I heard Swansea were interested in me.
“He is my idol. I play a similar position and style to him, so he is a big player for me.
“I got to meet him just before he left. He told me that the club was a good environment for me to develop myself.
“The football in the UK is a higher level compared to Iceland where it is still mainly semi-professional.
“Even in just the first few months you recognise just how many talented players there are at the youth level.
“It is a much harder game compared to being in Iceland. But that is why I am here. I want to improve and play at a higher level.”
Iceland’s football team were in the limelight as they reach the quarter-final of Euro 2016.
Sadly, however, Arnor, did not make it to the tournament to see a game.
“It did hurt a bit not going,” he laughs. “Euro 2016 was unbelievable and a crazy experience for my country.
“I think everyone in Iceland went to see a game except me.
“I did not get to go because I was playing the league season with my old club - Breidablik - and I did not have time.
“It was disappointing for me because I really wanted to see them play, especially against England.
“But one day hopefully I will get to follow in my family’s footsteps and represent my nation at a Euro tournament or World Cup.
“It would be a dream come true. And now Iceland have qualified for our first World Cup, hopefully we can repeat our success and I can get to a game.”