Iceland is a small island with 350,000 inhabitants living there. It’s also a fantastically cool place that cranks out some great musical artists but also has some amazing geography like the Blue Lagoon, Geysers, and waterfalls.
They’ve never been known as a powerhouse in soccer and, in fact, the Euro 2016 tournament is the first major tournament they’ve ever qualified for. It makes yesterday’s match all the more improbable.
In Iceland’s previous two matches, they had managed to eek out two ties. In their final match of the preliminary rounds, Iceland was tied with Austria 1-1 in their final match of the group trying to make it to the round of 16 in the Euro 2016 championships. A victory would help ensure their advancement.
In the 3rd minute of a 4-minute extra time, the Icelandic team started a counter attack and scored a goal with mere seconds left to win 2-1 and ensure their place in the round of 16.
To better understand the hysteria surrounding how important this victory was for them, listen to the Icelandic commentator Guðmundur Benediktsson (“Gummi Ben”) call of those final moments.
For those of who don’t speak Icelandic (myself included), he said:
“It’s all open! Theodór Elmar is alone here on their side of the pitch. They are three on two! Emmi (short for Elmar)! Go into the box! Go into the box! EMMI! Ahhh… Yes… yaaaaa… yaaaaaaaaa… JAAAAA… JAAAAA… Jarghaah… we are winning this! We are through to the final 16! We are through to the final 16! We are winning Austria! The voice has gone! But that doesn´t matter! We have qualified! Arnór Ingvi Traustason scores! Iceland two Austria one! Þvílíkt og annað eins*! Þvílíkt og annað eins! What? The final whistle has been blown here, and never, ever have I felt so good! Arnór Yngvi Traustason securing our first victory! Never lost! Don’t forget… never lost! But the first victory a fact! Iceland two Austria one! Thanks for coming Austria! Thanks for coming!”
The Icelandic squad will now match up with perennial powerhouse England on Monday. Regardless of the outcome of that match, Iceland has secured their place in soccer lore with their first advancement and their announcer’s epic call.