Iceland: History

Written by Brian Koh


Iceland is one of the very few teams that will record their very first appearance at Euro. There is no doubt that many fans around the world were surprised to see this country on the list of teams, not to mention how excited the home fans themselves would be. In fact, Iceland is the smallest nation ever to reach a major international tournament.

Were you surprised to see the name “Iceland” from the list of teams? Let’s be honest. I was. However, some experts say the pillars of this golden age of Iceland started to build up way back in the early 2000’s.

In the early 2000’s Iceland Football Association started a long-term reform project which included building indoor football fields that can let young players play regardless of the weather and increased its spending on training new coaches. This resulted in successfully establishing a youth system they never had before. As a result, those “indoor kids” succeeded in qualifying for the 2011 U-21 World Cup for the first time in the history of Iceland football and showed some impressive plays. The same key players that achieved that feat have done it again to win the right to play in France this year.


Road to Qualification

Iceland’s road to qualifications was a mix of surprises and some disappointments that made them just enough to qualify. First of all, they beat the Netherlands. Not once, but TWICE. Iceland was indeed the best contributor in kicking out the Netherlands from the tournament.

However, like most of the young and emerging teams, Iceland’s performance has not been so stable. Toward the end of the qualifiers, Iceland started to show their instability as they tied with Kazakhstan and Latvia in two straight games. In their final game against Turkey, they suffered from an almost-buzzer beater and lost 1-0. Still, Iceland was able to finish 2nd overall in qualifying group A.

How to cite this page: “Iceland: History”, Written by Brian Koh(2016). European Cup 2016 Guide, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, (accessed on (date)).