Iceland managed to hold the mighty Argentina to a draw in their Group D clash on Saturday, which is not bad for a country with a population of less than 350 000 people, which is less than the population of East Rand township Tembisa.
Their victory is even more incredible when you consider that their manager, Heimir Hallgrímsson, divides his career focus between football and dentistry.
Hallgrímsson started his career as a footballer while also serving as a dentist in his home village throughout his career. He continues to practice part-time despite having been made coach of the Icelandic national team after Euro 2016.
The Icelandic coach claims he performs dentistry in his spare time for fun.
In an interview with The Sun that ran the day before Iceland’s first match, the draw against Argentina, Hallgrímsson described dentistry as a hobby, similar to golfing.
“I still have my clinic, and I like to keep my fingers working. So I try to go there as much as I can in my spare time and do some dentistry. Some coaches go and play golf, I do dentistry. The reality of a football coach, you never know when you are out of a job, so it’s good to have another profession to jump into,” he said.
Amazingly, when Iceland beat England at Euro 2016, 8% of Iceland’s population – or 27000 people – was present at the match.
According to ESPN, “they spread their arms wide and clapped them over their heads in a Viking war chant, then stayed in place after the game to catch a final glimpse”.
The team’s TV ratings show a fanatical devotion to football. Roughly 99.8% of Iceland’s TV-watching population on the night of the Euro match against England watched the match.
ESPN also reports that Iceland President Guðni Johannesson himself is not immune to the football bug. A historian by profession, Johannesson once rescheduled a colloquium that he was supposed to attend in capital Reykjavik on the death of nationalism because Iceland was playing that night.
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