EURO 2016 | ICELAND
Iceland draw with Kazakhstan and qualify for Euro 2016
The country, with just 331,000 people, will be the smallest ever in population terms to take part in a major tournament.
Iceland made European football history tonight. The land of Bjork, the midnight sun, volcanoes, geysers and natural thermal baths, the country with the highest percentage of readers and books in Europe, a state with no army and hardly any murders, but above all a nation of just 331,000 inhabitants, the eighth lowest in Europe, will be at Euro 2016.
It’s the first major tournament for the enthralling Scandinavian isle, after they drew 0-0 with Kazakhstan in a match that will go down in history, for what it means, rather than the football on display.
Such a tiny nation has never before played with continent’s elite as Iceland will do next summer in France. The country’s 331,000 inhabitants, the same as the small city of Alicante here in Spain, will get to watch a side that came close to qualifying for the last World Cup – falling in the play-off to Croatia.
The Icelandic miracle began when this generation arrived at the Under 21 European Championships. Gislason, Gunnarson, Bjarnason, Gudmundsson, Sigurdsson, Sigthorsson and Finnbogason were all there. The leap to the full national side and the perfect level of maturity has give Iceland a brilliant qualifying stage, crowned by the result against Kazakhstan that was enough to see them through.
When the final whistle went, under the Icelandic rain, the joy of the Icelanders in the small Laugardalsvöllur stadium could hardly be contained.