Diego Johannesson (born Villaviciosa, Asturias, 1993) isn’t your average LaLiga player. Born to an Icelandic father and a Spanish mother, he showed promise at a young age playing as a pacy winger playing across the region. ‘Diegui’ as he was known then, caught the eye of Real Oviedo. With the Carbayones, he switched to right-back and also underwent another transformation – team coach Sergio Egea recommended that he change his professional name and ‘Diegui’ became Johannesson. The Argentine coach told him that by adopting his paternal name, he could enhance his career and he was proved right – yesterday, the player gained his first call-up for the Iceland national team.
The 22-year-old will miss Saturday’s crunch meeting with Alavés but for a good reason – he will be with the Iceland squad In California for a friendly against the USA on Sunday. Iceland’s technical team and coaches Lars Lagerbäck and Heimir Hallgrímsson want to take a closer look at the player before they formulate their squad for this summer’s EURO 2016 in France.
Johannesson made just 13 appearances for Oviedo last season but it has been in the current campaign when he has come into his own. While first choice full-backs José Manuel Fernández and Nacho López have been out injured, the youngster was brought in from the reserves, making his senior debut in Ponferrada, in Week 10. He has remained in the starting XI since then.
His performances caught the attention of the Icelandic Football Federation, who contacted his family to find out about his situation. After registering with Icelandic authorities, a procedure which automatically grants nationality to the offspring of Icelandic parents, Johannesson is ready and raring to go.