From Freddie Ljungberg to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer via Peter Schmeichel England has been a hotbed for the flourishing of Scandinavian talent and perhaps the best of the lot was Eidur Gudjohnsen.
He was always one of my heroes, and in my brief foray into a striker role from my goalkeeping homeland I often styled myself on Eidur’s play, or at least tried to, I even did the same celebration and had the same hair as the Icelandic ‘king of cool’.
A cult figure on our lands for his talismanic, casual style of play and big-game mentality he first made his mark playing alongside another young foreigner by the name of Ronaldo at PSV Eindhoven, but it ended with bitterness at the Dutch club after he was released amid prolonged bouts of tendinitis in his ankle.
He returned to Iceland with KR Reykjavik but it wasn’t long before Bolton Wanderers came calling and his performances for the side drew the lure of Chelsea and London, a call the Icelander could not refuse.
Since then he has become the biggest name from Iceland, apart from Eyjafjallajokull of course. His strike partnership with Dutchman Jimmy Flloyd Hasselbaink is still one of the best in Premier League history scoring memorable goals, including that special overhead kick against Leeds United. His agility, vision and close ball control saw Jose Mourinho install him in a deeper midfield role, as even though many of Abramovich’s early ‘mercenaries’ like Adrian Mutu, Hernan Crespo and Mateja Kezman came and went, Eidur Gudjohnsen remained.
His technical ability had never been in doubt and when Barcelona came calling in 2006 he jumped at the chance to play for the Catalan giants, and scored the winning goal on his debut against Celta Vigo.
Since he left Barca for Monaco things have turned sour; spells at Tottenham, Stoke and Fulham have followed and despite a high profile move to Greek side AEK Athens the financial troubles at the club saw him pushed out, part voluntarily.
While the easy option would be to join a club in China, Australia or the USA; which he almost did after a trial spell at Seattle Sounders; cash in on the image rights alone and slowly but surely disappear to the backdrop of football history Eidur has gone for a different tact, joining lowly Belgian outfit Cercle Brugge.
The Ice-man has claimed the move is a ‘lifestyle choice’ and that it is not a financial decision which is clear, as Cercle are certainly not a club blessed with deep pockets. He says he wants to inspire young players at the club and help the side on an off the pitch as he tries to revitalise a club that currently sits bottom of Belgium’s Jupiler League.
He joins fellow Icelander and friend Arnar Vidarsson at the club, and he hopes to lead Cercle out of the shadows of their more illustrious ‘city-mates’ of Club Brugges.
What is clear is Eidur is still well thought of across the world and as always he makes his decisions based purely on football, the true modern ‘anti-mercenary’.
Here is that stunning overhead kick and trademark celebration that personified Eidur Gudjohnsen’s class.
Any well-wishes for Eidur Gudjohnsen?