Eidur Gudjohnsen is preparing for “the biggest game in Iceland’s footballing history” but admits if his country are knocked out of Euro 2016 by England, he hopes Roy Hodgson’s men go on to lift the trophy.
The 37-year-old, who has managed just six minutes of action in France after coming off the bench in the latter stages of the Group F draw with Hungary, was a fans’ favourite in the Premier League, excelling at Chelsea and Bolton.
Gudjohnsen’s Iceland now come up against England in the last 16 of the European Championship and the veteran striker is wary of the threat posed by their opponents.
“To be facing England, for us, I think it’s fair to say it is a little bit special because English football has had a huge influence on Icelandic football and from when we grew up, and for generations, everyone in Iceland has supported a team in English football, so we feel a big connection to England in footballing terms,” he said.
“But I think the excitement lies more in the fact that we’re in the last 16 rather than who we are facing.”
Speaking in a pre-match press conference, he added: “I’m a little bit afraid that England have their best games still to come.
“In football anything is possible. We are realistic about the situation. We know that we are the underdog. We have shown why we are here, how we arrived here and we are going to do everything that we can to stay here.
“We’re going to play our game and give it everything we have and if we go one round further then it will be a very proud moment. If we don’t then I hope England win it.”
Gudjohnsen, who also played for Tottenham, Stoke and Fulham in England and enjoyed a fruitful spell at Barcelona, finds himself in a familiar situation ahead of the game, claiming team spirit has never been stronger in the Iceland camp.
He said: “I think for the last two years we have said before every single international that we’ve played that this is the biggest game in our footballing history and we are at this moment again.
“Yes that’s it, the biggest game in footballing history for Iceland.”