There are two Nordic nations in this year’s European Championship.
Iceland is the star going into this year’s tournament, which begins this week in France. The Nordic minnow – which with a population of 320,000 has a limited pool of talent – made history after qualifying for the tournament after a string of victories against the likes of Turkey and the Netherlands.
The country is the smallest by population size to ever reach a major tournament and have won accolades as a result of the improbable nature of their victory. Eiður Guðjohnsen is undoubtedly the country’s most famous player. While at 37 he is no spring chicken, at earlier stints in his career he played for the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona.
The success of Iceland in reaching the tournament has drawn comparisons with Leicester, the English premier league dwarf which created one of the greatest upsets in sporting history when they won the 20150-2016 premier league title.
If Iceland are looking for inspiration, they could take heart from the example of Denmark, which in 1992 became the first Nordic nation to win the championship after crushing neighbour Germany 2-0 in the final.
Don’t forget Zlatan
While the inclusion of fellow Nordic nation Sweden is not as much of an event as the Icelandic miracle, the football-mad nation is likely to inspire a passionate response from its devout fans.
The country’s most famous player – and possibly the most famous Swede for most under 30s is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Malmo-born 34 year old striker is currently a free agent after a four year stint at Paris Saint-Germain.
Sweden completed a strong tournament for the Nordics in 1992 when they came fourth. They have appeared at five previous tournaments.