Updated (7/5/2016): Iceland’s historic Euro run has come to an end, but not before the world fell in love with the small country with a big heart.
After two hard-fought victories to advance to the quarter-finals against France, Iceland fell to the host nation of the Euro 2016 Tournament. After Sunday’s late afternoon loss, there was still a large amount of support from sports analysts and fans alike. Iceland stole the hearts of thousands throughout their journey and will look to make a stunning return in the 2020 tournament. The Icelandic National Football Team returned home Monday, July 4th to a heroes welcome. Watch the arrival video shared by thousands below.
Iceland’s soccer team has shocked the world with two incredible wins over Austria and England to advance to the quarter-finals in the Euro 2016 tournament. Here is a list of reasons why you should be excited that Iceland has moved on to the final eight! The next game is this Sunday, July 3 at 3:00pm ET. Áfram Ísland! Iceland Naturally is giving away a free Iceland soccer jersey, along with products from Blue Lagoon and Icelandic Glacial, to one lucky fan who guesses the correct score of Sunday’s game! Tweet us @IcelandNatural with your predictions before the game starts!
They defied the odds
With a population of only 332,750, Iceland set the record for the smallest nation to ever qualify for a major international soccer competition. Before Iceland, the smallest country to qualify was Slovenia with its population of 2 million.
There are no professional football clubs in Iceland
While all of the countries featured in the tournament have players that are on professional clubs, none of Iceland’s Euro 2016 group play soccer in their homeland. In fact, there are no professional clubs in the country at all! With its icy climate, Iceland is too cold to sustain outdoor fields year round. Instead, they have to practice on indoor artificial fields with most of the players keeping up their day jobs outside soccer.
The country is dedicated to the team
Nearly 27,000 Icelanders bought tickets to watch their national team play in the European Championship. That’s more than eight percent of the population! For those who couldn’t make it to match, over half of all Icelanders were estimated to watch the Iceland vs. Austria game, representing 99.8% of the nation’s television audience.
Its commentators know how to celebrate a victory
In the game that pushed Iceland into the Round of 16, Icelandic commentator Gudmundur Benediktsson became famous worldwide with his joyous call of the game winning goal against Austria. Watch Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show, congratulate Iceland and its commentator on a job well done:
How will you be cheering on Iceland this Sunday, July 3rd when they take on France at 3pm ET? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @IcelandNatural! Áfram Ísland!