Eidur Gudjohnsen, of course, is the answer to a well-known quiz question. Who was the first player to come on as a substitute for his own father in an international football match? What might be even more amazing is that it could happen again in a few years – Eidur’s son was one of the star players in the annual televised schoolboys tournament in the summer of 2008, captaining the Barcelona team.
Born in Reykjavik in 1978, Eidur Gudjohnsen was clearly always going to be a footballer and made his debut in the Icelandic League when he was only 16 years of age. After just 17 games for his club Valur, the player had done enough to earn a transfer to Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven. During his 2 seasons in Holland, however, Eidur suffered numerous injuries and was only able to complete 13 games before being transferred back to Iceland – to KR Reykjavik.
Barely had he signed, though, before he was off on his travels again – this time to England and, after a short trial, to Bolton Wanderers. It was his success here, mainly as a bustling and determined centre forward, that brought a move to Chelsea, where he was to stay for 6 seasons. During this spell at Stamford Bridge, Gudjohnsen made a total of 268 first team appearances, scoring 78 goals.
Although originally a centre forward, Eidur always demonstrated what pundits insisted on calling ‘a surprisingly good touch for a big man’. Technically gifted, with very quick feet and, crucially, a nimble brain, the Chelsea fans warmed to the big Icelander because of his remarkable versatility. Able to play up front, in midfield, or even on the wings, Eidur was part of the developing Chelsea team that won the league in 2005 and 2006 and the Carling Cup in 2005.
Many people were surprised when Eidur signed for Barcelona in the summer of 2006, especially when it appeared he was being seen as a direct replacement for the huge fans’ favourite, Henrik Larsen. Initially played as a striker, he certainly had problems winning over the Barça faithful and, in his first season, a return of just 5 goals in 25 league games led to questions being asked about the player’s suitability for La Liga.
One thing that Eidur Gudjohnsen has always been, though, is determined and that played a big part in his ability to turn the difficult situation around. By being used more in midfield, the player demonstrated his adaptability and consequently, in both 2006/07 and 2007/08, he became an important member of the squad. Able to play in a variety of positions, and always liable to come up with a goal, Eidur Gudjohnsen is now an established Barcelona player and one whom the fans now trust totally.
Iceland’s record goal scorer, and with over 50 international caps already, and captain of the national team, Gudjohnsen has been Icelandic Player of the year three times. It is a good bet that he will try to keep his place in the national squad until he’s able to play in the same team as his son. Now that would be a good quiz question.
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