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JBG Ready To Join Roll Of Honour

Clarets winger to add his name to club history in Iceland World Cup opener

15 June 2018

Johann Berg Gudmundsson is set to take his place in Burnley history on Saturday when Iceland begin their World Cup Finals campaign.

The Clarets’ winger looks a certain starter for his country when they meet twice former winners Argentina in their Group D opener at Russia 2018.

And providing he adds to his 67 caps at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow (KO 2pm), Gudmundsson will become the first Burnley player to appear in the tournament since the Northern Ireland pair of Billy Hamilton and Tommy Cassidy in Spain, 1982.

“It’s the biggest stage in world football, being at the World Cup, so I’m really looking forward to see how it is in Russia. It’s going to be massive, with all the fans,” said the 27-year-old, who headed for Iceland’s first appearance in the Finals on the back of an outstanding season at Turf Moor which ended with his agreement on a new three-year deal.  

“When you see back home all the people talking about the World Cup it’s going to be nice.

“We will go and enjoy it and try and win a few football matches and qualify from the group phase.

“We go a long way on team spirit. We are good footballers, but we know we’re not the best footballers in the world.

“We don’t have any players playing in the biggest teams in Europe, but we know we it’s a team sport and we have a really together group willing to work for each other and that takes us a long way.

“It’s a bit like Burnley. There are no big stars or egos. Everyone is willing to put a shift in. That’s a major factor, and if you don’t get that togetherness in the next generation what we’ve done may not happen again.”

Iceland, with a population of just 340,000, are the smallest nation ever to appear in the tournament.

But they are no longer the underdogs they might have been after reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, where they famously knocked out England at the last-16 stage.

That followed a draw against eventual champions Portugal in the group phase of the competition in France and Gudmundsson is looking forward to meeting more top-class opposition as Iceland try to negotiate a tough group which also includes, Argentina, Nigeria and Croatia.

“When the groups were announced I said I wanted Brazil or Argentina and I got one of them,” he added.

“In the first game in the Euros we played Ronaldo and this time it’s Messi. We kept Ronaldo quite quiet so hopefully will can do the same with Messi.

“People might have a bit more expectation, but we know it’s going to be tough.

“It’s similar to the Euros. We want to get out of the group stages and anything after that is a bonus.”

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