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Johann Ready For World Cup Dream

Clarets winger eyes another run at Russia 2018

31 May 2018

Johann Berg Gudmundsson is ready to live the dream by going to the World Cup Finals.

And the Clarets’ Iceland star hopes to help pull off another shock by going through to the knock-out rounds in Russia.

Gudmundsson is a key player in the Iceland team that has reached the final stages of the tournament for the first time – becoming the smallest nation by population ever to qualify for a World Cup.

Their latest bit of history follows the country’s remarkable run to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 when they knocked out England along the way.

The squad, coached by qualified dentist Heimir Hallgrimsson, topped their qualifying section to make it to Russia before being handed a tough draw in Group D of the Finals alongside Argentia, Nigeria and Croatia.

But Gudmundsson hopes his unexpected journey still has a long way to go.

“When I was younger I never thought I would play in the World Cup with Iceland,” said the Burnley winger, 27, who moved to Turf Moor following the finals of Euro 2016 in France.

“I just never thought it was going to be a reality. It’s fantastic and for a small nation like Iceland to qualify is a massive achievement.

“We don’t have players who play for the biggest clubs in Europe, so we are always going to be underdogs.

“But I think people will be looking for us and seeing how we do and opposition will give us more respect than they did in the past.

“People are probably going to have a bit more expectation, but we know what we can do and we know it’s going to be tough.

“Similar to the Euros, we want to get out of the group stage and after that is a bonus.”

Gudmundsson, whose outstanding season for the Clarets was rewarded with a new three-year deal earlier this month, is one of seven British-based players in Iceland’s squad, along with Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City), Kari Arnason (Aberdeen), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa) and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Reading).

Gudmundsson, an ever-present at Euro 2016, looks certain to add to his 66 caps, with warm-up games to come against Norway and Ghana before the squad flies to out to Russia ahead of their group opener against Argentina on Saturday, 16 June.

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