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FC Barcelona Players – Eider Gudjohnsen
Eidur Gudjohnsen is, of course, 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 could be even more amazing is that it could happen again in a few years – Eidur’s son was one of the stars of the annual schoolboy tournament on television 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 just 16 years old. 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 the Netherlands, however, Eidur suffered numerous injuries and was only able to complete 13 games before being transferred back to Iceland – to KR Reykjavik.
He had barely signed, though, before he was away on his travels again – this time to England and, after a short trial, to Bolton Wanderers. It was his success here, mainly as a busy and determined centre-forward, that brought him a move to Chelsea, where he was to stay for 6 seasons. During this time at Stamford Bridge, Gudjohnsen made a total of 268 first team appearances, scoring 78 goals.
Although he was originally a centre-forward, Eidur always showed what pundits insisted on calling ‘a surprisingly good touch for a big man’. Technically gifted, with very quick feet and, crucially, an agile brain, Chelsea fans warmed to the big Icelander because of his extraordinary versatility. Able to play up front, in midfield, or even on the wings, Eidur was part of the Chelsea development 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 that he was being considered directly to replace 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 about the player’s suitability for La Liga.
There is one thing that Eidur Gudjohnsen has always been, however, determined and that played a big part in his ability to transform the difficult situation. By being used more in midfield, the player showed his ability to adapt and as a result, in 2006/07 and 2007/08, he became an important member of the squad. Able to play in a variety of positions, and always likely to find a goal, Eidur Gudjohnsen is now an established player at Barcelona and one that the fans now fully trust.
Iceland’s record goalscorer, with over 50 international caps already, and national team captain, Gudjohnsen has been Iceland’s 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 can play in the same team as his son. Now that would be a good quiz question.
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