“The worst defeat in our history. England beaten by a country with more volcanoes than professional footballers. Well played Iceland.”

–Gary Lineker, Ex England

Player and current sports

broadcaster, 28 June 2016.

Ranked 131st in world football in April 2012, Iceland’s rise to the quarter-finals of the Euro 2016 – the first major tournament they have qualified for – has taken hold of the world’s imagination – much like the rags-to-riches story of Leicester City. An island nation whose population is a mere 332,000 (London alone has a population of over 9 million) managed to decisively beat one of the famous old footballing nations of the world. For Iceland fans this is a historic moment like none other, and the passionate celebrations of the team and the fans go a long way to prove that.

What makes the victory more remarkable is that compared to the well established and cash-stuffed domestic league in England, Iceland’s domestic football is a more semi-pro affair. The recent building of 6 indoor football arenas has allowed the league to evolve from a summer-only event, compared to England’s coach’s $3.4 million salary; Iceland’s coach is a part-time dentist.

It is easy to see why England is the butt of so many jokes, it’s elimination from the Euro 2016 at the hands of Iceland comes in the same week as their exit from the European Union.