Saturday, December 13, 2014

Iceland/Finland Greatest all-Time Team

Iceland vs Finland

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

This is the all-time team for Scandinavia, excluding NorwaySweden and Denmark. The number 23 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the World Cup Finals.

While Norway, Sweden and Denmark have done great internationally, Finland is known for its near miss.  In 1997, Finland needed to win against Hungary at home to earn a playoff spot at the World Cup qualifiers. They scored an own goal during an injury time.

Iceland is one of the smallest countries in UEFA, but they managed to earn a spot at the 2014 UEFA World Cup Qualifying playoff.  In 2016, Iceland qualified for the Finals at the Euro 2016.  They made a strong run, beating England in the second round before losing to the host France in the quarter-final. They went onward to qualify and play in the World Cup Finals in Russia.

Iceland's celebration at Euro 2016

Team
GK: Jussi Jaaskelainen (Finland)
Jussi Jaaskelainen made his Veikkausliiga debut for MP Mikkeli in 1992, becoming the club's first choice goalkeeper in 1994. In 1996, he moved to VPS Vaasa where he spent two seasons. He holds the record for being the longest serving foreign player in the Premier League after playing for Bolton Wanderers from 1997 until 2012.  He also played for West Ham and Wigan. He was capped 56 times for Finland.

GK: Antti Niemi (Finland)
Antti Niemi spent much of his playing career in the Scottish Premier League (with Rangers and Heart of Midlothian) and the Premier League (with Southampton and Fulham), and in 2008 announced his retirement due to injury. However, in 2009 he returned to sign for Premier League club Portsmouth. Earned 67 caps.

GK: Hannes Þór Halldórsson (Iceland)
Hannes Þór Halldórsson played club football in Iceland for Leiknir, Afturelding, Stjarnan, Fram and KR.  He joined Norwegian club SK Brann and Sandnes Ulf, Dutch Eredivisie club NEC  and Danish club Randers FC.  He is the starting keeper for Iceland during its great run at Euro 2016.  In the 2018 World Cup Finals, he saved a penalty by Lionel Messi.

RB/CM: Aron Gunnarsson (Iceland)
Aron Gunnarsson began his career at Þór Akureyri, and played one match for Dutch club AZ before joining Coventry City in 2008. After 133 matches and 7 goals in three seasons for them, he transferred to Cardiff City, where he was a runner-up in the 2012 Football League Cup Final and played in the 2013–14 Premier League. He has earned over 70 caps for Iceland. He was Iceland's captain at their first major tournament, Euro 2016 and Russia 2018.

RB/LB: Birkir Sævarsson (Iceland)
Birkir Sævarsson started his career with local side Valur before joining Brann and Hammarby in Norway.  At Euro 2016, Birkir played all minutes for Iceland during the tournament, where his side ultimately got knocked out in the quarter final following a 2–5 loss against France.  He also went to the WC Finals in 2018.

CB:  Ragnar Sigurosson (Iceland)
Ragnar Sigurosson is best known for his "Man of the Match" award during Iceland's upset of England at the Euro 2016. He scored a goal while being rock solid at the back.  He played club football in Sweden, Denmark and Russia before European Championship in 2016.  He earned a move to Fulham after the tournament, but moved back to play for Rubin Kazan and Rostov. He played 80 times for Iceland between 2007 and 2018.
Sigursson vs England
CB: Niklas Moisander (Finland)  
Niklas Moisander played for the local TPS youth team before moving to Ajax's junior organisation. He moved to FC Zwolle in 2006 without ever playing for Ajax.  He played for AZ before moving back to Ajax in 2012.  Then, he moved to Sampdoria and Werder Bremen.  From 2008 to 2017, he earned 61 caps. He was the captain of the national team of Finland.

CB: Sami Hyypia (Finland)
Sami Hypia was probably one of the most successful Finish players playing outside his home country. He began his playing career with Kumu and MyPa.  He was best remembered for his 10 seasons with Liverpool.  He was at one point their captain.  He was voted 38th as the greatest ever players for Liverpool by their fans.  He was voted 19th as the greatest Foreign Player ever in the Premier League. He also had a successful career with Williem II in Holland.  
Sami Hyypia 
CB/LB: Arto Tolsa (Finland)
Arto Tolsa started his football career with the Finnish first division Kotkan Työväen Palloilijat. In 1968, he moved to the Belgian club Beerschot VAC. He would play 192 games and score 14 times. He also twice won the Belgian Cup with Beerschot in 1971 and 1979, scoring the winning goal in 1971. He returned to the Finnish side Kotkan Työväen Palloilijat in 1979. He had 77 caps.

CM: Stig-Göran Myntti (Finland)
Myntti played for the West Finnish club Vasa IFK with whom he won the national championship in 1944, 1946 and 1953. For the Finnish national team, he earned 61 caps from 1945 to 1958. He was a part of the Finnish Olympic team in 1952 at the Olympic Games held in Finland.  He also represented Finland in Bandy, where he finished as a runner-up at the Bandy World Cup. 

CM: Asgeir Sigurvinsson (Iceland) 
Asgeir Sigurvinsson is conisdered to be Iceland's greatest players.  He spent his foreign career with Standard Liege, Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart.  He spent 8 seasons with Standard Liege before spending an unsuccessful season with Bayern Munich. He won the Bundelsliga in 1983-1984 with Stuttgart after joining them in 1982. He had 46 caps.

RW/LW: Joonas Kolkka (Finland)
Kolkka started his career with Reipas Lahti and MyPa in Finland before joining Netherlands' Willem II in 1995. In 1998,  Kolkka joined PSV Eindhoven where he won two league championships and got to play in the UEFA Champions League. Then he played for Panathinaikos, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Crystal Palace.  He returned to the Netherlands in 2005, playing for ADO Den Haag, Feyenoord and NAC Breda. He had 98 caps.
Joonas Kolkka 
RW/DM/CM/RB: Teemu Tainio (Finland)
Teemu Tainio began his career with his local club, TP-47, before moving to FC Haka in 1996. He played for Auxerre in France for eight seasons. Then, he spent 2 seasons with Tottenham Hotspur. He also played for Sunderland, Birmingham, HJK Helsinki,  Ajax and New York Red Bulls. He had 64 caps or Finland from 1998 to 2014.

RW: Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Iceland)
Born in Iceland, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson moved to London with his parents when he was young.  He played for the youth squad with Fulham and Chelsea.  However, his professional career started with Breiðablik back home.  He later played AZ, Charltoin Athletic and Burnley.  With Iceland, he was a key player during the Euro 2016. He also went to Russia 2018.

AM: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Iceland)
Gylfi began his professional career with Reading in the Championship, and in 2010 was sold to Hoffenheim which was Reading's biggest sale. He was voted Player of the Season for two consecutive seasons – for Reading in 2009–10 and for Hoffenheim in 2010–11. After a season loan back in English football with Swansea City he joined Tottenham Hotspur for £8.8 million, and in 2014 moved back to Swansea.  At the time of writing, he played for Everton. He is probably Iceland's best player at the moment.
Gylfi Sigurdsson 
FW: Albert Guðmundsson (Iceland)
Albert played with local club Valur. In 1944. he joined Rangers while studying in Scotland at Skerry's College, Glasgow. In the same year, he joined Arsenal in England.  He was only Arsenal's second foreign player.  Later in his career, he played  FC Nancy, A.C. Milan, RC Paris and Nice.  He also played for the national team of Iceland.  His grandson represenerd Iceland at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

AM: Jari Litmanen (Finland)
Jari Litmanen is probably Finland's greatest player.  In Finland,  he played for Reipas, HJK, MyPa and Lahti before heading to Ajax in 1992.  He became the first Finnish footballing superstar while playing for Ajax in the mid-1990s. He was a key player for club that won the Champions League in 1995, the peak year of his career. The team was regarded one of the greatest club sides in recent history. He also played for Barcelona and Liverpool.  He earned 137 caps for Finland.
Jari Litmanen 
FW: Juhani Peltonen (Finland)
Peltonen was the first Finnish player to play in the German Bundesliga. He made 38 appearances for Hamburger SV between 1964 and 1966, scoring six goals. In Finland Peltonen always represented Valkeakosken Haka, winning two Finnish championships and five Finnish Cups with the club. For the national team he made 68 appearances, scoring 11 goals. He was chosen Finnish Player of the Year three times.


ST: Kolbeinn Sigborsson (Iceland)
Kolbeinn Sigborsson started his career in Iceland before making a name in Holland.  After a successful run with AZ, he joined Ajax in 2011 and later, moved to Nantes in France.  For the national team, his scoring rate at the time of writing 1 goal for every 2 games.  He was a hero at Euro 2016, where he scored the winner against England.

ST: Aulis Rytkönen (Finland)
Rytkönen started his career in Finland with KuPS Kuopio in 1945. He became Finland's first professional player when he signed for France's Toulouse FC in 1952. He spent eight seasons (1952–1960) there, winning the French Cup in 1957.  After returning from France, he worked as player-coach of HJK Helsinki 1960–1966. He earned 37 caps for the Finland, scoring 7 goals. He played for Finland at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. 

ST: Alfreð Finnbogason (Iceland)
He made his senior debut for Breiðablik in 2008. Later, he played for Lokeren and Helsingborgs IF.  With Heerenveen, he was the Dutch Eredivisie's top scorer in the 2013–14 season with 29 goals, a tally topped only by Luis Suárez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jonathan Soriano in Europe's top leagues that season.  Then, he moved to Real Sociedad. At the time of writing, he is with FC Augsburg.  He is a member of both Iceland's Euro 2016 and Russia 2018 team.

ST: Arnór Guðjohnsen (Iceland)
Arnór Guðjohnsen was one of the few professional players from Iceland during his era.  He played with Anderlecht for 6 seasons and Bordeaux for another two seasons.  He also played in Sweden. He is also Eidur's father.  Arnór and Eiður are the only father and son to play for a national football team during the same game. Arnór was 34 and Eiður was just 17 when it happened. Eiður came on as a second-half substitute for his father, so they never actually played together. He 
Arnór Guðjohnsen 
ST: Eidur Gudjohnsen (Iceland)
Eidur Gudjohnsen is probably the best known footballer from Iceland.  He made his national debut as a 17 years old when he came in as a substitute for his father against Estonia in 1996.  The pair is the only father and son to have played in the same international match.  He was probably known for his career with Chelsea and Barcelona. He won a Champions League title with Barcelona. He played 88 times for Iceland.  He played for Iceland at Euro 2016 as a veteran player.
Eidur Gudjohnsen 

Honorable Mention
Juhani Peltonen (Finland), Hannu Tihinen (Finland), Mixu Paatelainen (Finland), Mikael Forssell (Finland), Tommy Lindholm (Finland), Aatos Lehtonen (Finland), Ari Hjelm (Finland), Roman Eremenko (Finland), Alexei Eremenko (Finland), Jonatan Johansson (Finland), Lukáš Hrádecký (Finland), Max Viinioksa (Finland).

Squad Explanation
-- Olli Huttunen was considered one of Finland's greatest keepers, but I opted for keepers with experience playing club football outside of Finland. He spent his entire career in Haka. Both Antti Niemi and Jussi Jääskeläinen had long careers in the English Premiership.  Lukáš Hrádecký also deserved an honourable mention.
-- Max Viinioksa (Finland) was the last player dropped.  I dropped him after discovering a player named Albert Guðmundsson.  Albert Guðmundsson's grandson also named Albert was a member of the World Cup team in 2018.  Albert Senior was the first ever professional player for Iceland.
-- Niklas Moisander's club career in Holland was amazing.  
-- Teemu Tainio seldom got mentioned on all-time teams for Finland, but he had managed to play in the Premiership and Ligue 1.  He had achieved a club career not many players from Finland and Iceland could enjoy. I do believe that one of the few Finnish players who earned international recognition outside of Finland.
-- Aulis Rytkönen, Juhani Peltonen and Arto Tolsa are one of the first professional footballers from Finland.
-- Hannes Þór Halldórsson, Aron Gunnarsson, Birkir Sævarsson, Ragnar Sigurosson, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Kolbeinn Sigborsson, Alfreð Finnbogason and Alfreð Finnbogason were added to the team because of Euro 2016. Those players have achieved things that were done by other players from previous generations. Eidur Gudjohnsen also went to the tournament.
-- Jonatan Johansson's status is hurt by the fact that the other forwards have better exposure.  I never heard of him until I started to do my research for this blog.
-- Arnór  and Eiður Gudjohnsen needs no introduction.  Jari Litmanen and Sami Hyypia were two of the greatest Finnish players.


Starting lineup
Formation: 4-3-3
The starting lineup features 6 Icelanders and 5 Finlanders.




1 comment:

  1. Hi Chan, here Norway in there 90`s 4-5-1 formation
    Thorstvedt
    Berg - Svenssen - Bratseth - Riise
    Juve (c)
    Lund Kvammen
    Jensen Brustad
    Flo T.A.

    Subs; Johansen, Grodas, Johnsen R, Halvorsen, Bjornebye, Solskjaer, Bredesen, Rekdal, Hennum, Gundersen, Iversen

    ReplyDelete