Bjarni Gudjónsson, captain of 2013 Icelandic Premier League winners KR Reykjavík, has called time on his playing career and will take over as coach of Icelandic Cup winners Fram Reykjavík.
"I am very excited to get this first opportunity as a coach and will work hard to repay the trust Fram have placed in me," said Gudjónsson after signing a three-year deal with his new club. "I got a phone call late on Sunday [6 October] asking if I was interested, then had a good meeting with Fram last Monday. We saw our ideas were on the same page and signed up."
Dogged by injuries in recent campaigns, the 34-year-old midfielder has had coaching in mind for some time. The fact he ended last season on a high with KR, however, convinced him to make a career change despite having a year left on his playing contract.
"I had been contacted by some clubs before, but turned them down," Gudjónsson explained. "But after celebrating the championship with KR, I reviewed everything and thought about all my injuries. It seems wise to quit playing and it's maybe something I should have done earlier. After talking to Fram there was no turning back. It was a difficult decision to retire, but made easier by getting this big break."
Gudjónsson added: "This is great opportunity for me as a young coach. The conditions and squad are good – hopefully they'll be even better next year. We could do something good. I would not take the job without faith in myself, the club and the players. It is very exciting – Fram are cup winners and will play in the UEFA Europa League."
The 23-times Icelandic international began his playing days with home-town cub ÍA Akranes. He enjoyed a varied career that took him to the likes of Newcastle United FC in England, KRC Genk in Belgium and Germany's VfL Bochum 1848 before returning to his homeland in 2006.
He eventually joined KR in 2008 and proceeded to make 108 top-flight appearances, winning a domestic double in 2011 and captaining them to league glory last term. KR coach Rúnar Kristinsson said: "This is a great loss for us – Gudjónsson has been very important, a great leader on and off the pitch."
By contrast, Fram chairman Sverrir Einarsson was delighted with his new recruit. "I see a great leader with a lot of knowledge, and when he discussed his ideas we were on the same wavelength."
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