As the Faroese Premier Division enters the home straight of its 2013 season, UEFA.com picks out seven reasons to love football in one of Europe's smallest countries. HB Tórshavn are edging towards their first championship since 2010 but the Faroese top flight has much more to offer with goals aplenty, four different champions in ten years and a prime minister capped at international level.
Keeping it in the family
Not many national teams include a player who is the third generation of a family that has been capped by their country. However, that is the case for 23-year-old defender Odmar Færø, who made his international debut against Iceland on 15 August 2012. His father, who goes by the same name, represented the Faroes in the 1980s and 1990s, while in the 1960s it was his grandfather, also Odmar Færø, who wore the national shirt.
Although the Faroese Premier Division might not produce the same standard of football as the major European leagues, there is still just as much excitement with five different sides lifting the title in the past ten seasons. Indeed, the trophy has changed hands at the end of each of the last three campaigns with HB, B36 Tórshavn and EB/Streymur emerging victorious.
Goals, goals, goals
Everybody loves watching goals fly in and it is no different in the Faroe Islands. With an average of over three goals per games in the top tier there is considerable entertainment.
Wembley Stadium, Camp Nou and the Fußball Arena München can be regarded among the most beautiful stadiums in European football but few teams will be able to take in the breathtaking scenery of the Faroe Islands. Most top-flight matches take place amid a backdrop of mesmerising mountains, fjords and the Atlantic Ocean.
Former national coach Brian Kerr once said he had never seen a player perform as bravely or give as much as Fródi Benjaminsen did in a fixture against France. The next day Kerr was on his way to the airport when he received a phone call from the president of the Faroe Islands Football Association (FSF) who told him that when he arrived at his office at 8am that morning, he bumped into Benjaminsen.
A carpenter by trade, the defender was taking down the advertising hoardings around the stadium. Kerr later said: "I just couldn't believe it, but it was really true, and that says a bit about the unbelievable attitude of many of the Faroese players."
When one sport is not enough
In a country with an estimated population of 49,000 the same people often enjoy success in different fields. Some footballers have become renowned musicians, while current Prime Minister Kaj Leo Johannesen was capped four times at international level during a short goalkeeping career. Another custodian, Jens Martin Knudsen – the 'Bobble hat goalkeeper' who featured in the famous victory against Austria in 1990 – also played for the national handball team and won several Faroese championships in gymnastics.
Stadiums are not locked up after games or training sessions, a big hit with fans who have the freedom to play on the pitches. This liberty is something that is particularly enjoyed by Marcin Michalski, a Polish admirer of Faroese football. "You can just take your ball and play whenever you want," he said. "Score a penalty at the famous Tofta Leikvøllur or shoot from distance at Gundadalur Stadium – I've tried it a hundred times!" The relaxed atmosphere is also evident at every top-flight match, where children can play on the pitch at half-time as substitutes do their best to warm up around them.
Even the very best players remain grounded. If they have scored the winning goal at the weekend, they then have to go back to their normal job on a Monday morning – a player's boss might be the supporter that had cheered him on the day before. "There's almost no stardom in the Faroe Islands," said Frenchman Clément Blaizot, a follower of Faroese football. "At any time [internationals] Símun Samuelsen or Hallur Hansson can walk down the streets of Torshavn without a bodyguard and you can talk to them."
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