If there is a first family of Icelandic football, Jóhannes Karl Gudjónsson may just be a member.
Gudjónsson – known by his nickname Joey – returned home to ÍA Akranes this spring after 14 years abroad, taking in clubs in Belgum, the Netherlands, Spain and England, where he has played for all but one of the last nine seasons. He was given the captaincy and the promoted club started the season with a six-match unbeaten run, though they have subsequently lost their last four.
"It was easier since I did not have to learn the language and it is great to play here," the Icelandic international midfielder said. "I have been following Icelandic football, both the excitement when it begins in the spring and also when I was home at Akranes in the summer, so I knew a little bit about what to expect but still I was surprised to see it was better than I expected. The youngsters are better coached and better football players as well as the facilities being better."
Not only that but his elder brother Bjarni Gudjónsson, another player with Belgian and English experience, captains KR Reykjavík, and the two shook hands before their respective teams met in May. "It was fun for both of us but especially for me since we won the game," Joey said. "It was a special feeling since we were both captains in a big match, like ÍA against KR games always are, but as soon as the game began he was just a player in the other team. We did not have any conflict but in the cup game a month later he tackled me and I tackled him back – just like when we were kids playing in our backyard."
Gudjónsson, like his younger sibling, began at ÍA and returned there initially after leaving England. The oldest of the brothers Thórdur, also started his career at the club and is now general manager there while their father Gudjón Thórdarson played and coached at the Akranes outfit but is now in charge of Grindavík. "That was also strange, being on the pitch and hearing him cheering his team 'Go Yellows' which is also ÍA's colour," Joey said. "It was also strange to meet him before and after the game but it was great to be connected to other teams."
Then what about family dinners? "The discussions are always calm and professional," said Joey. "Of course we have had different opinions over the years so we enjoy talking about football."
So who does their mother back? "She supports ÍA, being born and raised in Akranes, but also goes to support Bjarni when he is playing for KR," Joey said. However, that is not all as another of her sons, Gudjónsson's half-brother Björn Bergmann Sigurdarson, is set to be the latest of the family to play in England having agreed to join one of Joey's many former clubs, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, from Lillestrøm SK.
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