Alfred Finnbogason is emerging as one of Iceland's hottest properties and having scored 15 Eredivisie goals for struggling sc Heerenveen this term, the striker is riding on the crest of a wave, telling UEFA.com: "Scoring is so much fun and that will never change."
Finnbogason's hunger derives from a humble upbringing in the fishing town of Grindavík laced with an uncompromising footballing education at Edinburgh-based amateur club Hutchison Vale FC after moving to Scotland in 1999. "The football was different but it was a very positive experience," he said. "I played with the older boys and the competition was tough. If you failed to perform, you would be on the bench the following week."
A brief interlude with Fjölnir followed by a six-month sabbatical in Italy persuaded Icelandic side Breidablik to acquire his services in 2005. The decision bore fruit three years later as Finnbogason was voted young player of the season, with his side winning a maiden domestic cup in 2010 and a UEFA Europa League berth.
International recognition duly followed, and it came as little surprise when Finnbogason flourished en route to the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship. "Being selected for the U21s was a great feeling," he recalled. "Then playing in the 2011 finals and experiencing a final tournament only intensified my ambitions to play abroad."
The 24-year-old had made his senior bow 12 months earlier, coming off the bench in a friendly against the Faroe Islands, while Israel succumbed to his first international strike in Tel Aviv in November 2010.
A yearning to succeed outside the home comforts of Iceland was satisfied when he joined KSC Lokeren OV, but he scored just four goals in 22 games for the Belgian side, reigniting his goalscoring flame during a loan spell at Helsingborgs IF, before earning a three-year deal at Heerenveen. His impact was almost immediate, as he scored both goals in a 2-2 draw with AFC Ajax in only his second game, before finding the net in a club-record six straight league matches more recently.
"I have never been in better shape both physically and mentally and my confidence is sky-high," said Finnbogason. "It's a great club to play for and I'm given freedom to express myself. Scoring goals has always come naturally to me. I don't think about it too much when I'm in the box, but it's where I feel happiest. You can train as hard as you like but it's mostly about having confidence in your ability. The key is to enjoy every minute of it and to play with your heart."
Finnbogason is expected to feature for Iceland when they tackle Russia in a friendly in Marbella on Wednesday evening. The match provides a break from 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying with Lars Lagerbäck's team currently fourth in Group E.
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