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Iceland honours football pioneer Gudmundsson

Iceland's first professional footballer, the late Albert Gudmundsson who played in England, Scotland, France and Italy, has been commemorated with the unveiling of a statue in Reykjavik.

The Albert Gudmundsson statue stands outside the KSÍ headquarters
The Albert Gudmundsson statue stands outside the KSÍ headquarters ©KSI

The Football Association of Iceland (Knattspyrnusamband Islands or KSÍ) has unveiled a statue in honour of Albert Gudmundsson, a pioneering football talent of the 20th century who later became FA president.

The statue stands outside the KSÍ headquarters in Laugardalur, Reykjavik, as a monument to Gudmundsson's example as both player and administrator. Gudmundsson, who was born in 1923, was the Nordic country's first professional footballer. His dedication and pursuit of excellence, at a time of primitive conditions for the sport in Iceland, took him from Valur Reykjavík to Rangers FC, Arsenal FC, Racing Club de Paris, AC Milan, AS Nancy-Lorraine and OGC Nice.

After shining with local club Valur, Gudmundsson went to study in Britain where he played as an amateur for both Rangers in Glasgow and Arsenal in London. In 1947 he joined Racing Club de Paris as a professional, and later wore the colours of Milan – where he suffered a serious knee injury – Nancy and Nice before retiring to Iceland in 1954.

Gudmundsson built a second career in business and politics, serving as chairman of Reykjavik city council and later as the nation's minister of finance and minister of industry. He also continued to work in football, most notably holding the post of KSÍ president between 1968 and 1973. He remained a passionate supporter of the game's interests, and when other Icelandic players were offered professional contracts by foreign clubs Gudmundsson was always available to help negotiate acceptable deals. After leaving politics, Gudmundsson returned to France as Icelandic ambassador from 1983 to 1989. He passed away in 1994.