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Gunnarsdóttir's glee at Iceland status

"It's cool to hear people say: 'How can you be in this big tournament with only 300,000 people?'" Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir told UEFA.com as Iceland gear up for Sweden 2013.

Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir of Iceland
Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir of Iceland ©Sportsfile

Only five of UEFA's 54 member associations have smaller populations than Iceland, but for the second UEFA European Women's Championship in a row, the Nordic nation can count themselves among the continental elite.

Iceland lost all three matches at UEFA Women's EURO 2009 – the first senior tournament the country had qualified for – yet they will be back for more in Sweden and commence their campaign against Norway on 11 July, before playing Germany and the Netherlands.

Midfielder Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir was part of the 2009 squad at the age of 18 and now, with more than 50 caps, will be a crucial member of the Iceland side again. The FC Malmö player spoke to UEFA.com about what her team's participation means to the country.

UEFA.com: What does it mean for a small country like Iceland to play in a final tournament?

Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir: It means a lot. It's actually cool to hear people say: "How can you be in this big tournament with only 300,000 people?" And you just get proud – it means everything to us. I mean, it's our dream to do this; it's really big.

UEFA.com: Is your team spirit key to that?

Gunnarsdóttir: Yes of course, it has always been our strength to have this extreme attitude and a good team spirit – that's our thing. As long as we have that, I think we have something that other teams don't.

UEFA.com: You face a pretty tough group, given that it includes holders Germany.

Gunnarsdóttir: Of course Germany are one of the strongest teams, and it is going to be a hard one, but I think if we are really organised and defend well against them, we will have a chance.

UEFA.com: How do you rate the other teams in your group, Norway and the Netherlands?

Gunnarsdóttir: We have beaten Norway before. Of course they are a really good team as well, but – it's always been like this in our team – it doesn't matter what team it is, we always go out there and fight, and try to get good results and put everything in. We don't really think about the other team a lot. We have shown we can beat Norway before. And Holland, we haven't played a lot against them, but they have really good players. I think we have a chance, though.

UEFA.com: What are your memories of four years ago in Finland?

Gunnarsdóttir: We didn't get good results in the games, but to go into our first tournament was amazing. The squad is really excited to play this next tournament, because we want to show we can do better than at the last EURO, and show we can go a little bit further.

UEFA.com: Was it a surprise to people in Iceland that you even qualified in 2009?

Gunnarsdóttir: We were really proud of that, and the people in Iceland were really supportive. Women's soccer got a lot bigger after that. But the results were not good for us and we were not pleased. Maybe we were just so pleased to be in the tournament that we didn't get such good results. But now our goal is to come first or second in the group. So we are going to do better in this tournament.