Iceland may not be appearing at the football World Cup in Brazil, but there is one Icelandic player in the tournament, and he will probably be playing for the USA tomorrow night.
Aron Jóhannsson has Icelandic parents and grew up in Iceland, but he was born in Alabama and graduated from a US school. Under international football rules he was therefore eligible to choose which of the two countries he plays for.
Aron’s case was unusual in that he was called up to the Iceland side and played for his country in ten U21 matches. He also accepted a place on the senior squad in October 2012 for games against Albania and Switzerland, but did not play due to injury.
The American coach, retired German World Cup superstar Jurgen Klinsmann, had been watching the Icelandic striker in his club career and is thought to have been instrumental in his unusual decision to change footballing nationality. That decision was green lighted by FIFA in August 2013.
Some in Iceland took the news badly, but most wished Aron well and accepted that he feels both Icelandic and American. As Iceland has yet to qualify for a world or European cup finals, it was clearly a good career decision.
The Americans actually finished third in 1930, but a long dry spell followed. The USA finished the 2002 world cup in a very respectable 8th place. However, as one quarter of the so-called Group of Death (alongside Germany, Ghana and Portugal), the US will consider itself lucky to make the final 16 this time.
A good result against Ghana tomorrow will be important for American hopes in the tournament. The game starts at 22.00, Icelandic time.