Iceland fans react after England defeat

It was the biggest game in Icelandic football history, and now they have become the smallest nation to reach the quarter finals of the European Championships.

Having beaten the Netherlands to get a place in France, the team began Euro 2016 with an extraordinary draw against Goliath Portugal, prompting a sulky response of captain Cristiano Ronaldo who dismissed it as a “lucky night.”

Iceland then drew against Hungary, defeated Austria, and on Monday they pulled off one of the biggest shocks when they stunned England with a 2-1 victory.

So how does a nation with a population of just over 330,000 people, where it is too cold and too dark for eight months of the year to play football, and where the national team’s manager is a part-time dentist, come to play football so well? And what do they make of their fairytale story so far?

Ari Freyr Skulason, Iceland international football player

“What the **** just happened?!?!? Yeah we won ENGLAND!!”

Arni Sveinsson, film director and football fan, in downtown Reykyavik

“We have a very organised team, and England does not. That prevailed tonight. In my view, there’s nothing sweeter than watching England lose. We have a song “if you don’t jump you’re English” – that’s what we sang tonight.”

“If you compare the two teams, England have all the stars. But let’s not forget that all of your players play in English leagues. None of them play outside England. Spanish leagues, German leagues have been surpassing them. We have a finite team of certain players that always begin the game. And it’s always secure.”

“It’s a classic story of the underdog. The smallest country in the tournament fights back. I’m 40 and I played football when I was small. But never in my life did I ever think that Iceland would ever do so well in a major championship. It is quite a phenomenon.”

Jóhann Sigurðarson, football supporter

“Icelandic dentist kills three lions.”

John Rogers, English journalist at Reykjavik Grapevine who supports Iceland

“The streets are full of people here. It feels like a national holiday. Fireworks going off everywhere. There’s an outpouring of excitement and joy. It’s just a different feeling to an English celebration – there’s just kindness and joy, it’s beautiful!

“Iceland has been exporting footballers for a while – they’re producing the footballers the world is looking at. It’s the product of decades of development. It’s a golden generation of footballers, but it’s not an overnight story – it took decades.”

Icelandic Football website

“Is this real life??? Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

Elfa Olafsdottir

Many Iceland fans were laconic, describing England’s defeat as “Brexit-2”, in a reference to last week’s referendum when the UK voted to leave the European Union.

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