Eidur Gudjohnsen, of course, is the answer to a well-known quiz question. Who was the first player to come on as a substitute for his own father in an international football match? What might be even more surprising is that it could happen again in a few years: Eidur’s son was one of the star players in the annual televised schoolboy tournament in the summer of 2008, captaining the Barcelona team.
Born in Reykjavik in 1978, Eidur Gudjohnsen was clear that he was always going to be a footballer and made his debut in the Icelandic League when he was just 16 years old. After just 17 games for his club Valur, the player had done enough to earn a transfer to Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven. However, during his 2 seasons in the Netherlands, Eidur suffered from numerous injuries and was only able to complete 13 games before being transferred back to Iceland, to KR Reykjavik.
However, he had barely signed before he set off on his travels again, this time to England and, after a short trial, to Bolton Wanderers. It was his success here, mainly as an active and determined centre-forward, that motivated him to move to Chelsea, where he stayed for 6 seasons. During this period at Stamford Bridge, Gudjohnsen made a total of 268 first-team appearances, scoring 78 goals.
Although originally a centre-forward, Eidur always displayed what pundits insisted he called “surprisingly good touch for a great man.” Technically gifted, with very quick feet and most importantly a nimble brain, Chelsea fans raved about the great Icelander due to his remarkable versatility. Able to play up front, in midfield or even on the wings, Eidur was part of the developing Chelsea team that won the league in 2005 and 2006 and the Carling Cup in 2005.
Many people were surprised when Eidur signed for Barcelona in the summer of 2006, especially when he seemed to be seen as a direct replacement for fan favorite Henrik Larsen. Initially playing as a striker, he certainly struggled to win over the Barca fans and, in his first season, a comeback of just 5 goals in 25 league games caused the player’s suitability for LaLiga to be questioned.
However, one thing Eidur Gudjohnsen has always been about is his determination and that played a big part in his ability to turn the sticky situation around. Being used more in midfield, the player showed his adaptability and consequently, in both 2006/07 and 2007/08, he became an important member of the squad. Able to play in a variety of positions and always ready to score a goal, Eidur Gudjohnsen is now an established Barcelona player and one who is now totally trusted by the fans.
Iceland’s record goalscorer, and with more than 50 caps already, and captain of the national team, Gudjohnsen has been Icelandic Player of the Year three times. He is a good bet that he will try to keep his place in the national team until he can play in the same team as his son. That would be a good test question.