Hallgrimsson understands love for Iceland

Heimir Hallgrimsson says Iceland are a "pretty little nation with pretty little people" and "haven't been to war with anyone".

Iceland boss Heimir Hallgrimsson at Spartak Stadium   -  Getty Images

Iceland won the hearts of football fans around the world with its run to the European Championship quarter-finals two years ago – and coach Heimir Hallgrimsson understands why.

Hallgrimsson was joint coach alongside Lars Lagerback for the Euros but now stands alone as boss of an Iceland side that will take on Argentina and Lionel Messi in its World Cup opener on Saturday.

The 51-year-old, who combines his role with the Iceland Football Association with that of a dentist, said: "You can't help but love Iceland, we haven't attacked anyone, been to war with anyone!

"We only had the cod wars [over fishing rights in the north Atlantic] and no one got hurt there. It's a pretty little nation, and pretty people in general."

Hallgrimsson has previously visited the pub to meet Iceland fans before matches but says the 1600 kick-off time in Moscow will prevent a repeat.

"It's too early, I won't go to the pub before the game tomorrow," he said, before adding of his nation's supporters: "We know each other closer than other coaches know their fans, this closeness and trust between the staff and the fans means it's possible to go to the pub before the game and meet up.

"I understand why this couldn't happen for other nations but it shows the unity between the fans and the team and the respect we get from them. It's just more than a football game they go to watch, we give them ownership of the team and vice-versa.

"You can see it in their eyes, it means more to them than a general guy who comes to watch. The game's too early, I won't go to the pub before the game tomorrow!!"

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