The land of trolls, Björk, vikings, geysers and volcanoes. Yes, I was in Iceland. I picked it as my holiday destination this year, and I came back home just a couple of days ago. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to explore this very talked about yet mysterious country.

I spent a total of eight days travelling around the island, four of which I stayed in the capital, Reykjavik. I was totally mind blown, and not only because of the scenic beauty. We usually associate Iceland with its more natural features and peculiar landscape, but among its many other faces there is one we can’t ignore: its importance in terms of sports. Iceland has a population of only 360.000 people, but it’s a huge sports nation. As such, however, Iceland appeared on our radar fairly recently with their performance in the UEFA Euro 2016. The viking team beat England 2:1, and the broadcasting of the match was the highest TV rating ever noticed for one single country: of all the televisions that were on in Iceland during the event, only 0.2 percent were watching something else.

As you know by now, sports are pretty important for Icelanders -football, handball, basketball are the favorites-, and star athletes are often seen as national heroes. On my way to the north of the island I visited Akureyri, the country’s second largest city. According to Wikipedia and the proud locals, the “greatest sons of the city“ are athletes such as the famous football player Birkir Bjarnason and six handball players; Alfred Gislasson among them, who’s the current coach for the German handball national team.

Since most local players go abroad (license fees for sports leagues in Iceland are very low due to the small population), we often see many Icelandic names in teams like FC Barcelona, Liverpool, Bologna and FC Zürich. At the moment it’s clear to everyone that Icelandic football is having its moment of glory, and i