Former Sky Blue defensive midfielder (and CCFPA member) Aron Gunnarsson captained his country Iceland to an historic victory over the overwhelming favourites England in Euro 2016 last night. Iceland with a population less than Coventry shocked a disjointed and underpowered English side with a 2-1 win after a Wayne Rooney penalty gave England an early lead in the final game of the last 16 knockout stage of the competition in Nice.
Gunnar, now with Cardiff City, played a true captain’s game in the humbling of England with the whole Icelandic team producing a high energy, quick breaking direct game with tenacious tackling and harrying which contrasted with a tentative, stumbling, apparently tactically inept performance from Roy Hodgson’s men. Sky Blue fans will remember Aron developing his effective long throw with CCFC which he used to good effect against the English defence who seemed unprepared in counteracting it and which led to Iceland’s quick equaliser inside the first ten minutes.
The result leaves Wales, managed by former Sky Blue gaffer Chris Coleman as the last surviving representative from the home countries in the last eight – Congratulations! Both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland made the last sixteen; however both join England in leaving after the knockout stage. N.Reland, managed by former Sky Blue player Michael O’Neill (and with former Sky Blue loanee Ollie Norwood prominent) went out of the competition first and were followed by the ROI (with CCFPA member and popular former Sky Blue defender Richard Keogh and attacking star Robbie Keane prominent).
Aron’s men deserved their victory and now go on to meet the host nation in the last eight while England return home (now managerless) to face the music. Who would have predicted ‘England Out of Europe’ twice in the space of a week? Good luck to Aron and his colleagues in the rest of the tournament!