Swansea midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson has hit the headlines after scoring nine goals in 14 appearances in 2016 in the Premier League – only Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero have netted more in this calendar year so far.
The Iceland international has lifted a relegation-threatened Swansea into a comfortable mid-table team, showing his threat from long range, in the penalty area and from set pieces.
The 26-year-old’s late form has put him in touching distance of the Welsh side’s all-time Premier League goalscoring record, which former Swans striker Wilfred Bony currently holds.
Sigurdsson’s impressive performances have come at a good time with EURO 2016 just around the corner as Iceland embark on their first major tournament in France this summer.
Where did it all start for Sigurdsson?
Sigurdsson was born in Reykjavik in Iceland and played for his hometown side FH, before joining Breioablik where he became an Iceland under-17 player. The midfielder soon moved to England and joined Reading’s academy, spending his youth career at the Royals, and then three years at their academy. Prior to the 2007-08 season, he was given a professional contract along with five other players. He made his debut in a League Cup match against Luton Town.
What happened next?
At the age of 18, he competed at international level at the under-18 European Championships, scoring twice in qualification and twice in the elite round. The Under-18 Championships gave Sigurdsson a platform to bigger and better things and just four days later, he joined the under-21 squad and performed well showing at such a young age that he can compete at a high level.
At club level he began to make his mark at Reading but was loaned out to Shrewsbury and Crewe to gain valuable experience and to develop as a player. After a short loan spell in the lower leagues, he returned to Berkshire and made a major impact to Reading’s attacking line up, scoring some eye-catching goals for the Royals. This impressive form grabbed attention from abroad, with Bundesliga side, 1899 Hoffenheim, looking to sign the Icelandic midfielder. He later joined the German outfit in a club-record sale for Reading.
The move abroad looked inspired as he proved to be a fans’ favourite, winning the fans’ Player of the Season award. But during the 2011-12 season, he began to fall down the pecking order and this resulted in a chance to move to the Premier League, by joining Welsh side Swansea City on loan.
He prevailed in south Wales – winning the Premier League Player of the Month in March 2012 – and would later join the Welsh club on a permanent basis in 2014.
Was joining Tottenham Hotspur a mistake?
Before making the permanent move to Swansea, Sigurdsson joined Premier league side Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of around £8.8 million in 2012, where he would join up with newly-appointed manager Andre Villas-Boas, who had been announced as the new Spurs manager that summer.
The move to London looked to be the natural progression in a career looking to get back on track. Sigurdsson played alongside the immensely talented Gareth Bale, and playing with such a world class allowed the midfielder to showcase his attacking skills.
Playing for such a big club, competition was high for places, and the Icelandic star’s attacking style and work ethic proved popular with the manager. He played 33 games in the Premier League for the club in his first season.
The momentum continued with Sigurdsson into the 2013-14 season, scoring five goals in 25 appearances, but his position looked under threat as Villas-Boas was sacked and Tim Sherwood came in. Sherwood’s managerial plan meant Sigurdsson was not in the picture.
Sigurdsson looked to move away from Spurs and it was announced that he would join former club Swansea City on a permanent deal and put a struggling second half of the 2013-14 campaign behind him.
Why is this summer so exciting for Sigurdsson?
Sigurdsson has played 36 times for his country, scoring 12 times, and at such a young age and with Iceland heading into their first ever European Championships, the midfielder will be one of the first names on the team-sheet to start the opening group game against Portugal.
The European Championships will allow the 26-year-old, who should be approaching his prime, to showcase his talent on the biggest stage. This will be the first time he will be able to play at a major tournament and the opportunity to compete against the best players in Europe will be a test for a player returning to form, and he will be hoping that he can create a name for himself around Europe.