3 Jul 2016

Scandinavian soccer skewers the English

From Mediawatch, 9:10 am on 3 July 2016

An emotional Icelandic commentator at Euro 2016 became an online star this week. But it wasn't the first time a Nordic nation's broadcaster hit the headlines for losing it after an embarrassing defeat for England.

The Iceland team’s heroics at the European football championships have swung a spotlight onto this squad of formerly little-known players, some of whom aren’t even full-time professionals.

But it was former Iceland international Gudmundur Benediktsson who got the most limelight for his hysterical commentary box performance on TV. 

First when Iceland beat Austria last week:

He then took it up a notch when Iceland eliminated England with an epic effort last Tuesday.

Gudmundur Benediktsson isn't the first Scandinavian soccer man to lose it after overcoming the English.

Back in 1981, when Norway were footballing minnows, commentator Bjørge Lilleliens called out major figures from English history past and present to tell them their boys "got one hell of a beating".

Losing it on air - and losing his job

Elimination by Iceland (population: 330,000) was a humiliation for England (population: 53 million), and the country's second exit from Europe in one week, after the UK's Brexit vote.

While England's millionaire footballers all have the consolation of huge Premier League paypackets, Gudmundur Benediktsson has been hit in the pocket.

Between Iceland’s two stunning wins, he was fired from his day job as a coach back home this past week.

It's a tough business. One day everybody loves you for losing it on the air -  the next day, you lose your job.

That 1981 Bjørge Lilleliens rant in full:

"We are the best in the world. We are the best in the world. We have beaten England 2-1 in football. It is completely unbelievable.

England - birthplace of giants. Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana.

We have beaten them all. We have beaten them all.

Maggie Thatcher can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher, I have a message for you in the middle of the election campaign. I have a message for you: We have knocked England out of the football World Cup.

Maggie Thatcher, as they say in your language in the boxing bars around Madison Square Garden in New York: Your boys took a hell of a beating. Your boys took a hell of a beating."