David Beckham and Frank Lampard were idols for Iceland international Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The Swansea City midfielder has something of a reputation as a free-kick specialist, a trait which he developed in response to watching Beckham at Manchester United.
Lampard’s goal-scoring exploits – particularly at Chelsea – also influenced the 26-year-old, with the two former England internationals among the players Sigurdsson tried to emulate.
“Growing up as I kid I used to watch the Premier League and used to see David Beckham taking those kinds of free-kicks, so from a young age I was probably quite lucky to have him on the TV every week,” Sigurdsson said in an interview with FIFA.com.
“It was something I used to practice when I was in Iceland and just kept doing it after I left.
“My dad played in Iceland and I think went over to Sweden for a couple of years. He and my brother used to bring me out when I was little, and then of course just watching football [helped me develop my style].
“Beckham and Frank Lampard were the ones that I particularly liked watching, and with Lampard scoring so many goals from midfield it was hard not to look up to him.”
Sigurdsson has been integral to Iceland’s qualification for Euro 2016 – which they clinched with a 0-0 draw in Kazakhstan in September – having played more minutes across nine matches than any other member of his team.
Securing a place in France from a difficult group is a fantastic achievement, according to the midfielder, but he does not believe there will be any expectations on the team to make a big impact at the tournament in June and July.
“It was an unbelievable feeling. Of course, after seeing our draw, with the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Turkey all in the same group with us, some of us considered it an impossible target,” Sigurdsson added.
“But then to be able to finish the job off with two games to go is an unbelievable achievement and the feeling that goes with it, to be on our way to the finals, is fantastic.
Iceland conclude their qualifying campaign at home to Kazakhstan on Tuesday and will finish top of Group A if they take all three points.
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