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Iceland Defeats England In Historic Euro 2016 Upset


And now for what we suspect was the greatest moment in the history of sports for Iceland. Iceland is the smallest nation ever to play in the European soccer championships, and yesterday in Euro 2016, in a shocking 2-1 win, Iceland beat and eliminated England, home to the world's richest soccer league.

Earlier I spoke with Kristinn Kjærnested, president of KR Reykjavik. That's a football club in Iceland. And I asked him how exciting this is historic win was for him.

KRISTINN KJÆRNESTED: Well, it was massive. You didn't see anyone on the streets, nobody around except at pubs or bars or watching the game at home. So it was a huge achievement by a great group of players.

SIEGEL: Did you think they had a prayer of getting this far in the tournament?

KJÆRNESTED: No. I have to be honest. I think that nobody expected it.

SIEGEL: We have some sound of Icelandic fans in France and their Viking chant.


SIEGEL: Boy, you're a scary lot.

KJÆRNESTED: Yeah, and singing, you know - from one and half hour, they all just started singing, you know, inside the stadium before the players go out to warm up, and they don't stop until maybe 45 minutes after the final whistle. It felt up there we were the only one at the stadium.

SIEGEL: But you know, I had to wonder, listening to an Icelandic player after the game talking about how the English are good at leaving Europe - that's what they did, you know, in the soccer game, too - I was wondering, is there some hostility left over from 2008 from the great terrible banking collapse? Is there some resentment toward England that we're hearing in this?

KJÆRNESTED: (Laughter) We obviously, you know - we're not happy when Gordon Brown, who was the prime minister of U.K., you know, put us on a terrorist list. We couldn't believe it, but that was the case. And now, you know, we beat them, so there's a lot of happy people here in Iceland now.

SIEGEL: Little bit of payback there. Iceland advances to play France on Sunday. Do you think they can keep this momentum up?

KJÆRNESTED: I've got to be honest. I think that they are much better team than the English ones, and it's going to be a very difficult game.

SIEGEL: Kristinn Kjærnested, president of the Icelandic football club KR Reykjavik, thanks for speaking with us.

KJÆRNESTED: Thank you very much, Robert. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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