Jon Dadi Bodvarsson is the latest Icelandic player to call Bolton Wanderers home and joining his new club has brought home childhood memories of following his compatriots when they played for the Whites.
Bodvarsson joined Wanderers after leaving Millwall, signing an 18-month contract at the University of Bolton stadium.
Bodvarsson is the latest name in a long list of Icelandic players who have played for Wanderers, including Gudni Bergsson, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Gretar Steinsson.
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The striker has spoken about his move to Bolton and why so many Icelandic players move to England and play in the Premier League and EFL.
And he revealed that conversations with Steinsson and Bergsson before and after joining Wanderers helped convince Bodvarsson that Bolton is the right club for him.
He said: “When I was a kid, when I was watching the Premier League in Iceland, I saw Gudni Bergsson there, and I always kept in touch with Bolton.
“For me, when I heard that Bolton was interested, I was like a child.
“The Icelanders are very proud to see some of their own, especially in England if they play there.
“I remember all of them, Gudjohnsen, for example, he was the main one who took care of me when I was a child. He was my idol, so following in his footsteps is a dream come true. I wish I could do something as good as them.
“This league is very physical and hard-working. I think it’s something we’ve always grown up with in Iceland. The conditions are quite tough.”
“I remember when I was a kid, I used to train on gravel fields. Maybe it’s the mentality or something in us: never give up, work hard, be honest. That always takes you a long way in football. And obviously, if you can add some quality in that too, always helpful.
“I’ve always been pretty hard-working. I try to do the best I can. It doesn’t matter if I’m having a bad game or a good game, I try to at least put in the effort there.”
“I spoke to Gretar Steinsson. Now she is working with the national team at the moment. When I heard about Bolton’s interest, I spoke to him and asked him questions. He was very excited about it.
“I had nothing but positive things to say about how nice the club is, especially making the players feel welcome straight away. That’s the way it has been so far, not just the fans, but the whole atmosphere on the training ground is very familiar”.
“Obviously that played a part. Gudni Bergsson also spoke to me after the game the other day and told me how happy she was for me. Not only signing for Bolton but playing properly again because I hadn’t been playing for a while. I was in Millwall. It’s been great.”
Bodvarsson made his debut for Wanderers last weekend, coming off the bench in the second half of a 1-0 away win against Shrewsbury Town.
The forward has settled in very quickly after his time with the Lions, in which he had only played once this season and lacked game acumen.
He has been away with his national team which has helped Bodvarsson get minutes under his belt as he aims to help Wanderers climb up the League One table and was surprised by the reception from the Bolton fans who they traveled against Salop.
He said: “I spoke to my family after the game. No disrespect to Millwall, but coming here, you feel very welcome. Coming in, it was like ‘wow’. It gives you an extra push and you want to do well for them because they they’re cheering. I was very, very happy after the match. I hope I can give something back to them.
“Very quickly, the guys and the coach have been great, everyone is aware of my situation and that I have not played for a long time. I was missing a few minutes.
“Just before I came here I played for the national team, which has helped me a lot. I feel like my fitness is getting better and better, with confidence.
“Mainly getting more minutes and eventually playing more regularly. I hope to take the club a little higher up the table, step by step.
“The team has made positive steps forward, they have just been promoted from League Two and have been going through a tough time, but getting two wins in a row is great and we can see how it plays out until the end of the season. .
“I think there will be a lot of games in February, so not just me, but other players who haven’t been playing regularly, we need to be on our toes and ready.
“It’s good to play again in this kind of environment. I feel alive again.”
The Wanderers face Sunderland this weekend at the University of Bolton Stadium, where Bodvarsson could make his home debut.
The striker isn’t sure he’s ready to start the game but he’ll give it his all no matter how many minutes his new manager Ian Evatt gives him.
He said: “I can’t wait. It will be a great game for us. Sunderland are a great team. Hopefully we will play well and get the win. It will be a good test and I think everyone is excited about that.” .
“I don’t know yet (if he’s ready to start this weekend). I honestly have no idea, if I had the answer I would give it to you, but I don’t know. I will be happy with what I have. I’m excited to be back, whether it’s 20 minutes or 90, I’ll be ready.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.