At first glance, the great Icelandic’s career looks strangely random for a top striker. But there’s a lot under the surface here …
At Ultra UTD, we like to shine a light on isolated moments to reveal something you may not know, and in the case of Eidur Gudjohnsen, it’s his rise to eventual stardom in the Premier League with Chelsea after proving his worth at a club of a much lesser stature in a competition many people deem as inferior.
Something which happens less and less nowadays, but deserves as much recognition nonetheless!
If we were to look at the current Premier League strikers board, it appears as though there are few which have risen from the lower leagues. Danny Ings at Southampton stands out as an example, but even then it took a while for him to develop at other higher-level clubs before settling down with Southampton.
Of them all, perhaps Ollie Watkins (who made a permanent, big-money move from Brentford to Aston Villa this past summer) is the clearest example of making the grade between steps one and two of the English footballing pyramid.
But even then, we’re talking about just over half a season at the time of writing – nowhere near enough data required to collate a genuine idea as to whether he flourished upward or not. The further back into the past you go, and you get some much clearer examples. And perhaps the emergence of ‘foreign invaders‘ into the league and the opportunities that presents has inhibited the pathway which was so fruitful before.
However, of the dwindling few, the example of Eidur Gudjohnsen shines bright.
Nicknamed ‘The Iceman‘ – a delightful nickname which matches his prowess in front of goal with his Icelandic heritage, Eidur Gudjohnsen had proven to be a very strong goal-scorer at English Second Division side Bolton Wanderers before he attracted attention from higher up in the UK hemisphere.
Word on the streets was that he also attracted a wandering eye from further afield, but you know what’s always alluring for one striker to hear when potentially moving clubs – being under the watchful eye and eventual pupillage of another big-name striker. Something which was particularly alluring to Eidur.
As he’s said multiple times in fact – including right here on Sky Sports’ ‘Transfer Talk‘ Podcast.
Here’s what he had to say on the matter when he officially transferred from Bolton over 20 years ago …
” When I was playing well for Bolton [Wanderers], I understand that some clubs in Spain and maybe Italy were interested. But when Chelsea came in, and Gianluca Vialli himself mentioned that he thought I was good. Then that’s all I needed to hear. “Eidur Gudjohnsen
reflecting on his decision to join Chelsea in 2000
Under Vialli, Chelsea were going through a much-needed revamp to revitalise their ranks. Sure, now they’re known as being one of the most affluent teams in England (if not the world), but imagine this – there was once a time where money (and the attractive football which often follows it) was very hard to come by for The Blues’ faithful.
That is, until a certain Gianluca Vialli came in to shake things up – which later encouraged the arrivals of Ruud Gullit, Marcel Desailly, George Weah and a certain Gianfranco Zola – don’t worry, we’ll get to them soon enough.
In fact, Eidur Gudjohnsen himself (purchased for a princely £4.5 million) was thrusted into the very same ranks where Zola had flourished (check out our ‘Icons’ page to stay up-to-date with our impending article on the Italian) and it would take some beating to dislodge the ageing star from his perch. And well, an average of a goal involvement every other game for The Blues, over a period which earned them their inaugural introduction into the world of big-money football – predicated by a deadly partnership with Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink …
… and everything soon begins to make sense.