Gylfi Sigurdsson believes media pressure played a huge role in England’s defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016.
Reflecting on an astonishing year, one that saw Iceland reach the quarter-finals of the European Championship during their major tournament debut, the 2-1 victory over England in the round of 16 in Nice ranked as Sigurdsson’s highlight.
The Swansea City midfielder plays against most of the Three Lions’ stars in the Premier League and feels criticism in the British press plays a huge part in the national team’s inability to shine at international competitions.
Sigurdsson told Omnisport: “Making it to France was a fantastic achievement for the [Iceland] team and the country but beating England in the last 16 was an incredible day.
“It was a special feeling playing. We realised that after we drew against Portugal that we were going to do well in the tournament.
“We did think we would beat England. We knew from the Portugal game that we would do well against England.
“We went into the tournament with no pressure, whereas on the other hand England come under incredible pressure from the media.
“You can see that the players are playing for their clubs and country so there is a lot of media interest in the team and a lot of negative things being written. I think that reflects in their performances.
“If you look into the qualifying rounds they won 10 games in a row but for sure there is a lot of pressure on them when it comes to the final tournament.”
Iceland’s remarkable journey ended in the last eight against hosts and eventual runners-up France, who beat the underdogs 5-2 at Stade de France.
Sigurdsson added: “We lost to France and we played against them on their best day.
“Dimitri Payet was outstanding and I think France were unlucky not to win the tournament.
“The whole tournament was fantastic for us. Of course we knew we were in the last eight but … I don’t think we realised how much of an impact we made at the time.”