Reading keeper on loan in Iceland enjoying the nations Euro journeyRoyals stopper Lewis Ward has been on loan in Iceland with Reykjavík based club Fylkir FC and is watching Iceland’s progress at Euro 2016 with great interest.
Iceland drew 1-1 with Portugal in their first game in a closely fought contest in Saint-Etienne, coming from 1-0 down to equalise and even nearly snatched a win in the closing stages.
“I’ve been watching them at the Euros and they did really well against Portugal,” said Ward. “They were unlucky not to win their first game and it would have been great to see them start with a win.
“They’ve got Hungary next and obviously they played well in their first game with a 2-0 win, but if Iceland can get a win then they’ve got a great chance of progressing.
“Gylfi Sigurdsson is playing for them too so it’s good to see the Reading ties out there. The Academy is great at Reading so it’s brilliant to see him doing well for his country at international level.”
There were 30,000 Icelandic fans at the Group F clash, meaning nearly a tenth of the country’s population were in attendance to watch their team take on the Portuguese, a statistic that doesn’t really surprise Ward after the time he has spent there.
“The fans are really dedicated over there, said Ward. “Where I’m staying there are eight teams in the area and there are a lot of local derbies there so it’s really competitive.
“I’ve played a few games out there, and we’re improving with each game and looking forward to progressing up the table, so it’s looking positive which is great.”
The current Fylkir manager is Icelandic footballing legend Herman Hreidarsson and the experience of working under the former defender has been something that the Royals goalkeeper has thoroughly enjoyed.
“It’s been really good working with Herman. Obviously he’s played for Crystal Palace, Charlton and won the FA Cup with Portsmouth, so he’s played under some really good managers and is a good manager himself.
“I’m learning a lot from him; he’s really experienced, he expects a lot form top-flight players and has a lot of passion and desire which he drives into his team, so it’s really good to see another side to football by playing in that environment,” continued Ward.
“It’s been a great learning experience for me. It was the longest I’ve been away from my family for a period of time. I think I was a way for six or seven weeks the first time I was there, so I’ve learned a lot about myself, who I want to be and how I want to be as a keeper.
“I took my Icelandic phrasebook out with me and picked up some bits and bobs. I can get round the supermarket well enough now anyway!”