There have been plenty of successful footballing families over the years that have captured the imagination and spanned the generations, with the likes of Peter and Kasper Schmeichel, Danny and Daley Blind, and Noel and Stephen Hunt all working to keep football in their family.
What Reading fans may not know, is that we have a sporting family of our own here at the club! Young defender Axel Andresson, who made his debut in our Carabao Cup tie against Millwall back in August, comes from a family which is known for something other than football!
Axel’s father, Andrés Guðmundsson, was a world-renowned strongman and professional shot-putter. Among his achievements as an athlete were winning the 1994 World Strongman Challenge as well as taking the title of Iceland’s Strongest Man in 1999, in a country with rich heritage in strongman competition all around the world!
Andrés holds a very young Axel while he competes in the Highland Games...
We sat down with Axel and Andrés and they took us through their sporting journey as a family…
Axel remembers being inspired by his dad growing up, saying: “He used to be in strongman competitions for loads of years. I followed him for many years and obviously I looked up to him every single day.
“He was my inspiration to do sports, obviously it’s not football but I used my strength, I got my strength, I’ve got good genes! He’s the creator, so it’s been good over the years.”
So, with such a change of sport from what Andrés used to do to compete, including taking part in the Highland Games and international athletics, what made Axel choose football? “I actually think my first gift as a child was football,” he elaborated.
“Now that Iceland have just got to the World Cup for the first time, it’s just something about the enthusiasm in Iceland, everyone just loves football! All my mates in school loved football, and I was included in that.”
Andrés beams when he is asked about having his son in the Reading Academy, adding: “It’s amazing. My background is in strongman and I was a shot putter too, I never thought about football!
“He (points at Axel) was born with football, always throwing balls, kicking balls, it’s amazing.
“It’s so strange, all of them just loved football! We have never had to push them to go and train. Never. But they always go and do it for themselves.”
Axel has shown a passion for football for as long as he can remember, seen here trying his luck between the posts...
That drive and passion for sport brought the family to England, and Axel found a home at Reading through a man who now has his name enshrined in a stand at Madejski Stadium.
“I was looking at a few different clubs, then when I came over here Eamonn (Dolan) was the one that took me straight away.
“My agent knew Eamonn for loads of years, and Eamonn was 100% the reason why I came here.
“I owe him so much, I miss him every day, I think he’s the main reason why I came over as an Under-16.”
Axel was proud to make his full debut against Millwall in the Carabao Cup in the shadow of the Eamonn Dolan Stand: “It’s great. I’m young, I’ve got lots of years to come and, thinking about Eamonn, he brought me here three years ago.
“It was wonderful to be able to do this as young as I am, I’ll make him proud. I’m sure of that.”
Andrés made the trip over for the occasion as well, he said he couldn’t miss the opportunity to watch his eldest son make the step that every young footballer hopes for: “We flew over to Britain to watch it, it was amazing. It was huge, a huge step for him to take the step into the main team.”
With a strongman father, the question had to come as to whether or not Axel could beat his dad in an arm wrestle!
Axel smiled: “I’m not going to lie, I never have and I probably never will, but I’ll try until the last day of my life! Many times tried, many times tried…”
Andrés is looking forward to the future with his sons feeling at home with the Royals, with his pride visible on his face: “I’m very proud of my sons, and of Reading.
“It’s an amazing club and very professional with everything, I’ve been here for three years and never have to complain about anything. Very pro!”