- Finnbogason "pleased to play in the Bundesliga."
- Signed permanent Augsburg deal at the end of 2015/16.
- Has scored eight goals in 34 appearances for Euro debutants Iceland.
He may represent the smallest nation at this summer's UEFA European Championships, but there is nothing in the slightest bit inconspicuous about FC Augsburg's Iceland international striker Alfred Finnbogason.
With seven goals in just 14 Rückrunde appearances, the 27-year-old had a massive hand in keeping Augsburg afloat in 2015/16 and will doubtless be just as important to Iceland's hopes of getting through UEFA Euro 2016 with their pride intact in the weeks ahead.
'A good mentality'
"He's just always in the thick of things," said Augsburg defender Philipp Max after Finnbogason netted the only goal of the game in Matchday 30's relegation six-pointer at home to VfB Stuttgart back in April. "What he did was world-class."
Max is not alone in his admiration for a player who only joined the club at the turn of the year - initially on loan and later on a permanent deal. "Finnbogason fits very well with the team because he is a good guy and has a good mentality," explained former Augsburg head coach Markus Weinzierl. "That's why it hasn't taken long for him to integrate."
Finnbogason had, in fact, long been on Weinzierl's wish list and even met with the now FC Schalke 04 boss prior to his ill-fated transfer to Real Sociedad de Futbol in 2014. He had scored an impressive 59 goals in 70 matches for Eredivisie outfit SC Heerenveen, but his time in Spain was marred by injury. After struggling to settle in Greece during a subsequent loan move to Olympiakos, Augsburg offered him a welcome route back to northern Europe.
"I'm pleased that I got the chance to play here in the Bundesliga, which is in the top three leagues of the world," Finnbogason said. "Every game has full stadiums, lots of tempo and I really like the style of football here. I've always been a fan of the Bundesliga and Ausgburg welcomed me incredibly well - that doesn't always happen."
'A special group of players'
Team spirit is also an integral feature of an unfancied Iceland side that reached the UEFA Euro 2016 finals for the first time in their history by ousting, among others, the Netherlands in qualifying. "It's a special group of players," Finnbogason told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. "I think nine players [from the 2011 Under-21 European Championships] are in the national team and this is the core of the team. We have been playing together for eight to 10 years, we know each other. We play well together as a group and outside the field we are friends."
As tournament newcomers, Iceland will automatically be assigned underdog status in France. Group F rivals Portugal, Austria and Hungary should all provide thorough examinations of their big-stage credentials, but with a striker of the ilk of Finnbogason - back to his best and with his feet firmly under the table at homely Bundesliga club Augsburg - Lars Lagerback and Heimer Hallgrimsson's men have absolutely nothing to fear.