Iceland star Gudmundsson on turning down Arsenal & dreaming of Barcelona

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The young attacker could have been a Gunner just like his great grandfather, but opted to make the move to the Eredivisie first instead

PSV attacker Albert Gudmundsson has revealed his internal torment at turning down the chance to play for Arsenal to make his mark on the Eredivisie.

Gudmundsson’s great grandfather, also named Albert, played for Rangers, Arsenal and AC Milan in the 1940s, but the 20-year-old opted to move to Dutch side Heerenveen instead before earning a move to PSV rather than try his luck at the Emirates side.

The youngster had trials with the Gunners and Liverpool four years ago, but preferred a move to Netherlands and he has now revealed why he took the challenging decision to be patient – even if he does let himself dream of playing for Barcelona one.

"It was difficult [to turn down Arsenal],” Gudmundsson, 20, told Goal. "I think my decision to go to Holland was more because I would get more quickly into the first team here. I went on trial at both Liverpool and Arsenal. I had a really good time there in England but, in the end, it was me being realistic about where I would get the most playing time.

"Arsenal are a team I support though, it was such a difficult decision. I was thinking about it for a while. I was 16 at the time and my family helped me with my decision. I think I took the right decision still, but you never know, we will see at the end of my career if I was wrong.

"I am really proud that my great grandfather played for Arsenal. I never got to see him play in person. It was also so long ago that we don’t have any clips of him playing football or anything. When I hear people talk about him they say that he was probably the best player that we ever had.

"It isn’t for me to say, because I never saw him, but I hear he was really, really good. The Premier League was on all the time. My dad is a big Manchester United fan. I support Arsenal. That’s because my grandpa played there. I am and I will always be an Arsenal fan, but if we were not watching the Premier League then we watched the Icelandic league and Spanish league.

"I am a big fan of Spanish football because I like how they play football and keep it so simple. I especially like to watch Barcelona."

The PSV man's father and mother both played for Iceland’s national team and Gudmundsson grew up idolising his elder's talents just as his parents had done with the generations before them.

"I would say I remember when I was two years old or three, I hadn’t started training yet, and my dad was playing for one of the biggest club in Iceland," he continued. "I was growing up around their training. I was fetching the ball for them and all that.

 

With the squad in Italy 🇮🇹

A post shared by Albert Gudmundsson (@albertgudmundsson) on

"I think those are my first memories of football and then after that I started playing with the kids in my age group. There was no way back after that. Maybe I got some of their born talents. I have this football family but it was nothing that I thought about when I was young. I just had fun playing with my friends.

"Basically in the house it was all about football and it still is. That’s how I like it. Football is basically my life. If I am not playing football then I am probably somewhere watching football. My father was my idol when I was younger and probably still is. The way he played was so nice. He was small but quite strong and technically really good.

"I looked up to him all the time and wanted to copy him and I got something from him. My mum, grandpa and grandmother as well and my other family members. I tried to learn a little bit from everyone and apply them to myself. My mother was a box-to-box midfielder, she was a hard-worker.

"She has this Icelandic mentality of never giving up and working hard. I respect her, she doesn’t get enough credit for how good she was also. I didn’t feel it as a pressure or a motivation to walk in their footsteps. I love playing football and they know it and support me.

"It wasn’t like I was pushed into playing football because when I was younger I also played basketball. They told me to just pick what I thought was more fun. Although my dad did tell me a couple of times that there is more money in football!"

He laughs, adding: "No I picked football because I enjoy it and as long as I enjoy then I never want to stop."

Meanwhile, Gudmundsson's club career is going well, but he is keen to get more game time with Phillip Cocu's side. Gudmundsson admits he sympathises with his manager, as players like Hirving Lozano stay ahead of him in the pecking order, but says that he will have frank discussions about his future.

"PSV was a great step for my career to get to an even higher level. So far I haven’t reached my goals at PSV and I want to play more next season," he added. "I don’t doubt my own skills and talent to play at PSV. I have put in everything this season and I will do the same next season.

"Hopefully it will get me more minutes and into the starting eleven, but if I don’t get more minutes then I have to take a look at other options around me. I have spoken with Cocu once already and we are going to sit down again, talk with the boss and see what my role is going to be next season.

"Lozano is really good. He came before the season. He had a good, good season. Even though I did my best in training and with the reserves team, it was hard for the coach. I understand why the coach didn’t make his changes because we won almost every single game.

Albert Gudmundsson quote GFX

"There’s no reason to change the team at that point basically. You name Hirving, he may end up leaving because of such a great season which could be something that opens spaces for me."

Gudmundsson is a keen admirer of of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as being a fan of Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho when he was younger, but PSV team-mate Marco van Ginkel is another player he looks up to, with the Chelsea loanee having played a key role in PSV's successful Eredivisie campaign.

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"I really like Marco. We are really good friends. I like his character, he is a really good captain in the dressing room like I say. I want him to stay for PSV and the team. For him, as my friend, I want to see him at a higher level. I saw him do well at Stoke already but I think he needed these two or three seasons with PSV," the Iceland ace added.

"To get 30 games into his legs and adapt his game more and more. He is 25 years old and I think he is ready. He scored a lot of goals from midfield this season. He is a really good player, PSV must love to keep him, but it is hard when he performs so well like this."

Albert Gudmundsson quote GFX

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