So who are Vikingur Reykjavik, Shamrock Rovers' Champions League opponents?

'We Are Rovers' slogan at Tallaght Stadium

'We Are Rovers' slogan at Tallaght Stadium Credit: Martin Doherty (ETPhotos)

Shamrock Rovers face Icelandic opposition for the second year in a row in the first Champions League qualifying round and the stakes are as high as ever.

Stephen Bradley’s side arrived into the 2023/24 campaign on the back of a Europa Conference League group stage appearance against Belgium's Gent, Norwegian side Molde and Swedes Djurgårdens.

Scandinavian addicts Rovers faced Icelandic champions Breiðablik in the first round of last year’s hullabaloo, losing 2-1 away and 1-0 at home.

A subsequent meeting with Hungary’s Ferencvaros - who eliminated Rovers in the Europa League qualifiers in 2022 - ended in a comprehensive 6-0 aggregate defeat in the Europa Conference League.

But while Tallaght club Rovers face another challenge of Viking opposition - famously an unthreatening horde, unlike the Hungarians - on Tuesday, we ask who are Vikingur Reykjavik?

As always, has you covered on topics of international relevance. We ask…

So who are Vikingur Reykjavik?

Knattspyrnufélagið Víkingur were founded in the Fossvogur district of Reykjavik in 1908, making them nine years younger than the Hoops.

Like Breiðablik, Vikingur are located just slightly outside of the city of Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital, where a plurality of the country’s population live.

Shamrock Rovers, although founded in Ringsend, are located in Tallaght, just outside of Dublin city, where the Square is.

Reykjavik’s Capital Region has a population of roughly 250,000 people, which makes it larger than Tallaght. But Tallaght village has the biggest tanning salon in Europe, so who is really winning?

We have a right to know.

Where is Iceland?

Nobody knows where Iceland is. The island nation is located in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean, which is reportedly near Donegal but nobody can check due to the lack of trains.

The traditional history of Iceland says it was originally populated by the Norseman Ingólfr Arnarson around 870 AD.

Likewise, Dublin was populated and named by the Vikings around 840 AD - the name Dubh Linn (meaning ‘black pool’) derived from the local name for the, um, pool in Ringsend.

In 1899, Shamrock Rovers were founded as a football club in Ringsend, moving around Dublin, including Milltown and Phibsboro, for a century before settling in Tallaght.

Famously, the Vikings also moved around Dublin for a century before settling in Wexford for reasons nobody can explain.

Before the Vikings arrived in Iceland in the ninth century, Saint Brendan is said to have sailed there in the 500s.

And, like fellow Irishman Roger Casement, the famous navigator is known to have gone to sea on the coast of Kerry and nothing notable happened thereafter.

Saint Brendan is also said to have discovered an island - mythically and cleverly known as Saint Brendan’s Island - off the coast of Africa.

A Portuguese navigator informed Henry the Navigator in the 15th century that he had rediscovered the invisible Saint Brendan’s Island.

This is the last recorded case of a Portuguese man seeing something that wasn’t there until Cristiano Ronaldo tried to score 50 free kicks at major Championships.

At the 2016 Euros in France, where Iceland knocked out England in the last 16, their fans spread the Thunderclap. Likewise, the clap spread in Tallaght the same night.

Who are their major rivals?

Historically, Iceland’s biggest threats include volcanoes spewing hot lava onto the surface of the planet and geysers spewing hot air and water into the atmosphere.

And historically, Tallaght’s biggest threats include dudes spewing hot lava onto the surface of the planet and geezers who spew hot air and water into the atmosphere before getting dismissed by An Post.

What is their international pedigree?

Vikingur’s football team is renowned for their continued development, having made their first appearance in the European Cup in 1982 under the guidance of Russian Yuri Sedov.

The club also has a significant reach in handball in Iceland, with ten titles in total. Handball was famously popularised in Ireland in 2009 by Thierry Henry.

Who will League of Ireland fans recognise?

Vikingur’s manager Arnar Gunlaugsson will be familiar to Irish fans for his time as a 32-cap Iceland international and a long English Premier League career.

Gunnlaugson - who had hair early in his playing career - never played against Ireland but racked up appearances in the Premier League for Bolton Wanderers and Leicester City.

He also played for Reykjavik side ÍA against Shelbourne in the 1995 European Cup qualifiers, when the Icelandic side won 3-0 with Vinny Arkins and Alan Byrne sent off for Shels.

Do you feel like you have a better idea of who Shamrock Rovers’ Champions League opponents Vikingur Reykjavik are now? 

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