No Chance of a Meltdown for this Cool Icelander


Since the inception of the W-League, many excellent players have graced our fields with their football talents and experiences on the international stage.

Since the inception of the W-League, many excellent players have graced our fields with their football talents and experiences on the international stage.

As the W-League is becoming more popular with overseas players, we can add another name to that illustrious list – Goalkeeper Thora Helgadottir from Iceland.

The experienced 31-year-old Thora Helgadottir was recently named Iceland-s 2012 Player of the Year and was awarded the highly coveted title of ‘best goalkeeper- in the Swedish Premier League.

The humble Helgadottir says that she is honoured to have been recognised for her achievements in football, but her passion for the game overrides any personal or monetary gain.

“It was really great to receive those awards and to receive acknowledgement” she says. “But it is not why I play football – I play because I love the game.”

Helgadottir has played 92 internationals in her career, has been a member of Iceland-s national squad since the tender age of 17 and competed in the Women-s Euro Championship in 2009, but says that she is relishing the new challenge of playing for the Wanderers in the Australian W-League.

“Australia is an adventure and I thought that it would be fun to try,” she says. “The league is still developing and it would be exciting to see how it advances over the next couple of years.”

Helgadottir is a full-time professional footballer in the Swedish Premier League, a privilege that the majority of women who compete in the W-League do not have. The commanding goalkeeper says that she admires the capacity for her fellow teammates to juggle the demands of full-time or part-time work, study or school with their footballing commitments.

“It is very impressive – they cannot train as hard as we do because of jobs and study and it is how the league in Sweden used to be ten years ago,” says Helgadottir. “It is very hard for them, so I hope Australian football will continue to progress to one day reach that level of professionalism.”

Helgadottir has herself experienced the difficulties of simultaneously forging a career outside football and maintaining her form as goalkeeper for the Icelandic National team.

After completing her degree at the prestigious Duke University in America, Helgadottir pursued a career in finance for four years whilst maintaining her position as the number one goalkeeper for Iceland.

“I no longer had the same time for football as I do now,” says Helgadottir. “It was not the ideal situation and I began to realise that although a job can wait – football cannot. Your body can only go so far.”

Helgadottir has travelled extensively throughout her impressive footballing career, having played in the premier leagues in Iceland, Belgium, Sweden and Norway. She has played nearly 45 games in the last year – including 22 games for Malmö, her club in Sweden, 12 national games as well competing in the European Champions League.

With the 2013 EUFA Women-s Championship (Women-s Euro Championships) to be held in Sweden in early July, Helgadottir says that playing for the Wanderers in the W-League has provided her with an opportunity to maintain her fitness and form ahead of the tournament.

“It is probably one of the toughest tournaments for women-s football because Europe overall has a much more competitive environment,” she says. “Last tournament we had to play against the heavyweights Germany, France and Norway and had a few narrow losses. We were close but not quite good enough, so we are hoping to make up for it next year.”

With temperatures soaring above the 35 degree Celsius mark during the Wanderers last two games at Campbelltown Stadium, Helgadottir concedes that she is still adjusting to the sweltering conditions.

“Although we do not play in the high winter in Europe, temperatures can reach as low as zero degrees,” she says. “I am not quite used to this heat as of yet – so I guess that I am lucky to be a goalkeeper!”

Despite the number of accolades and achievements that Helgadottir has to her name, the vastly experienced Icelandic footballer hopes that she can add another to the list.

“Our goal is make the finals with the Wanderers and we definitely have a team that can do it,” she says. “The league is very close and a bit of a lottery at the moment. We hope that we can achieve it for our fans and ourselves.”