Friday, 4 July 2008

The Iceman Cometh

The days grow hot, O Babylon!

West Ham United have completed the first signing of the summer after finally confirming the capture of teenager sensation Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson. The highly regarded 17-year-old centre-half/midfielder put pen to paper on an unspecified 'long-term' contract (tentatively thought to be three years) earlier today after weeks of speculation.

It was revealed back in February how Eyjolfsson had performed impressively during a week long stay with the club; on one occasion provoking Carlton Cole into a fit of pique when he found his young marker harder to shake than a Staines bailiff. A deal was thought to be struck as early as April but it was only last week that the player's former club, HK Kopavogur, announced that he was departing for East London. Eyjolfsson arrived in the capital last night and joined his new team mates at Chadwell Heath this morning for his first session as a United employee.

The Icelander insists he was attracted by the club's record of producing talented youngsters in recent years. Talking to, Eyjolfsson said: "I am really happy to sign for West Ham. I have heard of many good players that have come from the club's academy. It is obviously very scary to move away from my family but it is my dream to play in England and what I have always wanted to do so that outweighs any apprehension I had about moving here. Playing for the under-21s has been the best experience for me and I am so grateful to the coach for giving me that opportunity as it has helped me develop my game so much quicker. I am sure that is part of the reason West Ham signed me."

Eyjolfsson made his competitive debut at U21 level last November and had an instant impact, helping Iceland to their first win of the 2009 European Championship campaign with a 2-1 success in Belgium. Despite his young age - he only turns 18 next month - he already has four U21 caps and is set to continue at that level for his country with two qualifiers still to play in September. Capped previously at U16 and U17 level, Eyjolfsson was a star man at the 2007 European U17 Championship and although Iceland failed to make it beyond the group stage was named by UEFA as one of the players to watch in future. Those finals in Belgium also saw him show his versatility as he played in a holding midfield role, although he admits a preference for playing at the back.

Eyjolfsson made his debut in the Icelandic Premiership aged just 16 and was a regular for HK in the Landsbankadeild last season, starting 12 games. His performances have not gone unnoticed and he went on trial at Hertha Berlin in August while Bayern Munich and Rangers have also shown a keen interest. His father Eyjólfur Gjafar Sverrisson is a former Icelandic international who was capped 66 times by his country and enjoyed an illustrious playing career with Stuttgart, Besiktas and Hertha Berlin. In the Bundesliga alone, he played 251 games and scored 30 goals. He also went on to have a spell in charge of the Iceland team and, like his son, could play in both defence and midfield.

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