Aidan Reagh is a German-speaking American (kind of like John Brooks). He likes to write about the Bundesliga and all things football. Here, he interviews a young Icelandic player who has just moved to the US to further their career.
I had the opportunity to sit down, turn on my laptop and Skype Icelandic youth international and Wake Forest University sensation Hulda Hrund Arnarsdóttir. Hulda just joined the university, but her journey did not start with a plane ticket out of Reykjavik.
Her journey began much earlier. Arnarsdóttir began playing the beautiful game with her brother and to make some new friends, just like any child who begins playing a new sport. However, Hulda became devoted to the game and quickly “moved to the front of the pack” in terms of talent. Back in 2013, when Arnarsdóttir was just 14 years old, Hulda started making senior team appearances with her club (Fylkir FC). Now, let that sink in for all of us. While Arnarsdóttir was making her senior team debut, playing women double her age, what were we doing at age 14?
In the 2013 season at Fylkir FC, Hulda Arnarsdóttir contributed to 12 goals in a mere 15 games with even more assists. On a collective note, Fylkir FC won promotion to the Icelandic Premium League. The promotion-winning season is a special one for Arnarsdóttir, one of the brightest memories in her young career in fact. Fylkir FC’s atmosphere was inspiring to Hulda and the squad was on the same page, which made Fylkir FC unstoppable on the pitch.
After discussing her roots in the game and some memories, I asked Hulda about her playing preferences and if she had any mentors or role models in the game. When it comes to mentors, Hulda mentioned how much she enjoyed playing alongside Hólmfríður Magnúsdóttir and Ruth Þórðardóttir.
In case you are not familiar with the names, Hólmfríður Magnúsdóttir can be viewed as a bit of a legend for Icelandic soccer fans. Magnúsdóttir has made 100 appearances for the national team since 2003 and was crucial in their unprecedented EURO 2013 quarter-final run. Not to mention the fact that Magnúsdóttir was an assistant coach to the U11 side that Hulda played on.
As for Ruth Þórðardóttir, she too was an assistant coach, however she was on the U14 staff that arguably proved to be the breakthrough side for Hulda in making her senior team debut.
When it comes to a role model, Cristiano Ronaldo is the player to get that title. Hulda Arnarsdóttir has a James Milner-like quality in the style of she is able to play nearly every position on the pitch without having her manager worried. When I asked what her favorite position to play is, I got a very humble answer – “I haven’t decided, but as long as I get minutes, I am happy.”
When she is getting those minutes, she dazzles on the pitch with skill moves that even CR7 may struggle to pull off. Be it pulling off the nutmeg or breaking away towards goal, she is a real crowd pleaser. Just like Ronaldo, she wins. Her individual accolades range from Golden Boots, Best Player awards, and Most Promising Player awards, however when I asked which one was she proudest of, Hulda again stayed humble by saying it is too hard to pick one because all of them represent the hard work and effort she has put in.
Speaking of hard work and effort, Hulda has been capped by the U17 (9 games, 1 goal) and U19 (11 games, 4 goals) Icelandic national teams but knows a cap on the senior team will not be easy. When I asked what needed to be done, in her eyes, to be worthy of a call up, she mentioned the need to continue scoring goals and working hard.
Working hard for Arnarsdóttir has not just led to opportunities on the national teams, but also an opportunity to play for one of the best women’s soccer programs in the US. On July 5th, Hulda Arnarsdóttir left Iceland for Wake Forest University, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Moving to any new country can be stressful. Starting a new life at a university can be stressful. However, when I discussed this with Hulda she mentioned how comfortable campus is and how she is adapting well to life in the states.
Remember all of the individual trophies she has? Hulda is already adding more. In the first week of the award being issued, Hulda Arnarsdóttir won the Academic D.E.A.C of the Week. The Academic D.E.A.C award is a Wake Forest University award eligible for student athletes who perform well in both the classroom and the playing field (or court). Winning the award is far from easy, Arnarsdóttir discussed how she went eight months without studying (due to graduating in high school) and then having to deal with English speaking lecturers while trying to translate her notes into Icelandic. With that being said, “The Viking” has adapted well.
Moving back onto the pitch, Hulda has already scored a goal for her new side. A cross came in and the opposing goalkeeper couldn’t get a hold of the ball and Hulda Arnarsdóttir pounced on the opportunity and tapped it in for a goal. Hulda defined the ball as the “worst first goal ever but a goal is a goal”.
I turned to the future as the concluding question of the interview, asking “If you were to pick any club in the world to play for professionally…”, Hulda responded with a long pause as she decided. The three clubs that came to her mind were Manchester City, Bayern Munich, and Rosenborg BK. However, for the time being, Hulda Arnarsdóttir is a Demon Deacon at Wake Forest University.