Reykjavik might be a distant 4,000 kilometres from Bristol, yet Hordur Magnusson gambled on the longest route in the interest of chasing the dream of becoming a professional footballer.

The Icelandic defender opted for the Reyjkavik-Bristol via Italy route. At the young age 18, Magnusson travelled to Italy to join the youth ranks of the Old Lady of Italy, Juventus.

From Reykjavik to Italy

Mr Luigi Del Neri, the then Juventus coach, had a soft spot for Danish full-back Frederick Sørensen, who went to play over 20 matches that season. During that term, Del Neri was keen on the possibility of bringing in another Scandinavian player and follow Sørensen's footpath, who was putting up some impressive performances at that time. In particular in the 1-0 home victory over Inter, when he was constantly breathing over Samuel Eto'o's neck. Magnusson was the name circulating in Turin, and he left Fram Reykjavik to seal his move with Juventus in January 2011 and was added to the U-19 squad.

''At Juventus I learned to play real football. I trained with some great players daily and that helped me to learn more about my role in this game.''

In the summer of 2013, Magnusson left Turin to taste senior football and joined Spezia Calcio in Serie B, who at that time were strengthening their squad in order to salvage their Serie B status. The following summer, he was loaned out once again from Turin, this time to Cesena, where courtesy of his determinant and pivotal role at the team, he promptly became a fan favourite at the Stadio Dino Manuzzi.

''I think I am really lucky that I have played in Italy before coming to England. In Italy, we focused more on the tactical aspect and how to implement our game from the back, while in England, we rely more on direct football and the physical aspect of the game.''

England is calling

Although his performances were praised on a regular basis by Italian pundits, Juventus did not keep him for the 2016-17 campaign. On 13th July, Magnusson, or Maggie, as he is usually called, packed his bags and travelled back to Northern Europe; specifically in England as he signed for Bristol City in the Championship.

''I am really enjoying it at Bristol, and I admit that the Championship is on a higher level than the Italian Serie B. Just look at the teams we face, from Newcastle to Aston Villa, from Norwich to Leeds United.''

When asked about the objectives of the club, Magnusson explained that in a tough league like the Championship, the primary aim is to obtain as much points as possible, and then at the end of the season, an evaluation of the results achieved would be done.

Iceland - what is behind this sudden development?

Magnusson formed part of Iceland's surprising journey at the European Championships last summer, and he was delighted in sharing his thoughts about Iceland's development in the game of football, 'Iceland are developing strongly in football, and it was not just a case that we qualified and did well in France."

He continued, "Taking myself as an example, I was exported at a young age into another culture and other players did went through the same path, therefore it was natural that the quality level of our team would increase. Exportation of players is a key issue in a country's development.''

''Also, Iceland have been working intensely in building indoor training centres where we can train, and were young players can train as well. The weather in Iceland is not ideal to play football in, therefore having these indoor complexes, it gives a huge boost to our movement.''

About the author
Gianluca Lia
Gianluca Lia (Birzebbuga, 30/01/1996) is a sport journalist since 2014. Graduated in Bachelor of Communications (General) in the University of Malta. Media contributor within the Women's Department at the Malta Football Association since March 2015 and sports writer for Malta's leading newspaper, Times of Malta (Allied Newspapers Limited) since February 2017. Contributes as a freelancer on international platforms as well, on VAVEL UK, VAVEL US, MLSSoccerItalia, Into The Calderon (SB Nation) and Twice A Cosmo (SB Nation).