Hallgrimsson will bring clarity to struggling Ireland, says Lagerback

Hallgrimsson Will Bring Clarity To Struggling Ireland, Says Lagerback
Lagerback and Hallgrimsson masterminded the golden era of Icelandic football together. Photo: Getty Images
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By Philip O'Connor

The appointment of Iceland's Heimir Hallgrimsson as Ireland coach will bring much-needed stability to the stuttering Irish camp, his former coaching partner Lars Lagerback told Reuters.

Lagerback and Hallgrimsson masterminded the golden era of Icelandic football together, reaching the quarter-finals at Euro 2016 where they beat England, with the latter taking over on his own to steer the island nation to its first World Cup in 2018.


"I think he'll try to establish a clear way of playing with Ireland. The way we worked together, and I think he's still into the same thing, was that you must have a very well-organised team," Lagerback said in a telephone interview.

"Players buy into the way you want to play when they have all understood their roles in the team, and I think that is absolutely the most important. I think that's what he's going to make his highest priority."

The FAI announced on Wednesday that a months-long search for a successor to Stephen Kenny was at an end, and that Hallgrimsson - a dentist by profession - would be filling the vacancy.

Hallgrimsson recently stepped down as Jamaica boss after steering them to the Copa America finals where they were eliminated in the group stage, and he will now be tasked with restoring Irish footballing pride.


Ireland were once sixth in the FIFA world rankings in 1992, and though they qualified for Euro 2012 and Euro 2016, they have suffered an alarming slide from 23rd in 2016 to 60th in the most recent list.

Under Kenny, Ireland a generation of new players and tried to play a fluid passing game, but poor results saw him step down in November 2023, opening the door for the 57-year-old Hallgrimsson.

"I hope he's going to continue with that (passing football), it's about adjusting to the qualities you have in your own team in relation to the opposition - if you don't have a realistic view of that, I think it's tough to get good results," Lagerback said, adding that he expected a touch of pragmatism from his protege.

"The games I have seen on TV with Jamaica, he seems to be just as wise as he's always been, so I think the risk that he would try to play some kind of populist football is very small."


Hallgrimsson's first test will be a baptism of fire against England in the Nations League on September 7th, but having steered Iceland to victory over them once, Lagerback said the new Ireland coach would have no fear.

"He already has had a lot of experience of international football. I think it's a very good name that Ireland have got, and I see a great possibility that this will go well," he said.

Asked if he might consider helping out his old friend if he called, the 75-year-old Lagerback chuckled.

"I think that the chance that he would ask is very small, with my age in mind! No, I think that will remain a rhetorical question," he said.

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