Qualified dentist who knocked England out of Euros: Who is Ireland boss Heimir Hallgrimsson?

By PA Sport staff

Heimir Hallgrimsson has been appointed as the new head coach of the Republic of Ireland.

The former Iceland and Jamaica coach replaces interim manager John O’Shea, who took charge following Stephen Kenny’s departure in November.

Here, we pick out five things you may not know about Icelander Hallgrimsson.

Iceland celebrate victory over England at Euro 2016 by performing the Viking thunder clap
Iceland celebrate victory over England at Euro 2016 (Nick Potts/PA) Photo by Nick Potts

Hallgrimsson was joint manager of Iceland, alongside Swede Lars Lagerback, when they embarrassed England at Euro 2016. The smallest nation to grace a major tournament came from behind to win the last-16 tie 2-1 as Roy Hodgson’s reign as England boss ended in ignominious fashion in Nice. Hallgrimsson has another chance to upset England as his first fixture with Ireland will be a Nations League meeting on September 7th in Dublin.

Hodgson is unlikely to be the only person to have had an uncomfortable experience at the hands of Hallgrimsson. The 57-year-old is a qualified dentist and has combined his football career with running a dental practice on the volcanic island of Heimaey in his homeland. “Some coaches play golf or do hiking or whatever, I do dentistry,” he said earlier this year. “I always like to have my hands and head occupied.”

Eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt performs his trademark pose
Eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt regularly watched Heimir Hallgrimsson’s Jamaica team (Martin Rickett/PA) Photo by Martin Rickett

Eight-time Olympic gold medallist Bolt was regularly in attendance at matches during Hallgrimsson’s two-year stint in charge of Jamaica. That role, which included managing Premier League players Michail Antonio and Bobby Decordova-Reid, came to an end following three defeats in the group stage of the ongoing Copa America. Speaking of former sprinter Bolt, Hallgrimsson said: “He’s a good guy. A typical Jamaican, very laid back.”

Just before joining his country’s national team, initially as assistant coach, Hallgrimsson endured an unhappy trip to Dublin in July 2011 while in charge of Icelandic club IBV. His side had won the first leg of the Europa League first-round qualifier against St Patrick’s Athletic 1-0 in Reykjavik. But his maiden match as a manager on Irish soil ended in a 2-0 defeat to Pete Mahon’s men at Richmond Park, resulting in a 2-1 aggregate exit.

During his earlier days with Iceland, Hallgrimsson, who led his nation to World Cup qualification for the first time in 2018, was eager to have a closer connection with fans. According to The New York Times, he therefore invited fans to meet him at a pub to unveil the starting line-up for the next match and discuss the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses. He turned the initial meeting into a tradition. “I would like to give them ownership in what we are doing,” said Hallgrimsson. “A small nation can’t make it with just one guy.”