History

Top Gunn

As the away-goal rule is confined to history, we salute Iceland’s Hemmi Gunn: scorer of the European Cup’s first away-goal winner

WORDS Michael Harrold

The first European Cup tie decided on away goals was a step into the unknown for Icelandic champions Valur. Not because the regulation was new and unusual, but because it meant that for the first time an Icelandic side would be playing well into October, long after harsh weather normally forced people indoors onto handball and basketball courts.

The tie in question? The 1967/68 European Cup first round: Valur against Luxembourgian champions Jeunesse Esch. “We drew with them on both occasions; it was 1-1 here and 3-3 in Luxembourg,” says Halldór Einarsson, a defender in that Valur side. “It was tight and we looked at each other in the locker room after the game and asked, ‘What’s going to happen now?’

Cool as ice Hemmi Gunn (top); Lucas Moura celebrates his away-goal heroics for Tottenham (above)

“We’d have to continue to train because normally that would be the end of the season coming into October – football would stop for winter. We were all just amateurs. Nobody got paid a single penny for it, but it was interesting because it was the first time an Icelandic team progressed into the second round.”

On a rest day after the group stage at EURO 2020, focus briefly turned back to club football with the announcement that the away-goals rule had been binned. The arguments for scrapping it were well worn and the decision had been coming. Too much of an advantage to the away side; it made the home team in the first leg too cautious, fearful of conceding. And was there still a major disadvantage playing away anyway, in this era of seamless travel and pristine pitches?

The first European Cup tie decided on away goals was a step into the unknown for Icelandic champions Valur. Not because the regulation was new and unusual, but because it meant that for the first time an Icelandic side would be playing well into October, long after harsh weather normally forced people indoors onto handball and basketball courts.

The tie in question? The 1967/68 European Cup first round: Valur against Luxembourgian champions Jeunesse Esch. “We drew with them on both occasions; it was 1-1 here and 3-3 in Luxembourg,” says Halldór Einarsson, a defender in that Valur side. “It was tight and we looked at each other in the locker room after the game and asked, ‘What’s going to happen now?’

Cool as ice Hemmi Gunn (top); Lucas Moura celebrates his away-goal heroics for Tottenham (above)

“We’d have to continue to train because normally that would be the end of the season coming into October – football would stop for winter. We were all just amateurs. Nobody got paid a single penny for it, but it was interesting because it was the first time an Icelandic team progressed into the second round.”

On a rest day after the group stage at EURO 2020, focus briefly turned back to club football with the announcement that the away-goals rule had been binned. The arguments for scrapping it were well worn and the decision had been coming. Too much of an advantage to the away side; it made the home team in the first leg too cautious, fearful of conceding. And was there still a major disadvantage playing away anyway, in this era of seamless travel and pristine pitches?

Read the full story
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Away-goal drama provided by Lucas Moura for Spurs at Ajax in the 2019 semi-finals, or indeed Fernando Llorente’s goal at Manchester City in the previous round, is now a thing of the past. Kylian Mbappé’s second goal away to Bayern München in the round of 16 this season will go down as the last ever away-goal winner in the European Cup. And the first? A strike by a national hero in his own right: one Hermann Gunnarsson, affectionately known in Iceland as Hemmi Gunn.

After a 1-1 draw at the Laugardalsvöllur stadium in Reykjavík, the two teams reconvened at Stade Émile Mayrisch on 1 October. Valur jumped to a 2-0 lead only to be pegged back to 2-1. Gunn’s second of the night on the hour made it 3-1 and looked to have put the tie beyond reach but Esch hit back with two goals in the final four minutes. 3-3. 4-4 on aggregate. Valur, though, held on to become the first side in the competition to advance on away goals.

“HE WAS AN EXTREMELY FUNNY GUY; ALWAYS A BIT OF BANTER, ALWAYS CHEERFUL AND TECHNICALLY A VERY GOOD PLAYER”


For Gunn, the goal was a sidenote in a fascinating career. “He was an extremely funny guy, always a bit of banter, always cheerful and technically a very good player,” says team-mate and lifelong friend Einarsson. “At the time he was working at the post office, then he got a job at the tax office, before getting into radio and then TV.”

Gunn, who died in 2013, won three league titles during his five years at Valur spread over two spells; in 1969 he had a brief stint with Austrian side Eisenstadt, becoming only the third Icelander to play professionally. “He lacked discipline” to succeed at that level, says Einarsson, but Gunn found another calling after ended his playing career following Valur’s title win in 1976. “He became the most popular TV personality here. He was good looking, he was funny – he really was funny – and it was very easy for him to keep a conversation going with anybody. He had his own show, he would invite guests and he would always get the best out of people.”

Gunn’s talk show – Á tali hjá Hemmi Gunn (Talking to Hemmi Gunn) – on public broadcaster RÚV, was a national institution in the 1980s and 1990s, with whole episodes still available on YouTube. Later, like all good footballers, Gunn also got into music and released an album. “He wasn’t a good singer but it was OK – with the right song and the right lyrics,” says Einarsson. “It was popular – at the time, everything he touched was popular.” Including, for Valur fans, an away goal that has forever left its mark on Europe’s biggest stage.

The first European Cup tie decided on away goals was a step into the unknown for Icelandic champions Valur. Not because the regulation was new and unusual, but because it meant that for the first time an Icelandic side would be playing well into October, long after harsh weather normally forced people indoors onto handball and basketball courts.

The tie in question? The 1967/68 European Cup first round: Valur against Luxembourgian champions Jeunesse Esch. “We drew with them on both occasions; it was 1-1 here and 3-3 in Luxembourg,” says Halldór Einarsson, a defender in that Valur side. “It was tight and we looked at each other in the locker room after the game and asked, ‘What’s going to happen now?’

Cool as ice Hemmi Gunn (top); Lucas Moura celebrates his away-goal heroics for Tottenham (above)

“We’d have to continue to train because normally that would be the end of the season coming into October – football would stop for winter. We were all just amateurs. Nobody got paid a single penny for it, but it was interesting because it was the first time an Icelandic team progressed into the second round.”

On a rest day after the group stage at EURO 2020, focus briefly turned back to club football with the announcement that the away-goals rule had been binned. The arguments for scrapping it were well worn and the decision had been coming. Too much of an advantage to the away side; it made the home team in the first leg too cautious, fearful of conceding. And was there still a major disadvantage playing away anyway, in this era of seamless travel and pristine pitches?

Top Gunn
History

Top Gunn

As the away-goal rule is confined to history, we salute Iceland’s Hemmi Gunn: scorer of the European Cup’s first away-goal winner

WORDS Michael Harrold

The first European Cup tie decided on away goals was a step into the unknown for Icelandic champions Valur. Not because the regulation was new and unusual, but because it meant that for the first time an Icelandic side would be playing well into October, long after harsh weather normally forced people indoors onto handball and basketball courts.

The tie in question? The 1967/68 European Cup first round: Valur against Luxembourgian champions Jeunesse Esch. “We drew with them on both occasions; it was 1-1 here and 3-3 in Luxembourg,” says Halldór Einarsson, a defender in that Valur side. “It was tight and we looked at each other in the locker room after the game and asked, ‘What’s going to happen now?’

Cool as ice Hemmi Gunn (top); Lucas Moura celebrates his away-goal heroics for Tottenham (above)

“We’d have to continue to train because normally that would be the end of the season coming into October – football would stop for winter. We were all just amateurs. Nobody got paid a single penny for it, but it was interesting because it was the first time an Icelandic team progressed into the second round.”

On a rest day after the group stage at EURO 2020, focus briefly turned back to club football with the announcement that the away-goals rule had been binned. The arguments for scrapping it were well worn and the decision had been coming. Too much of an advantage to the away side; it made the home team in the first leg too cautious, fearful of conceding. And was there still a major disadvantage playing away anyway, in this era of seamless travel and pristine pitches?

Penalty Pedigree

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The first European Cup tie decided on away goals was a step into the unknown for Icelandic champions Valur. Not because the regulation was new and unusual, but because it meant that for the first time an Icelandic side would be playing well into October, long after harsh weather normally forced people indoors onto handball and basketball courts.

The tie in question? The 1967/68 European Cup first round: Valur against Luxembourgian champions Jeunesse Esch. “We drew with them on both occasions; it was 1-1 here and 3-3 in Luxembourg,” says Halldór Einarsson, a defender in that Valur side. “It was tight and we looked at each other in the locker room after the game and asked, ‘What’s going to happen now?’

Cool as ice Hemmi Gunn (top); Lucas Moura celebrates his away-goal heroics for Tottenham (above)

“We’d have to continue to train because normally that would be the end of the season coming into October – football would stop for winter. We were all just amateurs. Nobody got paid a single penny for it, but it was interesting because it was the first time an Icelandic team progressed into the second round.”

On a rest day after the group stage at EURO 2020, focus briefly turned back to club football with the announcement that the away-goals rule had been binned. The arguments for scrapping it were well worn and the decision had been coming. Too much of an advantage to the away side; it made the home team in the first leg too cautious, fearful of conceding. And was there still a major disadvantage playing away anyway, in this era of seamless travel and pristine pitches?

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Away-goal drama provided by Lucas Moura for Spurs at Ajax in the 2019 semi-finals, or indeed Fernando Llorente’s goal at Manchester City in the previous round, is now a thing of the past. Kylian Mbappé’s second goal away to Bayern München in the round of 16 this season will go down as the last ever away-goal winner in the European Cup. And the first? A strike by a national hero in his own right: one Hermann Gunnarsson, affectionately known in Iceland as Hemmi Gunn.

After a 1-1 draw at the Laugardalsvöllur stadium in Reykjavík, the two teams reconvened at Stade Émile Mayrisch on 1 October. Valur jumped to a 2-0 lead only to be pegged back to 2-1. Gunn’s second of the night on the hour made it 3-1 and looked to have put the tie beyond reach but Esch hit back with two goals in the final four minutes. 3-3. 4-4 on aggregate. Valur, though, held on to become the first side in the competition to advance on away goals.

“HE WAS AN EXTREMELY FUNNY GUY; ALWAYS A BIT OF BANTER, ALWAYS CHEERFUL AND TECHNICALLY A VERY GOOD PLAYER”


For Gunn, the goal was a sidenote in a fascinating career. “He was an extremely funny guy, always a bit of banter, always cheerful and technically a very good player,” says team-mate and lifelong friend Einarsson. “At the time he was working at the post office, then he got a job at the tax office, before getting into radio and then TV.”

Gunn, who died in 2013, won three league titles during his five years at Valur spread over two spells; in 1969 he had a brief stint with Austrian side Eisenstadt, becoming only the third Icelander to play professionally. “He lacked discipline” to succeed at that level, says Einarsson, but Gunn found another calling after ended his playing career following Valur’s title win in 1976. “He became the most popular TV personality here. He was good looking, he was funny – he really was funny – and it was very easy for him to keep a conversation going with anybody. He had his own show, he would invite guests and he would always get the best out of people.”

Gunn’s talk show – Á tali hjá Hemmi Gunn (Talking to Hemmi Gunn) – on public broadcaster RÚV, was a national institution in the 1980s and 1990s, with whole episodes still available on YouTube. Later, like all good footballers, Gunn also got into music and released an album. “He wasn’t a good singer but it was OK – with the right song and the right lyrics,” says Einarsson. “It was popular – at the time, everything he touched was popular.” Including, for Valur fans, an away goal that has forever left its mark on Europe’s biggest stage.

The first European Cup tie decided on away goals was a step into the unknown for Icelandic champions Valur. Not because the regulation was new and unusual, but because it meant that for the first time an Icelandic side would be playing well into October, long after harsh weather normally forced people indoors onto handball and basketball courts.

The tie in question? The 1967/68 European Cup first round: Valur against Luxembourgian champions Jeunesse Esch. “We drew with them on both occasions; it was 1-1 here and 3-3 in Luxembourg,” says Halldór Einarsson, a defender in that Valur side. “It was tight and we looked at each other in the locker room after the game and asked, ‘What’s going to happen now?’

Cool as ice Hemmi Gunn (top); Lucas Moura celebrates his away-goal heroics for Tottenham (above)

“We’d have to continue to train because normally that would be the end of the season coming into October – football would stop for winter. We were all just amateurs. Nobody got paid a single penny for it, but it was interesting because it was the first time an Icelandic team progressed into the second round.”

On a rest day after the group stage at EURO 2020, focus briefly turned back to club football with the announcement that the away-goals rule had been binned. The arguments for scrapping it were well worn and the decision had been coming. Too much of an advantage to the away side; it made the home team in the first leg too cautious, fearful of conceding. And was there still a major disadvantage playing away anyway, in this era of seamless travel and pristine pitches?

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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