Kolbeinn Sigþórsson 22 Striker Ajax
We really hope that Kolbeinn Sigþórsson has used up all his bad luck already because if he hasn’t, we’re afraid he’ll never make it at the highest level, and that would be a real loss.
Strong, powerful, good with both feet, an instinctive finisher, great in the air, snap-sharp control – you throw the ‘decent striker’ clichés at him and he’s got the lot. He’s a hard working, never give the defenders a minute’s peace type centre-forward, imposing physically, good on the ball and never afraid to chase the lost cause. Right from his debut he has been marked for a special future, so why are we so worried?
Starting where you always should, let’s go back to the beginning. As a young player in Iceland he caused quite a stir before kicking a first team ball, scouts across Europe were made aware the next big thing was coming. After making only 5 first team appearances for HK Kópavogur (scoring once in the process) he was being linked with everyone from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid. After an alleged two-week trial at Arsenal and genuine interest from some of the really big boys of European football, he rather sensibly opted for somewhere that would give him first team action and time to grow – AZ Alkmaar of the Eredivisie.
Five appearances hadn’t been enough to establish an identity but a full season in Holland would. He scored 18 times in 38 appearances, 15 coming in the league including an incredible game against VVV Venlo where he scored five in a 6-1 win to really announce himself. Of those five goals two came with his left, one with his head, two with his right, a perfect hat-trick with added symmetry if you will.
Ajax had seen enough and at the season’s close set about bringing their man in. They were fighting with PSV and Twente on the home front for his signature, Dortmund (again), several Premier League clubs including Arsenal (again), and AZ’s own vastly improved contract if he decided to stay. It was at this point thinks turned a bit nasty.
A protracted transfer to Ajax eventually forced itself through but not before he had publically been forced to state his desire to move, watched Ajax nearly walk away from the deal, endured criticism from AZ officials in the press and watched his employers try to use other club’s interest (including those moneybags at Manchester City allegedly) to continue to raise the his price. Eventually Ajax paid a reported €4m for his services, double their first offer, and a very relieved man got the move he described as ‘a dream’.
Just like his motives for joining AZ, his stated reasons for deciding Ajax were the only club that interested him were startlingly sensible again. Despite more money being offered by others he felt he wasn’t ready to move away from the relative safety of the Eredivisie, but still wanted to play every week and experience Champions League football. In the same press conference he then instantly won points with the club’s fans by talking about his love of the legends that had played there and in particular his excitement at working with one of his heroes, Dennis Bergkamp.
So after a bumpy transfer saga all was set fair for progress and excitement, but this is when the bad luck really began.
He started brightly but after 10 appearances and 5 goals he was forced off in a game against Groningen in October 2011, having picked up an ankle knock that was expected to keep him out for a couple of weeks. Initial scans proved wrong and a stress-fracture was detected, a comeback date of mid-January was confidently forecast.
In reality he wouldn’t play again until April as it transpired the injury had been there for some time, along with a groin problem that had caused him to have painkilling injections before some of Ajax’s early season games. Having played a lot of football for AZ the previous season, the summer of 2011 had been spent at the European U21 Championships with Iceland before launching into his Ajax career. While we all know injures happen, it’s almost impossible not to lean towards the fact he was simply playing too much football at the earliest part of a hopefully long career.
So after the high of joining Ajax came a long spell on the sidelines and despite a comeback at the season’s end where he managed 6 substitute appearances - scoring another 2 goals it should be noted - the best thing for all parties was a close season spent losing some weight (he returned a little on the Wayne Rooney side of ‘well-built) and getting sharp again. Everyone assured him he was still Ajax’s number 9 and that this would be his year to prove it.
After his first start and full 90 minutes in 2012 and a cathartic goal against AZ in August, things looked like they were about to start progressing again. Training the following week he suffered a collision that left him with a horribly dislocated shoulder that needed surgery to repair, and another large part of his season was to be spent on the treatment table. A crying shame for a player with real promise and a huge personal disappointment to come back from.
We know he makes sensible decisions and Ajax know he’s a great player beset with bad luck since joining them. As well as his domestic career he has taken to international football in excellent fashion, already scoring 8 times for the full Icelandic side and believe us when we say again, this is an excellent player. We really hope the bad luck has gone and we really hope he’s going to return 100% fit and raring to go. If he’s mentally strong enough to get over what looks like becoming a wretched near-as-damn-it two years by the time he’s fully fit again, expect great things.
"Sometimes you hear of an injury that just makes your heart sink, even if it's not a player from your team. I really felt for Sigþórsson, he was beginning to look like a really useful forward and it would be quite easy to imagine dicussing a player that had smacked in 40 goals over the last year." - Jeff Livingstone (IBWM)
E It has to be an E having made only seven appearances in the year and playing less than 180 minutes of football in total. We still believe, let’s hope he does