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Interview: Steinthór Freyr Thorsteinsson, Icelandic master of the flip throw-in

25 Feb 2012(Sat)

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni was able to use Friday night’s friendly with Iceland in Osaka as an opportunity to gently ease the likes of Chikashi Masuda, Junya Tanaka, and Naoya Kondo into the international arena. But in what was otherwise a somewhat eventless, straightforward 3-1 win for the hosts – played with a tempo and atmosphere quite befitting a pre-season game – it was a little-known midfielder named Steinthór Freyr Thorsteinsson who dramatically stole the morning headlines and the hearts of the 42,000-strong crowd.

The Icelandic number seven, who plays his club football with newly-promoted Norwegian Tippeligaen side Sandnes Ulf, entered the game as a substitute at the start of the second period and promptly wowed the Japanese public with a series of eight ‘flip throw-ins’.

Much to the amusement of his teammates, Thorsteinsson was the undoubted centre of attention at full time. Cesare Polenghi (Goal.com) and I caught up with him to find out more about his impressive party piece.

How long have you been taking flip throw-ins like that?
I first tried it in the under-17s. I’m 26 now, so I’ve been doing it for almost ten years.

Do you do it in every game?
Yeah, usually. But when it’s rainy weather then I don’t do it – I play in Norway and it rains a lot there. It was pretty slippery now, and I almost fell some of the times, so I was thinking about not doing it. You know, it’s not very fit to do it if you are going to injure yourself! But at least I had the confidence to do it so I did it. Usually I throw longer if I have more grip – I think the last one was really good but the other ones were only OK. At least the crowd was pleased, though!

You repeatedly attracted the biggest roars of the night – do fans always react like that?
Yeah, it was similar when we played against Mexico. I think there were 65,000 people watching, and every time I took the ball it was just crazy.

The noise would have been incredible if you had actually scored – and you nearly did.
With that last one, then I think we had guys in the box who thought it wouldn’t go that long, but then it went long. But usually, I can throw it to the back post. So in my former clubs, like when I played in Iceland, then I just aimed at the goal and the guys would just have to head it in. We scored a lot of goals out of them in Iceland.

Have you ever created a goal from a flip throw-in at international level?
Just when I was with the under-19s, we scored. Not with the ‘A’ team – we’ve gotten really close but not scored yet. I think, especially, if it had been hotter and I could have thrown longer then I think we could have created much more chances. That’s probably our advantage because we had the bigger players… well, not me (Thorsteinsson is 171cm/5’ 7”), but the other ones!

Perhaps you should come and play in the J. League – with tricks like that you could be a big star in Japan.
We will see! Maybe I will get a contract, I don’t know. Maybe more people in Japan will try to do it too!

Thorsteinsson’s antics clearly left an impression on his opponents too – Japan defender Tomoaki Makino was heard telling teammates, perhaps only half-jokingly, that he intends to start practising the technique tomorrow...

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