Women's Football

Gunnarsdottir the unstoppable

Fenna Kalma (L) and Suzanne Hendrina Maria Giesen (R) of FC Twente Enschede and Sara Bjoerk Gunnarsdottir (C) of VfL Wolfsburg battle for the ball.
© Getty Images
  • Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir has been Iceland’s Women’s Player of the Year six times
  • Her book 'Ostodvandi' (Unstoppable) was published in November 2019
  • "I had a story to tell that a lot of people could relate to"

There is no doubting that Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir is a gifted footballer. She has been voted Iceland’s Women’s Player of the Year six times, lifted four Swedish league titles with LdB FC Malmo (now known as FC Rosengard), and won the German league and cup double three times with VfL Wolfsburg.

Her path to get there, however, was a trying one and continually forced the 131-time Iceland international to overcome challenges. Gunnarsdottir tells her fascinating story in her book 'Ostodvandi' (Unstoppable), which was published in November last year.

"I was named as Iceland’s Sportsperson of the Year in 2018,” the midfielder told FIFA.com. “It’s one of the biggest honours you can receive as a sportsperson in Iceland. It’s for all sports, and women and men can win it. It was a really big honour.

"After that I got a message from Magnus Helgason, who wrote the book. He told me that it was the right time to tell my story. I’m not old, but I am experienced and have done a lot in my career. I’ve been through a lot as well. So I thought I had a story to tell that a lot of people, not only players, could relate to. That was the reason I wanted to share my story."

In her book, Gunnarsdottir describes how she went from being a small-town girl in Iceland to one of the best players in Germany. “For me it’s more about the struggles and setbacks that have made me who I am today,” the 29-year-old explained. “The character I am, how I play and how I am as a human. I had an injury for two years: a cruciate ligament rupture and a fractured thigh bone. Honestly, I didn’t think I would play football again.

"A lot [of the book] is about these setbacks, what I had to go through and how I got to the point where I am today. It also goes a bit into my personal life. I talk about anxiety in football, how the passion can affect you and how I handled it. At the end of the book I say that I’m really proud to be the person I am today because of my success, but mainly because of my setbacks and how I handled them."

Gunnarsdottir's words make it clear why she chose ‘Unstoppable’ as the title of her book: she was seemingly not going to let anybody or anything hold her back. Even as a young girl she always wanted to win, be it playing cards or football, and when other people thought she could not do something, it only spurred her on even more.

Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir of Iceland and Svenja Huth of Germany battle for the ball during the Iceland Women's and Germany Women's.
© Getty Images

"I was always in competition with myself,” she said. “I wanted to see how far I could get and to push myself. After my injuries my goal was to be pain free and to play again. A year after that I reached the U-17s, the U-19s and the senior national team all in the same year and I thought: ‘Wow, I could really set my goals high now.’

"When I was 20 I told the media that I wanted to become the best midfielder in the world. A lot of people probably just laughed at that. I’ve always had so much belief in myself and my mentality has brought me to where I am today."

That is to say, to Wolfsburg. She joined the Wolves in 2016 and is set to leave at the end of the season, but is eager for more silverware before her contract expires. With the Women’s Bundesliga campaign scheduled to resume on 29 May, she could well do so.

"It’s a nice relief that we can play again,” she said. “It will be very intense until the end of June, but we’ve been training a lot. We’ve started training as a team again and everybody is in top shape. We’re all professionals and we all did the work. I feel good, I feel ready – and that goes for my team-mates as well. I just miss being with the team in the locker room and taking the ball in my hands.

"This time has made me realise just how much I miss that, how much I miss playing. I felt like a kid in our first training session back together. I’m grateful that we can resume playing. Obviously I want to finish this year with Wolfsburg with some titles and to play some games. It was an exciting time with the league, the Cup and the Champions League. Now things have changed a little bit. Hopefully we can finish the league and the Cup. The goal is to finish my time at Wolfsburg with two titles this year. That would be awesome."

Given the title of her book, and her outlook on life, it is hard to imagine Gunnarsdottir not achieving her objectives.

Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir
© imago images

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