[FEATURE] Icelanders Petur Sigurdsson, Jon Jonsson and Hrafn Davidsson follow in a long tradition of foreign players who have helped make Boston University a national men's power for more than a quarter century.
All three players have been key contributors on the Terriers, who extended their unbeaten streak to six games with a 1-1 tie with Hartford on Wednesday, and they brought with them their fun-loving ways from Reykjavik's music scene.
What's not to love about a group of guys whose musical taste ranges from Johnny Cash to
xxx Rottweilerhundar, an Icelandic rap band?
They can play a little soccer also. Sigurdsson scored for Icelandic club IBV in the UEFA Cup shortly before enrolling at BU in 2005. Davidsson, a goalie, and Sigurdsson have been recently sidelined with injuries, but Jonsson has been a stalwart on the Terrier defense, which has been limiting opponents to an average of 0.96 goals a game.
INTERNATIONAL CAMPUS. BU has a longstanding tradition of welcoming foreign students -- its current student body includes students from more than 100 countries -- and foreign players have had great success at BU.
Terrier greats include NigeriansMichael Emenalo(who played for Nigeria in the 1994 World Cup and was recently named an assistant coach and chief scout at Chelsea) and Ben and Francis Okaroh (both All-Americans in 1986), Venezuelan internationalCheche Vidal (later a pioneer in web hosting for international organizations like FIFA, CONCACAF and CONMEBOL) and WelshmanAndy Dorman(17 goals in four seasons with MLS's New England Revolution).
Davidsson and Sigurdsson, both former members of Iceland's under-21 national team, came for the education, and Jonsson followed his buddy, Sigurdsson.
"I wanted a good education and I also wanted to learn the language better," said Sigurdsson. "Getting a scholarship to play soccer was the only way for me to have afford the school."
'STRANGE RULES.'BU's three Icelanders have had a hard time comprehending college soccer's rules.
"In college soccer, the coach can change players in and out of the field as much as he wants," said Davidsson. "In Iceland, we play by the same rules as they do in Europe and we can't change more than three players every game."
Sigurdsson is baffled by what he describes as "all the strange rules" -- overtime, the clock running out exactly to the second, endless substitutions.
Jonsson has discovered that the college game is more intense than Icelandic soccer.
"We tend to practice a lot of movements and runs that we are supposed to do before games," he said. "That sometimes makes me feel more systematic and not as free. Here you have four coaches yelling at you if you make mistakes while back home it is more relaxed."
Sigurdsson says the level of play is slightly below that which he experienced back home.
"But the talent is good here," he adds. "Only thing is that guys here haven't developed fully like in Iceland, where there is a real league with guys who are of all ages."
Sill, Sigurdsson believes the USA would beat Iceland in a full international.
MUSICAL OMNIVORE.What's been the biggest adjustment BU's Icelanders have had to make?
"Probably the language," Jonsson says. "I like talking, so I hate when I can't find the word and that ruins my joke or my story. Other than that, I like living the campus life. I like the fact that 90 percent of the people walking by are my age and I have become friends with a lot of them, so saying 'Hi!' on the streets is more common now."
Sigurdsson's biggest adjustment? "Trying to not eat all the good things that you have here."
The Icelanders share a love of music.
Davidsson describes himself as an "omnivore when it comes to music" with a taste for Curtis Mayfield, Johnny Cash, Common, Roy Ayers and Coldplay.
"Since I like to play the guitar and sing," says Jonsson, "I like guys that do that. I like John Mayer, Jack Johnson and Ben Harper. I am also a big Coldplay fan."
Sigurdsson's favorites are more unusual. They include xxx Rottweilerhundar, an Icelandic rap band.
"There is a guy named Big Papa Pets who is pretty fresh," he adds.
THE LAUGARVEGUR. BU's Icelanders also love Reykjavik, known as one of the world's great party towns.
Partygoers descend upon the Laugarvegur, where clubs are packed until closing time at 6 am.
"After the bars close," Davidsson says, "there are still some places open to get something to eat, and most people do that to."
Why makes Reykjavik the king of the clubs?
"Happy people that are willing to make the night fun," says Jonsson, "not only for themselves but also the people around."
But Sigurdsson cautions that things aren't the same in Reykjavik these days.
"It's not a party city anymore," he says, "since the kings of the clubs are now playing for BU!"