'I'm open to anything, apart from British football' – Iceland's Arnason bids UK farewell


Arnason played in the Iceland side that reached the Euro 2016 quarter-finals

Iceland’s Kari Arnason says he cannot face any more time in British football because of its physical demands.

The 35-year-old defender is preparing for the World Cup as a free agent after finishing his second spell at Aberdeen.

He also spent time in England at Plymouth Argyle and Rotherham United.

“We’ll see what happens after the World Cup,” he told BBC Scotland. “I’m open to anything, apart from British football. I don’t think I’ve got another season in me there.”

Arnason spent time with Malmo in Sweden and played in Cyprus with Omonia Nicosia before returning to Pittodrie on a one-year contract last summer.

He made 24 appearances as the Dons finished runners-up in the Premiership for the fourth successive campaign.

Explaining his desire for a fresh challenge and an exit from the UK, the centre-half said: “It’s just the way football is played; they need to get with the times. They need to pass more and try to keep the ball.

“The teams I’ve played for, it’s been too hectic. It’s just launching the ball forward as far as you can and trying to head the ball as far as you can.

“You can be successful at that, but it takes a lot out of you. At 35, I’m ready for something else.”

Arnason, who also spent the 2011-12 season with the Dons, said: “I enjoyed my time with Aberdeen, but I didn’t really enjoy the style of football.

“We came second in the league, which was positive. I thought I made my contribution to the team and I’m happy with that.

“It is what it is and I played enough games to keep fit for the World Cup.”

‘Messi can make you look silly’

Iceland will need to work out a way of stopping Argentina captain Lionel Messi

Iceland will be making their World Cup debut after topping a qualifying section that included Croatia, Turkey and Ukraine.

In Russia, they will face Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria.

“Everyone in the group can steal points from anyone,” said Arnason. “It will go down to the wire to see who qualifies.”

Iceland, who reached the last eight at Euro 2016 – eliminating England on the way – open their World Cup against Argentina in Moscow on 16 June.

“It’s an interesting match-up, especially coming from the Scottish league where you play against Hamilton Accies, with all due respect to them,” said Arnason about the prospect of facing Argentine forward Lionel Messi.

“It’s a team effort. If you get singled out by him then just about any defender in the world knows how that is going to end up. He can make you look silly, like an absolute amateur.

“We just need to stay solid and see what happens. As a unit, we are very strong.

“At the Euros, we used a rigid 4-4-2. Now we are more adaptable and use a different set-up and different tactics for each individual game.

“It’s about how we defend, the way we counter-attack and use our strength at set-pieces.”

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