JOEY Gudjonsson still hasn’t got used to the prospect of seeing Iceland play at a World Cup.

A little over two weeks out from their first ever World Cup game, against Argentina in Moscow, the former Burnley and Iceland midfielder, now in his first managerial role back in his homeland, can’t help but let out a laugh every time he tries to contemplate it.

“Everybody is so excited to see Iceland play at the World Cup. It’s still strange to say it now,” Gudjonsson told the Burnley Star.

It might sound strange, but it is true. On Saturday, June 16, Iceland will step onto the world stage for the first time.

During his 34-cap international career - four of which came in his three-and-a-half years at Turf Moor - it was a prospect that Gudjonsson couldn’t even dream about.

But he will be in Moscow to see Iceland’s first World Cup game. His brother, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, is part of the squad as is the Icelander who has followed in Gudjonsson’s footsteps at Turf Moor, Johann Berg Gudmundsson.

“He’s taken with him what the Icelandic team is all about, it’s all about hard work, hard graft, working for the team, the team comes first, he does that,” Gudjonsson said of the Turf’s new Ice man.

“He puts in a lot of effort to help the team but he’s a quality player as well, he can set up goals and he can score goals.

“He’s a great player and he’s had a fantastic season.

“It’s really special to see another Icelandic player playing at Burnley. It’s a bit special for me to keep that connection.”

Gudmundsson scored goals in both of Iceland’s crucial qualifying wins last October against Kosovo and Turkey to secure their place in Russia.

“It’s still like a dream. It still feels like it’s not really going to happen,” Gudjonsson added. “But we’re getting closer to it, we’re getting closer to the opening game against Argentina, which is going to be absolutely amazing.

“A few years back qualifying for the Euros was an amazing achievement, but this is miles, miles bigger. It’s a great occasion for the whole nation.

“We never imagined this (when I was playing). There were opportunities where you were close but it never really felt like it was going to happen.

“When I was growing up as a young kid and dreaming of being a professional I never imagined Iceland would be at a World Cup.

“It gives a lot to a small country like Iceland, hopefully that encourages younger kids to dream even bigger and we’ll achieve bigger things.”

Gudjonsson expects Iceland to be ‘hard to beat’ in Russia and is hoping the dream continues and that they can qualify from a group that includes Nigeria and Croatia, as well as Lionel Messi and co.

Now 37, Gudjonsson is enjoying his first managerial position with hometown club IA Akranes, who he is trying to guide back to the top flight.

The Icelandic domestic season is underway and will be going on during the World Cup, but the former Iceland international will be able to make the first game, and his family connections to the national team run deep.

“My (half) brother is also playing in the team, we’ve got the same mum and we grew up together, so that will be a special occasion,” Gudjonsson said. “My mum has four boys who all played professionally and we all played for Iceland.”

After leaving Turf Moor, Gudjonsson spent a couple of years at Huddersfield Town before heading home in 2012 to see out his career in Iceland, hanging up his boots in 2016.

But it’s his time at Burnley, particularly the promotion campaign of 2008/09, that he believes were the best days of a playing career that took in Iceland, Belgium, Holland, Spain and England.

“I had a great time there, it’s fond memories. I can proudly say they’re probably the best years of my career, I really enjoyed it,” he said.

“It was a great squad, we had a small squad and we didn’t use that many players, but everyone played a big part in that season and the spirit was amazing.

“The squad was brilliant and we really enjoyed playing together and spending time together.”

Gudjonsson celebrated his birthday on the day the Clarets won the play-off final at Wembley against Sheffield United, coming off the bench in the first half to replace the injured Chris McCann.

“I came on quite early and to end up winning and getting promoted on my birthday was really special,” he said.

“A lot of my family and friends came over from Iceland that day, it was a big occasion.”

Unfortunately for Gudjonsson, the Premier League season would be bittersweet, with the departure of Owen Coyle and the arrival of Brian Laws the beginning of the end of his Clarets career.

“I was really disappointed when Owen Coyle decided to go to Bolton. A new manager came in and we really didn’t see things eye to eye,” he said.

“When the new manager came in that was the end of it for me personally.

“With a new manager he wanted to change things, from the start I felt that I didn’t feature in his plans and I was a bit upset about it at the time.

“That was basically the end of my Burnley career. I would have loved to have stayed there longer but with the manager that came in it didn’t really work out.”

Now Gudjonsson himself has been bitten by the managerial bug.

“It was always something I wanted to try out. I always wanted to see if I could become a manager and how well I’d do,” he said.

“I’m really enjoying it, you learn a lot when you take your first job. When players have had a long career you think you know it all when you become a manager, but there’s a lot to learn in the first couple of years. I’ve learnt a lot, I’ve developed my style of play and what I want from my players.

“The aim is to get promotion, we want to be in the top division. It’s a big club, a big history for a club from a small town in Iceland. The history has shown in the past that we’ve had a lot of international players and a lot of professional players have come from Akranes.

“We want to be playing among the best in Iceland.”

While the club aim to be back among the best in Iceland next year, within the next few weeks Iceland’s best will be competing with the world’s best, and when Gudmundsson walks out alongside Messi in Moscow it will all seem very real.