Aron Jóhannsson was born in Alabama, grew up in Iceland, and vacationed each year to Florida. He may have spent most of his childhood jumping back and forth between countries, but it clearly didn’t affect his game. Even though he’s only 23, Aron is a critical player for the US this summer in Brazil.
Read on for more about Johannsson and follow along here as the U.S. takes on Ghana.
1. He Was Born in Alabama but Spent Most of His Life In Iceland
Jóhannsson was born in Mobile, Alabama, and spent most of his life in Iceland. He was a constantly energetic kid, and was always kicking a soccer ball around the house. He tells US Soccer,
They would give me a ball and I would just play for hours and hours. When I was around 8 years old – I can’t remember exactly – but it was then I told my dad that I was going to be a professional football player.
When Jóhannsson was 17, he chose to go to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where he was able to focus on playing soccer and studying. After some time at IMG, Johannsson received offers to stay in the US and play soccer in college, but decided to go back to Iceland, where he could play for his Icelandic club. In 2010, he moved to Denmark to start his professional career.
2. When He was 8, He Told His Dad He Was Going to be a Professional Soccer Player
Arrived safely in Natal, can’t wait until Monday #USAvGHA
— Aron Jóhannsson (@aronjo20) June 13, 2014
Since Aron was born in the U.S., he has always been eligible to play for the U.S. national team. Two months after US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said that he was interested in Jóhannsson, the young player posted on his Faebook page that he would make himself eligible to play for the USA National football team, and he wished Iceland well. FIFA approved Jóhannsson’s switch from Iceland to the US team on August 13, 2013.
In an interview with U.S. Soccer, Jóhannsson recalls how he was always playing with a soccer ball and always moving. He remembers telling his dad when he was 8 that he was going to go pro.
When asked how the process of deciding to play for the U.S. was like, Jóhannsson said:
It took a little while. I talked to my family about it and it’s just a personal decision for me, and I feel it’s best for me and my family.
His parents were fully supportive of the decision.
3. U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann Had His Eyes on Johannsson For A Long Time
The Alabama native was born to Icelandic parents, and moved to Iceland at age 3. As a child and teenager, Jóhannsson spent most of his time in Iceland, but sporadically moved to the US. He graduated in 2008 from The Pendelton High School in Florida.
Iceland was where Johannsson started his soccer career. He made his debut in 2008 for Fjölnir. He made 37 appearances for the team, and scored 13 goals. His last season with Fjölnir came in 2010 at age 20, when he was voted the best player and most promising player of the first division.
Since Jóhannsson was born in the US, he is eligible to play for the US National team, and in May of last year, Coach Jurgen Klinsmann admitted he was keeping a very close eye on Aron.
4. A Groin Injury Kept Him From Playing for Iceland in World Cup Qualifiers
Johannsson’s second season with Fjölnir was very successful, and he received a lot of attention from international teams at the time. The young player decided to move to AGF Aarhus in 2010, at age 20. He was chosen to start as striker after performing extremely well in a match against Viborg FF that April.
Johannsson’s series of performances in the Danish Superliga in 2012 led to him being called to play with the Iceland squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Switzerland and Albania. His groin was injured just before he needed to travel, though, and Johannsson wasn’t able to show up for the qualifiers.
5. He’s Always Told He Looks Like Kevin Bacon
It’s true– he certainly does. When US Soccer asked him if he looks like Kevin Bacon, the soccer star says he’s heard it a few times.
The first time was when I was in Denmark. A reporter came to me and said, ‘You look a lot like Kevin Bacon.’ And from then, the nickname Aron Bacon stuck. Maybe because it’s my dance skills, I don’t know [laughs].