Born: 11 July 1974, Reykjavík, Iceland
Age in 2005: 31
Premier League Clubs: Crystal Palace (1997/98), Wimbledon (1999/2000), Ipswich Town (2000/2003), Charlton Athletic (2003/2007), Portsmouth (2007/2012)
“How am I supposed to read that? That’s not even a letter, it’s just some sort of little scribble,” cried commentator David Pleat (probably), on the day that Hermann Hreiðarsson joined Crystal Palace in August 1997. The scribble, of course, was once used in England and still is in Hermann’s home country of Iceland. (It’s generally translated as ‘d’, as in ‘d’ for David, alright Pleaty?)
In his debut campaign at Palace, Hreiðarsson’s arrival clearly had an effect as his new team achieved relegation in their very first season. Hermann, of course, was not really to blame for this, and in fact put in a string of excellent performances at the heart of defence. One notable highlight came against Chelsea, where he scored a goal that gave Venables’ side the lead for somewhere between four and five minutes.
(Above: 'The Nordic Nomad' evades an exhausted-looking Simeon Jackson)
Performances like this had not escaped the attention of other clubs and in the summer of 1998, third division side Brentford snapped up the big Icelander for £750,000. He was there for one season, about which you will thank me for writing absolutely nothing.
Being demonstrably too good for the third tier, Hreiðarsson’s return to Premier League football was swift. Wimbledon signed him during October 1999 and he made 25 appearances in their unsuccessful bid for survival. Another Premier League season had ended in relegation for Hermann and once more it was time for ‘The Nordic Nomad’ to move on.
Good things come to those who wait, though, and Hreiðarsson’s Premier League toils were soon to be vindicated. After yet another move, this time to Ipswich Town who spent £4.5m on bringing him to Portman Road, his new team reached an unprecedented fifth in the table and Hermann was a regular starter in their back four. This success continued when in their following campaign, Ipswich were awarded the UEFA Fair Play award. As a side note to the success, they were also relegated.
(Above: Rising above fellow Premier League greats Shola Ameobi and Jean-Alain Boumsong)
But Hreiðarsson is perhaps best remembered for his time at Charlton, during which there was not a single kid in school who didn’t have about seven ‘Shoot-Out’ cards with his face on. He spent three excellent seasons there, and in 2009 was even pictured wearing a very nice bow tie indeed.
Almost unbelievably by this point, Charlton too were eventually relegated. But this time, Hermann was prepared. He had cleverly included a clause in his contract allowing him to leave on a free if the side went down. Reports from the Charlton press room back in 2003 suggest that as his pen hit the paper, he could be heard whispering under his breath, “Not this time, not this effing time.”
He enjoyed great success at his next club Portsmouth, bringing a calm head and also the rest of his body to what had previously been a shaky defence. Having become something of a leader in the dressing room, he would also step in as captain whenever David James was busy making rubbish art.
(Above: 'Hermann the Non German' takes flight after realising he's in another relegation battle)
However, due to a devastating achilles injury, Hreiðarsson was not able to play in Portsmouth’s successful 2010 FA Cup final. He had, though, already achieved his fifth career relegation earlier in the season.
Fans of the Premier League have not forgotten Hermann Hreiðarsson’s name and although he did get relegated on an incredible number of occasions, ‘The Herminator’ was an imposing and commanding presence everywhere he went. In 2011, he made his 500th English League appearance against Barnsley and in doing so cemented his unarguable status as a Premier League classic.
Where is he now?
In a bid to produce further Premier League legends, Hermann married a professional footballer and had two children. Being a pro player herself, his wife chose not to take his name, so in 2025 listen out for fans singing ‘There’s only one Stefánsdóttir-Hreiðarsson’ from the stands.
What did he say?
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