After a long injury, Kolbeinn Sigthórsson returned to Ajax’s squad for the first time on Thursday. As strong as a bear, and hungry as a lion. Even when his strength had ebbed away, the centre forward was determined to remain on the field against Steaua. Only one thing was on his mind: scoring.
Was he tired in the second half against Steaua? Kolbeinn Sigthórsson grins. Who did the reporter hear this from, he asks. The answer is no secret: from his coach. He said, after the Europa League match had finished, that he should have swapped his centre forward out earlier. Although the Icelander was spent about twenty –five minutes before the end, he told Frank de Boer that he still had enough energy. “I still wanted to score”, says Sigthórsson, who played for 83 minutes. “But in the end it was better to let someone else play. My muscles were empty. I was no longer sharp enough to decide the match. Although I still very much wanted to.”
Almost everything that the centre forward says is accompanied with a smile. There’s no player on the first team right now who is as happy as Kolbeinn Sigthórsson. A few months ago, he was down on his luck and sidelined for a second long stint due to injury. Now, he’s as fit as a fiddle. “I feel very good”, he says the day after the 2-0 win against Steaua. “It was a very long time ago that I last played that many minutes. And it’s a good sign that I’m not feeling any negative effects afterwards.”
Unlike most of his fellow players, who went through a relaxed training in the hall, Sigthórsson remained inside – most likely without even breaking a sweating. “Cycling, stretching, getting a massage; that kind of thing. Very relaxing. That was very nice after such a great evening. My first time back on the squad, and a direct win. That’s great.”
Although he didn’t score against the Romanian top club, he did come close to a goal several times. For example, when he freed himself from his opponent like a wrestler and shot in an attempt at the 1-0 goal. Unfortunately, his attempt was blocked. “It was a good move, whereby I freed myself by throwing my backside into it. But I shot too soon. I thought that I needed to shoot after my pivot, but the keeper hadn’t come out at all. After I’ve played a few more full matches, a shot like that will go in.”
Although Sigthórsson has been sidelined for months, he made an iron-strong impression. His posture is a kick-boxer’s, fit and powerful. “I’ve been spending a lot of time in the weight room”, he says. “Whenever I start to train, I get big very fast. I’ve always been like that. But I don’t like it. I simply have to do it. It’s very important for a centre forward to be strong. But the more matches I play, the less I’ll have to be in the weight room.”
Also noteworthy from the Steaua match: the cold-blooded way in which he found the goal after a one-two with Siem de Jong. The goal was disqualified (offside), but it was a sign that the Icelander can still rely on his radar instinct. “It’s still there”, he says. Otherwise put, it doesn’t disappear, just like Johan Cruijff still has razor sharp playing insight decades later. Sightórsson: “I’ve been scoring since I was young. I can’t remember many games in which I didn’t score. You don’t forget how to do something like that. You can’t be afraid that you suddenly won’t be able to do it anymore. If you have doubts, something’s not right. You should just be thinking: I can do it.”
There are forwards he admires. Such as Robin van Persie, and former Ajax player Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. “True centre forwards. Super effective. They know precisely where they need to be at which moment. And they’re always controlled. That’s amazing.”
Does he ever compare himself with his legendary countryman, Eidur Gudjohnsen, who played for Chelsea and Barcelona, among others? “No, he wasn’t a true centre forward”, says Sigthórsson. “He played that position sometimes with Chelsea, but he’s more of a technical and creative attacking midfielder, just like Viktor Fischer with us. My technique isn’t as high-level. I’m just a pure finisher. That’s what I’m good at.”
Finally: will he be on the squad for Sunday’s match against RKC? “I don’t know yet. That’s up to the coach.” What he wants speaks for itself: to play. As much as possible.