An Inspiring Story About A ‘Football Manager’ Player Who Got Hired By A Real Football Club In Iceland

6 Min Read

A dedicated player who has played Football Manager for over 13,700 hours has been appointed as the new head coach of a fallen football giant in Iceland.

In the upcoming months, Reykjavik native Orri Thorisson will assume leadership of fourth-tier team Knattspyrnufelag Vesturbaejar, as they attempt to recover from two straight relegations.

At their home games at Vesturbær’s KV-Park stadium, KV, who presently record an average attendance of about 400, have been known to draw crowds of over 2,000 spectators.

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And Orri is desperate to return them to their rightful place as they celebrate their 20th anniversary. He told SPORTbible, “My dream is to achieve promotion this season and make my family proud,” 

“I want to help my players gain more confidence and more joy from playing this beautiful game.”

The 27-year-old has little experience in real-world management and works full-time in the masonry and tile-laying industries.

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Although he played Football Manager for the most of his coaching experience before taking on this position, the nearly 571 days of virtual coaching have taught him invaluable lessons that he can apply outside of the laptop.

“I genuinely believe it’s had a positive impact on my real-life management abilities,” Orri says.

“The game’s intricate mechanics, strategic decision-making and pressure-filled scenarios have allowed me to hone my analytical thinking and problem-solving skills.”

After former FC Utrecht and Lillestrom midfielder Viktor Bjarki Arnarsson left, Orri assumed first-team responsibilities. He estimates that he has played FM for about 8% of his waking hours.

In addition to his record of 84 losses in 833 games, he most recently won six straight Premier League titles with Leicester City. He also has over 600 hours of play time to his credit.

Orri is still being prepared for life on the sidelines by the game, but it has also provided solace during trying moments.

“Football Manager has been a therapeutic escape during harder periods in my life,” he says. “I find solace and distraction from playing the game and it allows my mind to momentarily detach from real-world struggles.

“The strategic challenge definitely provides a welcome respite, offering a sense of control and achievement. I know it sounds bad but when I’m doing good in the game, I feel like I’m doing good in life.”

Orri continued: “For me, it’s the thrill of leading your favourite team to victory and the satisfaction of nurturing young talents.

“I have a genuine love and enthusiasm for the dynamic and strategic aspects of FM; whether that be navigating through transfer windows or handling press conferences. Oh, and the 4-2-3-1 formation I’ve used throughout my entire FM career? I’ll definitely play a form of that tactic in real life.”

The native of Reykjavik has already dabbled in the field of real-life management.

Orri felt that he had “lost something in my life” after retiring from competitive basketball last year due to hip surgery, so in the summer he approached some friends who run 5. division side Kría whether he could take over as head coach.

It proved to be a really wise decision. “After winning 13 games out of 16, we got promoted to the 4. division,” he said. “Then, at the end of the season, KV called to express an interest in making me their new manager.

“A few meetings later and I signed a one-year contract. I took the job knowing it could be a really good stepping stone in my career, and to have some extra income to provide for my family, including my pregnant girlfriend, is huge.”

Orri’s pals refer to him as “the Icelandic Will Still” because he hasn’t finished any coaching badges, but Knattspyrnufelag Vesturbaejar, his new team, is certain of his abilities.

The chairman of KV, Auðunn Örn Gylfason, was all praise for the novice Thorisson.

“We wanted to take a different route in appointing a manager this time around,” he told SPORTbible. “Orri is a young, promising lad who not only has huge ambitions with our club, but a different experience and background from other candidates.

“We know success in Football Manager doesn’t just happen with the swing of a magic wand. You need to have a deep understanding of the game and now time will tell if he can meet up to our expectations in real life.”

Orri is certainly excited about the future. “So far, the management of the club has been unreal. The board and everyone around the club are so supportive and try to help me in any way they can.

“I can’t wait for the season to start in May and I hope to see any Football Manager fanatics who might be travelling to Iceland this summer to come and watch us play.”

On May 4, Knattspyrnufelag Vesturbaejar will play Iþrottafelag Hafnarfjardar in the league opener.

By Shyam
Shyam Sharma who joined SPORTS BIG NEWS in 2021. Focuses on soccer – chiefly the Premier League, LaLiga, UEFA Champions League, Liga MX and MLS. On occasion, also covers American sports, general news and entertainment. Fascinated by the language of sport – particularly the under-appreciated art of translating cliché-speak.