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Player profiles:
Heidar Helguson
Position: Striker. Yes, Luca.
From: Lillestrøm, Norway - £1.5m - January 2000
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: A loony. Most of the time.
Past profiles: June 2000


A recurring cartoon / comic book formula sees all-conquering superheroes emerging from nervous, timid alter-egos... witness Clark Kent as Superman, Peter Parker as Spiderman, and Penry the mild-mannered janitor as Hong Kong Phooey. It's conceptually appealing, the meek little guy shaking off his shackles and striking a blow for the downtrodden masses.

There's something of this in Heidar Helguson. A shy, nervous individual prone to cataclysmic collapses in confidence, the transformation to the rabid, pain-in-the-arse of a striker when his tail is up could hardly be more dramatic.

Heidar made a bold start to his Vicarage Road career, albeit not quite bold or early enough to threaten to salvage our Premiership season. His first full season gave us the good (some brutal, rampaging performances), the bad (a chronic loss of form that tied in with that of the side as a whole), and the ugly (a red card for a two-footed hack at John Curtis of Blackburn).

Helguson suffered more than many during Luca Vialli's season, inexplicably being employed, when at all, in midfield and even at wing-back... his complete lack of defensive awareness contributing to a crucial own goal at home to Manchester City. His desperate, isolated expression as the ball went in ranks amongst the lowest points of that season.

So when the Icelander made an injury-delayed start to 2002-03 in mid-September, it was good to see him back up front and with his hyperactive lunatic switch set to "on". Scoring in five of his first six starts, and leaving a trail of bruised and exhausted centrebacks in his wake, it was reassuring to be shown that what had gone down as one of Luca's most obvious errors really was as bad as advertised.

There are still criticisms, obviously... ever susceptible to swings in form, a bad day from Heidar is often characterised by either a life-threatening tackle or a patience-threatening tumble under challenge, and you'd still never put better-than-even odds on him in a one-on-one with the keeper. But in several respects Heidar has no peer at Vicarage Road... he attacks the ball in the air better than anyone we've had for years (bar Mooney, arguably), his predatory instincts mean that he's the man most likely to tumble on scraps, and he covers a monumental amount of ground in the course of ninety minutes.

Heidar Helguson. Number-one super guy? Could be.

Matt Rowson
Last updated: December 2002