They Played for Both Clubs: Heidar Helguson

Ian Walton

Chris takes a look back at an ex-Wanderer who also played for Watford

Bolton Wanderers welcome Watford to the Reebok Stadium this weekend in yet another 'must-win' game for beleaguered manager Dougie Freedman as he tries to drag his underperforming side away from the Championship relegation zone.

Casting my mind back to former Watford / Wanderers players, I settled upon the Icelandic striker Heidar Helguson. Born in August 1977 in the town of Dalvík in Iceland, Helguson joined his first club, his hometown side UMFS Dalvík, at the age of eight. He would go on to spend his formative years in the club's development squads, progressing through the different youth team age brackets before making his debut for their reserves whilst he was still only 13.

He was then handed his first team debut in 1993 when he was just 15 years old. He went on to score five goals in 11 league appearances before his performances earned him a transfer to Þróttur in 1994, aged 16. In three seasons at Þróttur, Helguson scored 31 goals in 54 league appearances which led him to be linked to teams from overseas including Newcastle United and German side 1. FC Kaiserslautern.

Instead he moved to Lillestrøm in the autumn of 1998, making his first team debut in October of that year. In his single season at the club he scored a league-leading 18 goals, which prompted former England manager Graham Taylormid-way through the 1999-2000 season for a club record £1.5m.

Brought in to boost the struggling club's striking department, Helguson made a scoring debut at Vicarage Road against Liverpool, and finished the season with six goals. However this was not enough to keep Watford up, and the club was relegated after only one season in the Premier League.

Back in the First Division, he was an integral part of a Watford side that was undefeated for the first 15 games of the season, topping the league. However, when the side's form slumped in late 2000, Helguson suffered a crisis of confidence - one of several during his first few years at Watford - and was well below his best for a large amount of that campaign. As evidence of this he only scored 16 goals over two seasons.

At the end of the season Taylor retired and was replaced by former Juventus striker and Chelsea player/manager Gianluca Vialli, who used Helguson as a wing back. With Ray Lewington in charge for the 2002-03 season, Helguson showed a marked improvement. Although still prone to injury (he did not start the season until late September), he finished the season Watford's top goal scorer with 13, including goals in Watford's run to the FA Cup Semi-Finals.

2004-05 was Helguson's best season in a Watford shirt - he top-scored with 20 league goals and picked up the "Goal of the Season," "Display of the Season" and "Player of the Season". Inevitably, his goal tally brought about interest from Premier League clubs and with Watford needing money, the offer from Fulham was accepted.Helguson left Watford and signed for Fulham in June 2005, scoring his first goal for the club in the 5-4 League Cup victory over Lincoln, and soon formed a strong partnership with American striker Brian McBride.

After two seasons at the club he left to join Bolton Wanderers, having scored 14 goals in 63 appearances for Fulham. On 20 July 2007 it was announced that Helguson had signed for fellow Premier League side Bolton Wanderers for £2m as part of new manager Sammy Lee's squad restructuring.

He made his Bolton debut as a substitute for injured captain Kevin Davies in August 2007 with Wanderers against Newcastle United. Four days later he returned to Fulham for the first time since leaving and got on the scoresheet in a 2-1 Bolton defeat.

He struggled for first team football, despite Wanderers selling main striker Nicolas Anelka to Chelsea for £15m in January of that year. It was the end of January 2008 by the time Heiðar got any more playing time, but his return was welcome with Bolton desperately short of firepower having sold Nicolas Anelka to Chelsea earlier on that month.

At the start of the 2008/09 season he was loaned to Queens Park Rangers until the end of January. In January 2009, the deal was made permanent for an undisclosed fee. However, the move didn't work out and after spending the 2009/10 season out on loan back at Watford, he returned to QPR. He soon regained his place in the side, scoring 13 goals as Rangers won the Championship in the 2010/11 season.

He went on to feature regularly under Neil Warnock for QPR in the Premier League, despite missing most of the second half of the season with a groin injury. He went on to finish as QPR's top goalscorer for the 2011/2012 season with 9 goals in all competitions. These goals proved crucial at Rangers avoided relegation on the final day of the season despite a 3-2 defeat away to Champions Manchester City.

In August 2012, Helguson was again on the move, and this time signed for Championship outfit Cardiff City on a one year deal. Despite helping Cardiff secure promotion to the Premier League, Helguson left the club when his contract expired at the end of the season having scored eight goals in 38 appearances for the club.

A full Icelandic international, Helguson made his debut for the national side in an April 1999 friendly against Malta, coming on as a substitute for Ríkharður Daðason.

After playing in a friendly against Spain in August 2006, a long spell outside the national team followed during which Helguson announced his retirement from international football, in June 2007.

In August 2008, Helguson announced his return to international football and was immediately selected in the Icelandic team to face Norway and Scotland a few days later. He scored a goal against Norway in the World Cup Qualifier as the match ended 2-2.

He finished his international career in 2011 having scored 12 goals in 55 games, joint seventh on the all-time list with Tryggvi Guðmundsson. Top scorer for the national side is former Bolton striker Eidur Gudjohnsen.

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