Technical Director used to play for the Dutch giantsGretar Steinsson is relishing today’s friendly against Dutch giants AZ Alkmaar.
The Cod Army face the top-flight side (kick-off 1pm GMT) in their second tour game early this afternoon, and it’s a club close to the heart of Town's Technical Director Steinsson, who enjoyed success there as a player before moving to Bolton in 2008.
And Steinsson, who have traveled to Holland alongside Chairman Andy Pilley for the game, thinks today is a great chance for Fleetwood to test themselves against a top European side.
“It is fantastic for Fleetwood Town to play against such a big club, and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
“To come up against such great players, and with Liverpool showing the respect to bring all of their available players that they had, the same for AZ, which is a club that can pick and choose from their opponents, and willing to play us is a great honour for the club.
“We have come from far, but we are doing really well, we are progressing and becoming bigger, and this is just a sign of where we want to go.”
Having left his native Iceland to sign for Swiss side Young Boys in 2004, Steinsson moved to AZ in January 2006, and he would go onto make 61 appearances for a successful Alkmaarteam in the Eredivisie division.
His stay at Alkmaar also saw him represent the club in European competitions, as he was part of the side that competed in the UEFA Cup in the 2006/07 campaign – reaching the Quarter-Final that season.
Steinsson was also part of the squad who finished runners-up to Ajax in the KNVB Cup in 2007.
He added: “It is a great club, it has risen really quickly from the time I was there. When I joined they were competing in European football, in recent years they’ve played Champions League football year in year out, and their academy is one of the best in Europe, over the last two-years it has been the best academy in Holland, full of home-grown players.
“They are a small club compared to Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord, but they are the fourth biggest club. They have just built a new training facility for North Holland, so they are a club that is really progressing, and are becoming a force in Europe, but it has taken time, over 10-15 years to build it up.
“They had a really good backer back in the day, similar to what we have, they decided to do it in a sustainable way, like we have, progressing youth through the academy, play and develop young players, they have just sold Vincent Janssen for around £20m, a player they got from the league below.
“They recruit players from the league below with potential talent to play at a higher level. They have been doing that over the last few years, and done great business over the past ten years, and that’s what made the club it is today.
“We can learn a lot from AZ, especially with the academy, now we have a category three academy, we are recruiting locally, same as AZ Alkmaar do, so there is a lot to learn, and hopefully we can take some knowledge back and apply it here at Fleetwood."