READING FC striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson has described Iceland’s World Cup involvement as ‘unreal’ and ‘surreal’.

The World Cup kicks off in Russia later today when the hosts take on Saudi Arabia (Thursday, 4pm ko, BST).

Iceland’s historic World Cup debut begins against Lionel Messi’s Argentina this Saturday before further Group D fixtures against Nigeria and Croatia.

“I can’t wait,” said Bodvarsson, who finished as Royals’ top scorer last season with 10 goals. “It’s been a journey with the national team and to actually be playing on as big a stage as the World Cup is unreal.

“It’s a bit surreal really. As a kid I played in this little town called Selfoss and just enjoyed life, imagining things that you’d be in a World Cup tournament or the Euros.

“To be there is a bit surreal, but it’ll be a fantastic experience and hopefully we’ll do something good.”

Iceland will be competing in the World Cup for the first time and they warmed up for the tournament with a 3-2 defeat to Norway and 2-2 draw with Ghana in the past week.

Bodvarsson, 26, started the game against Norway when ex-Royal Gylfi Sigurdsson was among the Iceland goalscorers, and he also came off the bench in the second half against Ghana.

Reading Chronicle:

Royals will net almost £60,000 from former midfielder Paolo Hurtado's participation in the World Cup with Peru. 

But the ex-Wolves hitman admits Iceland have their work cut out to reach the World Cup knockout stages.

“We have quite a tough group to be fair,” he added. “It’ll be a tough task for the team but you want to play those games.

“It’ll be a good experience and hopefully we’ll do better than the Euros. We’ve mainly played against European teams so to play against different continents is exciting.

“The country just can’t wait, there’s very big excitement in the air and everybody’s looking forward to it. A lot of people are also travelling so there’s World Cup fever in Iceland right now.”

Royals stand to net a welcome six-figure sum in appearance fees at the World Cup from Bodvarsson and former midfielder, Paolo Hurtado, who plays for Peru.

They will rake in at least £178,000 through Fifa's club benefits programme even if Iceland and Peru exit at the group stages and regardless of whether either Bodvarsson or Hurtado play in any games.

That includes almost £60,000 for Hurtado as he was still registered as a Reading player during Peru's qualifying campaign before moving to Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal.

Bodvarsson's involvement in the World Cup will earn Reading a cool £118,900 - a figure which could rise the further Iceland and Peru advance in the competition.