Isak Bergmann Johannesson, 18 years old from Akranes, Iceland. Football player for FC Copenhagen and the icelandic national team. A young boy with a wise soul and a deep, profound passion for football, but always grounded in and guided by empathy and kindness.
This interview is about career, passion, confidence and life in general. About the courage required to live one’s standards and not someone else’s.

Which are the most influencial people when it comes to shaping you as a human being – and what have they installed in you that you find particularly valuable? 

My mom and dad have shaped me as a human being. Of course there have been a lot of people along the way but my values and inspiration are from them. They have installed in me that no matter how big of a footballer I become, the most important thing is always being a good person. If you are not a good person then you are nothing. 
I have also learnt from them that some people don´t see life in the same way as you, and you don´t have to be around those people. I learnt from a very young age to never pretend to be someone else than who I am. Everyone can’t have the same ambition and goals that you do, you should still respect those people, but you don’t have to be with them. I have surrounded myself with good people.

photography by SIMON LARSSON

How is it that you are so young but already so full of insights and wisdom?

In my opinion it is because I am always willing to learn and listen to people. I am on a journey to become a better version of myself every day, and by doing that you need to be willing to learn, listen and ask. I have done this from a young age.

What’s the source of your relentless focus? What are you hungry for? What would be the ultimate?

My relentless focus is to get better every day. To be as good as I can be in my sport. And always being a good boy from Akranes and represent Akranes in the best way possible.

Clothes: Leonardo Tee and Leonardo Shorts

What interest you?

I would say a lot of things interest me. I am interested in listening how great athletes have reached the top and stayed there for many years. How they live their lives and take a little bit that I like and use it in my own life and career. I love travelling with family and friends and making as many memories as possible with the people I love. 
I am also very interested in nutrition. How to maximise my performance through what I put into my body. Then of course I love football. So Family, Friends, Football and Food – the four F´s.

What do you value in another person?

Positivity, confidence and a willingness to learn. Calmness. Joy, kindness, a care about others, self-love, funny, optimism, being thankful, looks after their body. Being humble. 
These are some things I value in a person but there are probably a lot more.

What is a personality trait that inspires you, but that is far away from who you are? 


And the opposite – what do you think is a really uninspiring personality trait? 

I really don’t like cocky people who look at themselves as bigger than other people. People who are not kind because they think they are untouchable and more important than other people. 

How do you approach challenges and difficult times in order to grow from it?

I approach challenges and difficulties with a thankful state of mind because these periods are when you learn and grow the most as a person. I look at it like when you go up a hill it can be very hard to go up the hill, but you learn and get better and stronger from going up the hill instead of going down the hill which is easy. You have to be thankful for both the ups and the downs, being humble, work hard and try to have the same focus even in difficult times.

When players and athletes face challenges and failures – what do you think is important to get through it and come out stronger

To do all the things I said above. Accept the challenges and be thankful for them because the tough times make you a better person and a better athlete. Failures happen to everyone. It’s the failures and the challenges who make you or brake you. 
It’s about being tough enough to tackle them. Nobody has reached the top without failing. NOBODY.

Clothes: Leonardo Jacket

What is included in a winning mentality?

To be able to push yourself every day even though it is hard, even if you are sad or angry. Always push yourself to be the best, to win, and to do it again and again and again. 

If one doesn’t have it right now, how can one cultivate it? Can one cultivate it? 

Yes of course. By being in the right environment and surround yourself with the right people. People who can push you and help you get there. But of course, nothing happens unless you want it.

What’s the dark side of your relentless focus and work ethic? 

I can burn out and it can be negative for the people around me. If I put too much pressure on myself that can lead to stress which can have negative impact on the people around me.

How do you handle it?

I think about what I’m grateful for. What I already have. I think of where I came from, how I got here and where I want to go.

What do you do in order to prevent yourself from reaching a point where you’ve pushed yourself too hard?

I give my mind a rest from everything. If your mind is tired your body is tired, so I take my mind away from thinking about improvements and my career. Relaxing by doing something else. 

What are your weaker sides as a soccer-player? 

My intensity in defensive actions, my heading and my defending 1on1.

Do you work actively with them? How? 

Yes I try to analyse what I am doing wrong and how I can improve. Then I practice it. Practice, practice and practice.
Always giving 110% even when I’m training on my weaknesses.  
If you don’t give your all you won’t improve.

Is there a weaker side as a soccer-player that you don’t care about improving? 

No I want to getter better at everything. Of course everything can’t be top but you have to strive for that. I want to be allround as a player. Technically, tactically, physically and mentally. 

photography by SIMON LARSSON

What do you think are the most important things for a parent to a teenage boy/girl who wants to pursuit a career in elite sports? 

Supporting them no matter what and direct them in the right way. Help them with everything and always be there for them, doesn’t matter if they have had a good or bad performance. Encourage them, show interest and be honest with them. 

What are three concrete standards/habits for young athletes in any sport that they should install that would help them towards their full potential?

Have fun, find your motivation, accept and grow from failure.

What do you think is the main reason why people don’t work with their weaker sides and traits? 

I think it is because they are scared of failing, scared of doing bad. They are scared to make mistakes because of what other people will think. 
Nobody became good at anything without making any mistake. Make mistakes, try new things and stop thinking about what other people think.

Clothes: Leonardo Jacket

What is confidence? 

Confidence is believing in yourself no matter what. And then be tough enough to follow through, having the courage to work to reach your goals and to be yourself. 
Doing what you love and not listening to what other people think, I think that is confidence. Confidence is being able to be yourself. Staying true to your values around other people, even those you don´t know. That is confidence. 

How do you get/build/find/cultivate confidence?

Like in football it is by repetitive training again and again, so when the game starts you are so confident because you know you have putted in the work. 
I would not be confident if I had a dance final because I have never danced, but in a football final I would be confident because I have the passion and I know that I have putted in the hours.

Is there a bigger meaning with your talent? With who you are? 

Yes I think so but I think it would be arrogant to say that I know it now when I am 18 years old and just have started my journey to find that bigger meaning.
It’s a big question and at this moment in time I don´t have the answer but maybe I can answer you in 30-80 years.

Do you think we all have a specific purpose here on earth? How do you think we find it?

Yes and it is to find that purpose. Try as many things as you can and find what you are passionate about.

What do you want to improve with yourself as a person?

I want to improve my patience. Remind myself that everything happens for a reason, just stay calm.

Why do people struggle with low self-esteem? 

I think it is because people have not found their passion, love and their real selves.

What type of leaders does the world really need in the future? 

Leaders who knows the way, who has the courage to go the way, and the willingness to show the way to others.

What type of leaders won’t survive? And why? 

Leaders who are leading to look good themselves. Leaders who are just leading for money and fame and not for the right reasons.

Clothes: Leonardo Jacket and Leonardo Pants

What makes you truly happy? 

My family and my friends. Doing things I love and see my loved ones happy with me. Good, positive vibes with my loved ones.

What makes you sad? 

When my family and friends are sad or disappointed or when I have let them down.

You can have three people, dead or alive, over for dinner and ask one specific question to each one of them – which three people and what questions? 

Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady and Cristiano Ronaldo. “What motivates you?”

When your life is about to end, with one word, what do you hope people will say about you as a human being? 



Photography by
Marcus Falk Olander

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