Veteran sports journalist and former Icelandic national footballer Bjarni Felixson passed away at the age of 86 yesterday, RÚV reports. Known as “the Red Lion,” Bjarni Felixson had a storied career in football before transitioning to journalism, where he became a household name.
“The Red Lion”
Veteran sports journalist and former Icelandic national footballer Bjarni Felixson passed away yesterday at the age of 86. As noted by RÚV, Bjarni was in Denmark to attend the funeral of longtime friend Finn Heiner. The duo originally met during their respective careers at RÚV and DR, Iceland and Denmark’s national broadcasters, forming a lifelong friendship.
Survived by his wife Álfheiður Gísladóttir, four children, and a combined 14 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Bjarni was born in Reykjavík on December 27, 1936. He gained prominence as a left-fback for the dominant KR team of the 1950s and ’60s, amassing five Icelandic championships and seven cup titles while earning six caps for the national team.
Known affectionately as “the Red Lion,” a moniker coined by his teammates, Bjarni Felixson came from a footballing family; both of his brothers also donned the national jersey. In 1963, all three of them played against England in an international match.
Bjarni Felixson transitioned into journalism in 1968, joining the National Broadcaster (RÚV), where he served for 42 years. He became a household name for his coverage of national and international sports, notably English football. Bjarni was known for his colourful commentary, once stating that a football team had “conceded a corner kick in a dangerous area.”
Bjarni witnessed the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, later recounting the emotional toll of reporting the event where 96 fans lost their lives.
Throughout his illustrious career, Bjarni received numerous accolades, including the gold medal of the National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland (ÍSÍ) on his sixtieth birthday and an honorary plaque from the Football Association of Iceland (KSÍ). Last year, he was conferred the Knight’s Cross of the Order of the Falcon by President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson for his contributions to sports, social affairs, and communication.
Bjarni’s legacy extends beyond journalism and football; two Reykjavík establishments, the Red Lion and Bjarni Fel Sportbar, were named in his honour.