Monday, December 25, 2017

Norway Greatest All-Time Team

Norway 1998

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Norway's performances in international football have usually been weaker than those of their Scandinavian neighbours Sweden and Denmark, but they did have a golden age in the late 1930s. An Olympic team achieved third place in the 1936 Olympics, after beating the hosts Germany earlier in the tournament. Norway also qualified for the 1938 FIFA World Cup, where they lost 2–1 after extra time against eventual champions Italy. This turned out to be Norway's last World Cup finals appearance in 56 years.

Norway has always made headlines by making upset wins. They beat England in 1981, which led to the famous rant by commentator Bjørge Lillelien. They qualified for the World Cup Finals in 1994 and 1998.  In 1998, they beat Brazil 2-1 in the final group game and advanced to the second round.  

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.
Olympic 1936 Bronze medalist

GK: Erik Thorstvedt 
Erik Thorstvedt has played for Viking, Eik-Tønsberg, Borussia Mönchengladbach,  IFK Göteborg and Tottenham Hotspur.  He was one of the top goalkeepers in the Premiership during the 1990's.   He spent 6 seasons with Tottenham Hotspurs, where he was the first Norwegian to win the FA Cup. He was capped 97 times and went to the World Cup in 1998.

GK: Frode Grodas 
Grodas was capped 50 times.  He was the starting keeper at the 1998 WC Finals.  After his ten-year spell at Lillestrøm he spent six years abroad, in England, Germany and Spain. He won the English FA Cup in 1997 with Chelsea, keeping a clean sheet in a 2–0 win in the final. He rounded off his career with Norwegian Division One team Hønefoss.

GK: Henry Johnsen
Johansen made his debut for the national team in 1926 and played his last match in 1938. He participated in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, where Norway won a surprising bronze medal. He was also the Norwegian goalkeeper at the 1938 FIFA World Cup.  At club level, he played for Vålerenga from 1923–46.

CB/RB:  Henning Berg 
Henning Berg earned 100 caps, playing in 1994 and 1998 World Cup Finals.  He spent 12 seasons in England, playing for Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers, winning the Premiership three times for both clubs.  He was a part of Manchester United that won the Champions' League in 1999, but missed the Final through an injury.

RB/LB: André Bergdølmo 
Bergdølmo began his senior career at Lillestrøm in 1991, before transferring to Rosenborg for a fee of 700,000 kr ahead of the 1997 season. From there, he went on to play for clubs in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, over a period of seven years from 2000 to 2007. He then returned to Norway, spending the final two years of his career at Strømsgodset. 

SW: Rune Bratseth
Rune Bratseth is one of the best defenders in Norway's football history.  He went to the World Cup in 1994.  Bratseth started his career at local club Rosenborg BK. He was best remembered for his career with Werder Bremen.  Bratseth was named Norway's Golden Player – the best Norwegian footballer of the past 50 years by the Norwegian Football Association, in November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's jubilee.
Rune Bratseth
CB: Ronny Johnsen 
In 1996, Ronny Johnsen became the most expensive Norwegian defender when he signed for Manchester United.  He also played for Sem, Stokke, Eik-Tønsberg, Lyn, Lillestrøm, Beşiktaş, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Vålerenga. With the Red Devils, he won the 1999 Champions' League. He was capped 62 times for Norway. He went to the World Cup Finals in 1998.

CB: Thorbjørn Svenssen
Svenssen played a then record 104 international games for Norway, and captained the side 93 times between 1947 and 1966. He was one of the first footballers who played 100 international games for their country.  At the time, Svenssen was only the second player in the history of football to reach 100 international appearances. At club level, Svenssen played 22 seasons for Sandefjord, but never won any major trophies
Thorbjørn Svenssen and Roald Jensen
Stig Inge Bjørnebye was capped 76 times between 1989 to 2000.  He represented the Norwegian national team in the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup and the Euro 2000 and was capped 75 times, scoring once. For his club career, he played in England from 1992 to 2003, with both Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers.  He also played for clubs in Denmark and Norway. 

LB: John Arne Riise 
John Arne Riise was one of the top fullback in the Premiership during his years with Liverpool.  He spent 7 seasons with Liverpool, winning the Champions' League in 2005.  He also had stints with Roma in Italy and Monaco in France.  For Norway, he was their all-time cap leader.  He ony went one major tournament, namely Euro 2000, but he made no appearance. He won Kniksen Award in 2006 for the best Norwegian player of the year.
John Arne Riise 
CM: Erik Mykland 
Erik Mykland played professionally in six different countries, mainly representing IK Start, and earned 78 caps for the Norwegian national team, having appeared in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups as well as Euro 2000. . He was nicknamed Myggen (mosquito) during his career, as he used to flap his arms and hands like one when celebrating his goals. He was also known for his Bohemian lifestyle

RW/LW/CM: Morten Gamst Pedersen
He began his career with Tromsø, then played for English side Blackburn Rovers between 2004 and 2013. He then played for the Turkish side Karabükspor. Gamst Pedersen signed with Rosenborg in March 2014. In February 2016, Gamst Pedersen signed for Tromsø on a 1-year contract.  Since he made his debut in 2004, Pedersen has been capped more than 80 times, and scored 17 goals, for Norway. Against Hungary in 2006, he scored a stunning goal.

CM/ST/RB:  Jorgen Juve 
Jorgen Juve is considered Norway's greatest footballer.  He scored 33 goals in 45 games for Norway.  With 33 goals, he is still the all-time top scorer for Norway. He was captain of the Norwegian team which won the Olympic bronze medals in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.  He played as a striker, center-half and a rightback.  For his club career, he played for Lyn at home and Basel in Switzerland.
Jorgen Juve 
AM: Hallvar Thoresen
Thoresen started his career in Larvik Turn, but at the age of seventeen, he joined FC Twente. Thoresen was bought by PSV Eindhoven, where he formed a dynamic tandem with Jurrie Koolhof in the 1980s. He was a key player for seven years, serving as captain from 1983–1986. He played 50 matches for the Norway national football team, and scored 9 goals, one of which secured the historic victory over England in 1981.

RW: Roald Jensen
He made his Brann senior-team debut in 1960, while still only 17. He made his debut on the national team the same year. After Brann's relegation in 1964, Jensen transferred to professional football in Scotland as Heart of Midlothian's first non-British player. While he was in Scotland, Jensen was unable to play for Norway, as the national team did not allow professional players at that time.  Capped 31 times.

LW: Arne Brustad 
He is regarded as one of Norway's greatest players.  He made his international debut in 1935 and was one of the star players of the Berlin Olympics, where he scored five goals in four matches, including all three goals in Norway's 3-2 win against Poland in the third-place match.  Norway won the Bronze medal. He also went to the 1938 World Cup Finals.

FW: Tom Lund 
Tom Lund is regarded as one of Norway's greatest players. He spent his entire career with Lillestrom.  Ajax tried to sign him as a replacement for Johan Cruyff in 1973, but he stayed at home.  He was capped 47 times between 1972 and 1982. Lund has aviophobia, fear of flying, and traveled by car to away games in Norway and Europe. It has been speculated that this is one of the reasons why he turned down offers from abroad.

Tom Lund
FW: Per Bredesen
Bredesen began his career at his hometown team Ørn-Horten in 1947 – only 16 years old. In 1952, Bredesen became a professional when he was signed by Italian side Lazio. Bredesen played three years at Lazio, and later played for Udinese, AC Milan, Bari and Messina. In 1957, as a member of Milan, he became the first – and to this date, the only – Norwegian to win the Scudetto. He was only capped 18 times because Norwegian FA did not select professional players.

ST: Ole Gunnar Solskjær 
Nicknamed "The Baby-faced Assassin".  He played 12 seasons for Sir Alex at Manchester United.  He is known to be "super sub" on the team.  He often scored important goals coming off the bench.  He was probably best remembered for scoring the winning goal against Bayern Munich at the 1999 Champions' league Final. He was capped 67 times for Norway. He played in both the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000 for Norway.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær 

ST: Odd Iversen
Iversen began his career in Rosenborg in 1964, where he played 12 seasons. He is often regarded as one of the greatest Norwegian footballers ever, and was the top goalscorer four times in the Norwegian top division (1967, 1968, 1969 and 1979). He scored 158 goals in the top division, a record that stood for more than 20 years.  He also played for Vålerenga and Racing Mechelen in Belgium. He also got 45 caps and 19 goals for the Norway.

ST: Tore Andre Flo 
He came from the Flo football family in Norway. During his professional career, he played for Sogndal, Tromsø and Brann in Tippeligaen, before he moved abroad and played for Chelsea. After a successful spell with the English club, he was sold to Rangers for £12 million and became the most expensive Norwegian player. Flo later had spells at Sunderland, Siena, Vålerenga and Leeds United before he announced his retirement in March 2008. He went to the WC in 1998 and Euro 2000.  

Tore Andre Flo

ST: Einar Gundersen
Einar Gundersen is regarded as one of Norwegian football's first star players. He played 33 internationals for Norway, and his 26 international goals puts him second on the national team's all-time scoring list. He was also a member of the Norwegian team that played in the 1920 Olympics, and scored twice in the 3-1 win against England's amateur side. It was a monumental win for Norway at the time.

ST: Reidar Kvammen

Reider Kvammen was the first Norwegian footballer to reach 50 caps. Overall, he played 51 internationals and scored 17 goals for Norway. Kvammen was a prominent member of the Norwegian bronze-medal winning team in the 1936 Olympics, and also played in the World Cup two years later. At club level, he scored 202 goals,  which to this date is still a Viking club record. During the Second World War,  Kvammen was sent to a concentration camp in German-occupied Poland.

Reidar Kvammen

Honorable Mention
Havard Flo, Gunnar Halle, Brede Hangeland, Kjetil Rekdal, Øyvind Leonhardsen, John Carew, Asbjorn Halvorsen, Steffen Iversen, Harald Hennum, Harald Berg, Gunnar Andersen, Per Skou and Asbjørn Halvorsen, Magnar Isaksen.

Squad Explanation

-- Before I started my research, I thought this team would consist of mainly players from the Golden Generation from the 1990's. Instead, I discovered many greats from the early generation. I actually never heard of Reidar Kvammen and others before researching on the team.
-- Einar Gundersen is also the 2nd all-time leading scorer for Norway.  He scored two goals in the upset win over England in the 1920 Olympics.  The victory is sometimes considered Norway's greatest win. Over the passage of time, the victory might not seem a great deal as it happened nearly 100 years ago against an English amateur side.  England in football 100 years was liked Americans in basketball today.  They rarely lost to a side outside the United Kingdom.  It is still a historical milestone for Norway.  Gunnar Andersen, Per Skou and Asbjørn Halvorsen are also stars of that team. They made honorable mention.
-- Erik Thorstvedt and Frode Grodas were obviously choices for the top two goalkeeper position. The third keeper spot went to Henry Johnsen who helped Norway to win an Olympic medal in 1936.
-- The defense consisted mainly of players from the 1990's generation. Asbjorn Halvorsen was a star in the 1920's, but I do not know about his playing career.  So I only put him on honorable mention.
-- In 1936, Norway won the Bronze medal at the Olympics.  They knocked out the host Germany in front of Adolf Hitler. Arne Brustad  Reidar Kvammen and Jorgen Juve made my all-time team. Brustad scored five goals in four matches in Berlin, including a hat trick in the Bronze medal match against Poland. Two years later, Norway went to the World Cup Finals.  They forced the eventual champion Italy to extra time. 
-- In opinion, John Arne Riise is Norway's greatest defender.  However, many experts conisdered Rune Bratseth as the greatest defenders in Norway's football history. He did not have the same exposure as Henning Berg, Ronny Johnsen and John Arne Riise who played for bigger clubs in Europe.   
-- Hallvar Thoresen did well with PSV. He also had a historical role in beating England in the 1981 World Cup Qualifier. Tom Lund scored the other goal in the match.  The game was considered Norway's greatest victory in the modern era.  It was made famous by the Norwegian commentary
-- Norway has too many good strikers.  John Carew, Havard Flo and Steffen Iversen deserved a spot, but I selected a few old-timers.  They got selected as pioneers of Norwegian football. Odd Iverson who was actually Steffen's father took away his spot. However, I left out Harald Hennum and Harald Berg.
-- Ole Gunnar Solskjær might not be the best player of his generation, but he was the most famous due to his career with Manchester United.  I ranked John Carew almost on the same level as him, but I took Solskjær because of his contributions to Norwegian football, putting Norway on the map by scoring important goals in the club football.
-- The Flo family is the biggest football family in the region.  Tore Andre Flo is the only player selected from that family.  His cousin Havard Flo, as mentioned, is selected as the honourable mention. Tore Andre's older brother Jostein Flo represented Norway in two World Cup Finals.
-- Per Bredesen is the first Norwegian to play in Italy.
-- Jorgen Juve is considered by many to be Norway's greatest footballer.  He is their all-time leading scorer.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Lincoln,
    Well done, looking pretty good. Imo it has to be like this
    Using the famous 4-5-1 formation/ sometimes 4-3-3/ 4-1-5 in attack.

    (Grodas/ Johansen)

    Berg He. Svensson (c) Brathseth Riise
    (Johnsen R.) (Bjornebye)
    Kvammen Rekdal
    (Bredesen) (Thoresen H.)
    Jensen Brustad
    (Lund) (Hennum)

    Flo T.A.
    (Gundersen, Iversen O. Solskjaer)

    In defence i have just six players, Juve could play at right back, Halvorsen as centre back).