Playing in the Premier League, one of the best leagues in the world is a dream for every player. The unique competitiveness typical for this league has long grabbed the attention of every football fan. While most of the players generally in the league are native ones, foreign players have also achieved success and in this article, we will talk about 4 Norwegian players who played for the top-flight teams.
John Arne Riise
John Arne Riise is one of the greatest talents of Norwegian football (if not the most significant), who has passed all the age categories in the national team, and then played more than 100 matches in it. He started his career at Aalesunds but matured in Monaco, where he even crossed paths with Henry-Trezeguet’s famous pair.
Of course, we all remember Riise for Liverpool – he was one of the symbols of Rafael Benitez’s team. The Norwegian is described as one of the most successful purchases – he was signed for just 4 million pounds, but the return from the magnificent left-back was enormous.
He skillfully executed standards, easily controlled the entire flank, possessed a killer kick and scored a lot from long range – in general, he was almost the perfect defender, who would decorate the squad of any English top team. Of course, sometimes there were incidents with him like a goal in the semi-finals of the Champions League, but for the most part, John Arne Riise was spectacular in the team.
His departure to Roma was taken with sadness – everyone understood that John Arne Riise was no longer the same and that he needed a new challenge, but no one wanted to say goodbye to one of the symbols of the club. The return to the Premier League with Fulham was not very successful – the Norwegian missed the peak of Hodgson’s team’s with the Europa League final, and then Fulham as Riise himself, got worse and worse until they were relegated from the Premier League.
During his prime, fans probably couldn’t think of other left-backs, but Riise. His charismatic display and fearless play always deserved applause not only from the supporters of Liverpool but neutral fans as well. He was also a key figure to raise the popularity of Liverpool in his native country. Even now after years, Riise left the team Liverpool is still a loved club and following the coronation of the Reds, the fan base was extremely delighted. We should also mention that even the betting industry was affected. Before the start of the 2019/2020 season websites for betting in Norway gave one of the highest chances of winning the Premier League to Liverpool, which was mostly due to Riise’s influence, let alone the club’s excellent form.
Riise is now 39 years old and already retired. He is one of the most decorated players who has ever played from Norway.
When Johnsen and another Norwegian Henning Berg crossed paths with Manchester United and the Norwegian national team, it seemed that they had been playing together all their lives and understood each other half-heartedly. One of the classic duos of Manchester of the successful period of the late 90’s was created by chance, but the fans of the Red Devils remembered these universal Norwegians for a long time. Johnsen, in addition to playing in the centre of defence, played well with his head, scored a lot, and among other things, possessed the art of the first pass and excellent vision of the field.
Johnsen stayed longer than Berg, but just like him, he had to leave in search of a permanent playing practice at the club more simply, when with age he lost speed. He was useful at Aston Villa, but in Newcastle, injuries affected the Norwegian and Jonsen decided to return to Norway, where he ended his career in Valerenga.
Interestingly, in the national team, Ronny appeared as a player of the second division and played there as a winger, striker and attacking midfielder, until one day he was transferred to the defence, where the full talent was revealed.
Morten Gamst Pedersen
For the new generation of Premier League fans, the most recognizable player may be Morten Gamst Pedersen, who has become a true legend of Blackburn. The Norwegian midfielder, who replaced Damien Duff on the left flank at Blackburn, spent nine years in the team and did not leave the team even when they were relegated from the top flight. Actually, it was Morten’s game that kept Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League for a long time – he skillfully fulfilled standards, often scored, mostly with long-range strikes. Of course, in his last seasons at Ewood Park, Gamst Pedersen was no longer in his best form but still brought considerable benefits.
The highlight of his career was a double against Manchester United in September 2005 when Blackburn beat Alex Ferguson’s team. Pedersen was one of Mark Hughes’ favourites, but with the arrival of Paul Ince, he was dropped out of the squad until Ince was sacked. Sam Allardyce returned the Norwegian to the base, but found a new position for him, shifting from the flank to the position of a central attacking midfielder, making him a full-fledged playmaker at Blackburn.
Now Morten Gamst Pedersen plays for Alta. He is 38 but does not think of retiring.
When the Norwegian national team made its historic breakthrough with Egil Olsen, one of the key players of the team that made it to the World Cup 1994, was Øyvind Leonhardsen – a midfielder who can be compared to Frank Lampard in the manner of the game. Dynamic, with a
good kick, but at the same time a very smart player, who also had an outstanding scoring flair, which helped him to take a profitable position in the penalty area during the attacks of his teams and score a lot of goals.
Øyvind Leonhardsen is considered to be a cult figure in Norway, and one of the best footballers of all time from Nordics played in England for almost 10 years. He began his English career in the famous Wimbledon, where he quickly became a pivotal figure, but in 1997 he moved to Liverpool, for which he had been rooting since childhood. Øyvind Leonhardsen was not lost in the company of Jamie Redknapp, Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Jason McAteer, but with the arrival of Gérard Houllier and the beginning of his global revolution was forced to move as a free agent to Tottenham and then to Aston Villa.