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The Norwegian connections: How have they fared?

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On the 17th of May 1814 the Norwegian constitution was enacted, and we mark this occasion by feeding children far too much ice-cream, sausages and lemonade. Furthermore, people march in the streets, wave Norwegian flags, the national anthem is sung, and Norway is celebrated for all its glory.

Yes, once more it is time for children to consume a lot of unhealthy stuff, and for the balancing act that parents have to do on this most glorious of all national holidays: How much crap can little Olav Håkon eat and drink before things go terribly wrong in the car, or even worse, when he sits on auntie Tora Therese’s lap? I have decided to mark this ocassion in my own, very special way. Well, it is the Norwegian national day “Bundesliga edition”. I am going to give a run down of how the Norwegian players, and players who have formerly played in the Tippeliga have fared in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga.

Bundesliga players

After nine goals last season, Ya Konan equalled Fredi Bobic's club record of 14 goals this season.

Didier Ya Konan(Hannover 96)
The Ivorian has truly been one of the most important players for Hannover 96 fairytale season. His 14 goals and 6 assists have been vital to secure a Europa League spot for Hannover. With his 28 matches he has a match to goal ratio of just 2, and is amongst the league’s most vicious strikers.

All in all a brilliant season by the former Rosenborg man. Hannover fans are asking themselves these days if they can count on Ya Konan in the Europa League next season. Ya Konan can change sides for only 8 million €.

Moa and Ya Konan have 24 goals between them this season.

Mohammed Abdellaoue(Hannover 96)
Ya Konan’s partner in crime is Norwegian international and former Vålerenga player Moa. Being somewhat criticized last in the Norwegian press over going to a club that was far too small for someone of his talent, both Moa and Hannover have proven their critics in the Norwegian press wrong. 10 goals and 1 assist in 26 appearances is a respectable result for a debut season in the Bundesliga.

Obasi has probably already started with the process of forgetting all about the 10/11 Bundesliga season.

Chinedu Obasi(TSG Hoffenheim)
The former Lyn striker has been amongst the greatest talents that have graced Norwegian football. However, this season has turned out to be a nightmare for the Nigerian. Injury after injury has kept Obasi, who was known as Edu in Norway, away from the football pitch. 2 starts in 5 matches, and not a single goal or assist is certainly well behind his potential. Obasi got a few minutes against Wolfsburg on the last match day of the season, and the Nigerian is probably hoping for a better season next year.

Heinz Müller(FSV Mainz05)
Most Lillestrøm supporters will remember Müller’s not always fortunate experiments with his facial hair, and his good shot stopping abilities. While Mainz have had a great first of half of their 10/11 campaign, Müller was out on a serious injury for the first half of the season.

The “Rückrunde” was somewhat more pleasant for Müller who started 10 times in the second half of the season. However, his performance was arguably only average, shown by his 69% shot stopping stat, and the fact that Müller only has kept one clean sheet. 17 conceded goals in 10 matches gives Müller a rather high average of 1.7 conceded goals per match.

Håvard Nordtveit(Borussia Mönchengladbach)
“The most mature 16 year old player I’ve ever seen.” This is how Arsene Wenger described Nordtveit upon signing him for the Arsenal reserves five years ago. But, instead of ending up in the starting line up of the “Gunners”, Nordtveit somehow found his way to Gladbach in the last winter transfer window.

His impact in the team has certainly been vital to secure a team that was stone dead last with 10 points after half of the season was played a play off spot. A sensational result. Nordveit has replaced US international Michael Bradley in defensive midfield, and taken the Gladbach fans with storm. With 16 out of a possible 17 matches for Gladbach, it stands to reason that Gladbach can thank their former manager Michael Frontzeck for bringing in the Norwegian defensive all rounder.

Per Nilsson(1. FC Nürnberg)
The former Odd Grenland man has certainly not had his most memorable season in Germany, considering that he only played 19 out of the 34 matches of this Bundesliga season(14 starts). Nilsson has had to compete with Nürnberg captain Andreas Wolf, and youngster Philip Wohlscheid for a place in central defense. Having said that, the Swede has as always been his cool, calm and collected self when he got the chance to play for his club.

Anthony Annan(Schalke 04)
“The most impressive thing about him is that he is the nephew of Kofi Annan” Germany’s favorite tabloid Bild wrote a few days ago. Certainly not a ringing endorsement. Having said that, Annan appears to have struggled with the pace of the Bundesliga, but has improved somewhat as the season progressed. Nine matches are certainly fewer than the Ghanian had hoped for.

2. Bundesliga players

The word mediocre sums up Rob Friend's season perfectly.

Rob Friend(Hertha Berlin)
The former Molde man has struggled to get past the likes of the young German talent Pierre-Michel Lassoga. The Canadian has played 25 matches, and scored 5 goals and had 4 assists. Well, pretty much a mediocre season. Enough said.

René Klingbeil(Erzgerbige Aue)
“One of the best defenders in the 2. Bundesliga”, this is how Kicker described former Viking Stavanger player Klingbeil last week. Praise doesn’t get any higher than that. All in all a great season for the defensive all rounder, who has primarily been found on left back this season. 32 appearances, and 3 goals, and one assist aren’t half bad. Klingbeil has as a matter of fact played so well, that Aue decided to renew his contract at the end of the season.

Kristian Nicht(Karlsruher SC)
The former Viking Stavanger man had to compete with US international Luis Robles for the entire season, and at the end of the season Nicht had played 12 of the 34 matches of the 10/11 campaign. Nicht didn’t distinguish himself in those matches, and his shot stopping stat of 49% isn’t exactly something you’d tell your grandchildren about in 40 years time. Both for Nicht and Karlsruhe it has been a season to forget.

Flamur Kastrati and the rest of Osnabrück are hoping to stay up in the 2. Bundesliga.

Flamur Kastrati(VfL Osnabrück)
Kastrati has struggled alongside the rest of his teammates for most of the season. 16 matches, 4 goals, and no assists. However, it has to be said that Kastrati was amongst the better players of Osnabrück’s campaign, and his four goals could prove vital if Osnabrück manage to win their relegation play off against former East German greats Dynamo Dresden.

Well, I wish all Norwegians around the world a fantastic 17th of may celebration. People from all around the world: Feel free to leave a comment below.


About Niklas

Niklas Wildhagen has been following the Bundesliga for over 20 years and he is the editor in chief of the Bundesliga fanatic.

5 responses »

  1. Happy Norway Day! I didn’t realize some of these players had scuffed around a bit in Norway.

  2. Do you think that Hannover 96 will be able to hold on to Ya Konan and Abdellaoue? I’m not as familiar with German football as I’d like to be, and I don’t know how Hannover fit into the traditional hierarchy. From your post it sounds as though they’re not the most prestigious club in the top flight.

    Is Norway a fairly traditional stepping stone for players looking to move to Germany? Are the links between clubs of the two countries firmly established? And do you think that Germany is a good finishing school for top Norwegian talent?


    • You are right about Hannover not being amongst the most prestigious sides of German football. They are a solid club, with good finances, and a cup win in their recent history.

      Difficult to tell if Ya Konan will stay. He has never been so vital for any of the other teams he has played for, and he has said that he loves it Hannover. But, he wants to move up, and this clause that lets him move for 8 million Euros comes also into play. Can you name another striker of that quality in the Bundesliga that would go for such a low sum? I can’t, so there will be teams from all around Europe all over him this summer.

      Abdellaoue will stay. It would really be a massive surprise if he leaves.

      Well, most players who play in Norway are looking to get to England and the Premier League. Some players have in the past moved to Germany, the likes of Rune Brathset and Jørn Andersen have moved to Germany and made a big impact at their clubs. But, with Ya Konan, Moa Abdellaoue and Håvard Nordtveit having made a big impact this season, and Ståle Solbakken on his way from, it stands to reason that more Norwegian players will leave Norway for the Bundesliga. But, the Bundesliga will never have the same allure that the Premier League has upon Norwegian footballers, and Norwegians in general.

      I hope that answered your question.

      • Thanks for such a comprehensive answer. Has German football traditionally not had much of a following in Norway? What about coverage of the German game in contemporary broadcast and print media?

        I’ve been told that English football has long been popular with Norwegians, but I wonder if English football’s sustained success is down more to successful marketing than anything else.

      • Sorry for the late reply. I think above all else it is the fact that Scandinavians always have had a closer bond with England and Great Britain than the rest of Europe.

        The marketing in the rest of the world done by by the Premier League has certainly granted the league’s success all around the world, but I don’t think that it pushed Norwegians into watching English football.

        The words “German” and “football” bring defensive minded play, a machinery of 11 players playing the game without passion to most Norwegians mind. But, Eurosport2 has shown the Bundesliga for the last couple of season, and the people who have watched have been impressed by it and there is a little community of Norwegians who adore the Bundesliga now.

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