The middle dot: “I stood next to Ronaldo and asked for his shirt”
You played in Copenhagen and in Molde. With both clubs you won 4 titles and 2 cups. So why does a Viking decide to come to the Second Class in Belgium?
When I played at Molde in Norway, I already knew that I wasn’t going to stay there all my career. I wanted to try something new. I had a dream to play outside Scandinavia. Especially because the football competitions there are much more interesting. Also because I would really feel like playing abroad, further away from my home. Then came this opportunity. Westerlo showed interest, I had heard about the project and the ambition of the club. I thought to myself that Belgium was an interesting country to live in and also to play football, as it plays at a high level. If we could still achieve our goal of going to the highest division, this would be the biggest achievement of my career. That, too, is a dream and goal of mine, combined with the ambition of the club. So it was the best choice I could make.
Had you heard of Westerlo, when you played in Scandinavia?
I had heard of the club. I knew they had played in the First Division.
You played in the Champions League. Against Real Madrid! You played for 13 minutes. That is unbelievable. You played on the right side against Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo. That must have been a fantastic experience.
It was indeed a fantastic experience. I was still very young at the time. I got a chance in that match. We played in a strong group with Real Madrid, Juventus and Galatasaray. It was not possible to move on to the next round and that’s how everyone got their chance. It was a great experience.
Did you say hello to Cristiano Ronaldo?
I even have his shirt! Those are those moments you have to enjoy. When the referee closed the match, I was standing right next to him and so I just asked.
Did you deliberately stand beside him when the referee closed the match?
That was really a coincidence. So I asked him and he was kind enough to say yes. But he didn’t want my shirt. But I understood that.
Right winger is your best position. But what do you prefer now? Playing in a 4-3-3 or in a 3-5-2?
The position doesn’t matter much. I like to play in both. My strong points are that I’m good at defending and my crosses are good too.
Do you have more room in a 3-5-2?
In that formation you are higher up in the field. But I don’t really have a preference. It’s more the style of play. You play more offensively. So it’s not about the formation, but more about the way we play. How do we attack, etc…
After the game against Union you ended up on the substitute bench. Is it difficult for a professional football player to watch the game in that position?
It is always difficult. Everyone wants to play. Luckily, I’m 27 years old and I have experience with this. We also have a whole core of players and every game there have to be boys on the bench. It’s all part of football now. It also shows that we have great quality in our group. Even if you don’t like sitting there, sometimes you have to sit there in function of the team and the league. Personally, of course, I want to play because I can teach the team something. It’s also about the interest in the team. From that position, I will never hope that the boys on the pitch perform badly. It’s about the goal of the team. We want to go up to the highest division.
Will you give more than 300% manpower at the training to convince the coach?
If you get a knock, you also have to stand up again. This is how it works. You have to work hard and be patient and respect everyone, including your teammates. It is important to take it sportily.
How is life in Belgium?
Life in Belgium is nice. It is difficult with COVID. I’m on my own here. There are a lot of people who want to visit me, but it’s not possible. One of the things I enjoyed a lot last year was the social activity in and around the club. There is good chemistry in the team. We can do things off the field. We can talk about things other than football. It is a nice place to be. Westerlo is a good combination of professionalism and yet being social. The people in Westerlo are real. We can laugh and when the work is done we can interact socially.
You and Lukas Van Eenoo found a colleague for carpooling. We have already heard that Lukas is a bad driver. Is this true?
Only when he is tired. If I get in the car and he hasn’t gone to the petrol station shop for his coffee, I take hold of the handle. But when the coffee cup is in it, I know he is focused. And sometimes I help him with the steering wheel when he falls asleep, that can happen, especially when the road is busy.
What does the term ‘speed cameras’ mean to you? Do they have this in Denmark too?
Of course they do in Denmark. That is where the speed cameras are all the time. So if you are caught, you know where the camera is.
In Belgium, you don’t see that flash?
Yes, but in Belgium they also have this system that measures your distance (trajectory control) and I had to get used to it. It wasn’t a big fine, though. You can drive 120 and I got caught with 125. I don’t think it’s dangerous.
Final question: How is your Dutch?
My Dutch is bad. Where is the teacher Peter? It was difficult to take lessons with the Covid. I do feel that I am beginning to understand more and more terms. Especially the football terms. On the pitch I understand almost everything. And in the changing room I can now laugh when a joke takes place. I really want to learn the language because it is similar to the Danish language. I feel that it is going to be easy for me to learn it but, as I said, it is a bit difficult at the moment because of the covid and also because of the situation we had here with all the positive cases. Certainly to let a teacher in. But we will see in the future. If there are teachers, they can always offer themselves!