“The matches did not last an hour and a half,” he wrote. “They played up to five, six hours at a time, almost like in cricket.”
The Norway that made it to France in 1998 and the Netherlands and Belgium two years later, for the European Championship, was the exception, not the rule. When the success pale, and mediocrity set in, Knausgaard discovered it comforting. “It was as if childhood came back, the world resumed its usual form,” he wrote. “Reassurance lay around me like a gray cardigan and a pair of gray felt slippers.”
That downturn was linked, little question, to the diminishing numbers of Norwegians enjoying in elite European leagues, significantly the Premier League. For a lot of the Nineteen Nineties, most English groups had some kind of Norwegian affect: 23 gamers from Norway have been registered to top-flight English golf equipment in 1997, forming the core of the squad that will play in the World Cup at the finish of that season.
By 2014, that group was down to at least one: Brede Hangeland was the lone Norwegian consultant in the Premier League. (“The Norwegian players in the big international clubs disappeared,” Knausgaard wrote. “Again, it became great to be a professional in Twente or Heerenveen or Nottingham or Fulham, and for an old man like me, it felt safe.”) England had all the time been Norway’s major export market; now, English golf equipment have been habitually procuring in France, Spain, Argentina and Brazil, and Norway suffered.
That has, slowly, began to vary, and Norway’s horizons have broadened because of this. Haaland shouldn’t be the sole consultant of the nation’s new era: He has been joined by Martin Odegaard, the Arsenal playmaker; Sander Berge, a well-regarded midfielder at Sheffield United; and Alexander Sorloth, a towering ahead at Real Sociedad, the Spanish league chief.
The depth of assets provides this marketing campaign an air not of a missed alternative, however a harbinger of a brighter future. “I am absolutely sure we will succeed in Germany 2024 if we continue with what we have started,” Stale Solbakken, the Norway coach, stated on nationwide tv on Tuesday, referring to the subsequent version of the European Championship.