The image is taken from a study where the focus is on how people look at their future concerning jobs and job offers. For the world of footy, much of the same facts can be found, as we are fully aware of players leaving and coming since contracts are ending or they are making a leap forward in abilities.
What I would like to focus on though, is the green part of the circle, which is all about the ones that never stops working, believes in their club, and are settled ambition-wise. They are the ones that always gives what they got in training sessions, and making the needed efforts when it comes to game-time. They have most likely settled in the city they are living in, possibly with wives and kids, but their aim is still focused on helping their clubs to get better and reach higher on the table, or upwards in the league systems. Earlier, norwegian footy was filled with such players, but as the money train hit the country, the trends took a turn towards the global tendencies where money often means more than anything. It is of course not neccessarily something wrong with it, but it has brought a new dimension to footy all over the world, and to the players that works hard to reach as far as they can. Still, we have some that lives by the “old rules”, and those are what we call squad players.
In Norways top league there arent many left, but I would like to make a point of how important those are for any team. They are probably not the stars in the team, but they mean a lot to the mood, to the morale in the team, and to the enviroment around the club. There are especially three players that stands out in my opinion. Of course, there are more, but these are and have been key figures in their squads, both on and off the pitch.
The biggest one of late, has been Roar Strand. His loyal and impressive career in Rosenborg came to end after last season, and by then he had finished a total of 645 matches for the team and notching 121 goals in his long and eventful career. He had only one season in Molde before Rosenborg regretted the sale, and brought him back to the club. That was in 1993, and the midfielder never left after that. An astonishing 16 league titles he added during his career, which is nothing more than admirable. He was surely a good player, there is no doubt about it, but he also ment extremely much to the team as a whole for standing up whenever the team was in trouble, and never stopped working in order to help them. That work effort, and that attitude is a pure example of how much such a person means to any club. He became the glue that kept his teammates together in rough patches, and to see him play every game until cramps took him was something that is nothing more than astonishing itself.
As Roar Strands career led him to titles after titles, and several matches for the national team, Espen Søgård stands for another dimension regarding a trustful and loyal squad player. He is still active, and has notched a total of 276 matches for Lillestrøm so far. He has not played for any other team since the junior stages, and has been in the club for a total of 13 seasons for the club, and counting, and will probably stay there for the rest of his career. He does not have the same abilties as Stand, but his effort is still at 100% in every game, as he gives what he got for the team and his fellow teammates. With him on the pitch, you all know what you will get, a solid work horse with energy that preceeds most other players. His love for the club is notable, and everyone knows him. His role in the team is highly underestimated, as he brings a lot to the locker room, and stands tall when the team is struggling. He is crucial to the team, and a vital piece of the Lillestrøm side that is about to develop a new set of youngsters that will need his guidance. What they will learn from him is love for the club, and to give everything they got in all situations on the field. Søgård is a true squad player that deserves more credit than he has got, especially when knowing that he will be in the club for many more seasons, even if he may sit on the bench for most of it.
Vålerengas Freddy dos Santos is the last one I would want to put forward in this article. He has not always been in the club, but he has now put behind him 10 seasons for them, after a couple of seasons in Molde and Skeid. An Oslo native, his heart has always been in the capital, and when he retires from footy after this season, Vålerenga will miss out on probably the most charismatic player the team has had since the year of 2000. He has not always been a regular in the team, but he has contributed in many other ways, which has helped the team going in rough periods. He is the perfect locker room player that always has been there, and always has tried to bring the best out of the teammates. He will definitely be missed when he now steps down, and the team would have to look for another player that could fill his entertaining shoes, and keep the mood up in the team. Luckily, he will not leave the footy arena though, as he has signed on for the TV2 to be an expert in footy. In some degree I look more forward to seeing him bringing good mood into the studio, rather than listening to his opinions, but there is no doubt that he will be a man that the tv-channel will have good use for indeed.
These are only three players that has brought a lot to their teams. There are many more, but I singled out them because of the difference between them as players and as persons. The thing they have in common though, is that they are key figures in the team that all has given their clubs very, very much, and something that seems to be more and more underestimated in todays world of footy. They all bring the feeling of belonging, and they all bring the feat every team should and must have if they should have hopes of reaching their goals and ambitions. Every team needs such players, the glue that keeps the squad together, and helps the coaches to bring a positive era after a bad one. If such men arent present, it is very likely that losses and relegations are much closer than it may look on paper when signings are made and youngsters are developed. Just have a look on the tables, check out the history to teams, and a solution can be found. I am not saying its the exact reason, but why is it that Viking has not had success in many years, and why is it that Bodø/Glimt and Hamkam have failed the recent years? They simply havent had the squad players lurking in the locker room, bringing morale and effort to the team. And with only 13% having that attitude, things could get worse before they get better…