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Exclusive: Reto Ziegler – Tottenham years, Harry Kane and Switzerland’s World Cup chances

The Boot Room caught up with FC Dallas defender Reto Ziegler.

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Reto Ziegler
Photo: Getty Images

For most young footballers, the Premier League is the pinnacle of club football.

The lure of some of the world’s top teams, top stadiums and top players is enough to turn almost anyone’s head, and many have – and many more will – try to crack one of Europe’s hardest leagues.

At 18 years of age, Reto Ziegler left his native Switzerland behind for the big lights of London.

The youngster had worked his way through the Grasshopper youth system, breaking into the first-team at just 16 before going on to make over 40 appearances, and all of a sudden he was big news.

It was Tottenham – and the then-Tottenham sporting director Frank Arneson – who pushed hard to bring him to White Hart Lane, managing to steal him away from Grasshoppers prematurely.

During the 2004-05 season – and under the guidance of both Jacques Santini and his replacement manager Martin Jol – Ziegler instantly thrived, making a name for himself as an exciting left-midfielder and cementing his place in the Spurs first-team with 31 appearances in all competitions.

(Photo by Paul Barker/Getty Images)

His exciting attacking play endeared him to the fans, and his youthful energy was infectious.

It was during this period that he earned his first call-up to the Switzerland national squad – just reward for a sparkling season – and he made his international bow against France in March 2005.

Whilst the 32-year-old’s career hasn’t quite managed to maintain this upward trajectory – over 17 years, Ziegler has played his football across seven countries and featured for sides such as Sampdoria, Fenerbahce, Lokomotiv Moscow and native FC Sion – Spurs remains firmly in his heart.

Speaking exclusively to The Boot Room about his career, Ziegler said:

“Of course, I am still a fan of Tottenham. I was a fan of Tottenham before I joined and I am still.

“There has been a lot of big changes there so I don’t have any team-mates anymore who play with Spurs. But I always follow them.”

When Ziegler arrived at Spurs, it’s fair to say things were a little different to what they are now.

In his first season at White Hart Lane, the Lilywhites fell short of their European objectives and limped to a ninth-place finish, being knocked out in the quarters of both the FA and League Cup.

(Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat/Getty Images)

For a squad that contained fresh, young English talent in the likes of Paul Robinson, Michael Brown, Michael Carrick, Ledley King and Jermain Defoe, as well as the experienced heads of Frederic Kanoute and Pedro Mendes, it was a hugely disappointing return considering pre-season potential.

However, fast forward little over a decade and Tottenham are in another world.

Whilst the feeling of disappointment experienced by the 2004-05 side will no doubt currently be lingering around the white side of north London following their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester United last weekend – their eighth semi-final loss in a row – progress has been huge.

Unless a dramatic late-season collapse ensues from this point forward, Mauricio Pochettino’s side look poised to finish in the top-four for the third season in a row, securing Champions League action.

The fact that the Argentine masterminded his side to top Group H – the so-called Group of Death during this year’s edition – tells its own tale, and Spurs have every reason for encouragement moving on.

During Ziegler’s brief stint at Tottenham, he could have only dreamt of dicing with the European giants of Real Madrid and Juventus, and he reflected on how far Tottenham have come in 13 years.

 “I know it is a fantastic team that they have, and they are playing Champions League. When I was there our goal was to play in Europe so I am pleased for Daniel Levy and the owners.”

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The FC Dallas centre-back also admitted that he is a long-term admirer of current Spurs boss Pochettino, lauding him for the impact that he’s had since arriving from Southampton in 2014.

“Of course [I would want to play under his management]. He is one of the top managers in England but also the world. Of course, why not?

“I hope Tottenham keep him because I know there is a lot of interest for him.”

Ziegler’s time in England, whilst short, extended further than just White Hart Lane though.

During his second year in the Premier League, he was loaned out to Wigan mid-season, where he made five starts and five substitute appearances as the Latics finished tenth – their best ever return.

He also came on for the final 18 minutes of the 2006 League Cup final defeat to Manchester United, an experience that the 32-year-old still remembers fondly to this day.

“That was really good. I was on loan from Tottenham. I was at Hamburg in Germany but they did not let me play as much as I wished so Tottenham sent me to Wigan and it was fantastic.

“Paul Jewell was the coach, we passed Arsenal in the cup and went to the final against Manchester (United) and also in the league we had a few nice games. It was a nice experience for me.”

Despite only making a handful of appearances for Wigan before being recalled back to his parent club in London, Ziegler reserved high praise for Jewell’s impact on his career as a young footballer.

“I have great memories. Paul Jewell was a fantastic coach for me.”

(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Whilst his time in England was short and sweet, it symbolises a memorable period for Ziegler.

As well as earning his first major exposure as a professional, his impressive debut campaign at Tottenham caught the eye of the then-Switzerland national coach Jakob Kuhn.

At the age of just 19, he was awarded a spot in the Swiss squad for World Cup qualifiers against both France and Cyprus, being given his full debut in a battling 0-0 draw with the 1998 FIFA World Cup winners at the potentially daunting Stade de France – no mean feat for someone making their bow.

Since that day, Ziegler has represented his country 35 times over 13 years.

This is a period that has spanned inclusion in the previous two World Cup squads and, although he won’t be in Russia for his third tournament, he insisted that he’ll be keeping a keen eye on his country’s efforts as they face up to Brazil, Costa Rica and Serbia in a competitively-looking Group E.

Switzerland currently sit – somewhat surprisingly – 6th in the world rankings, ahead of giants like France, Argentina and Spain, and Ziegler reckons they could be the dark horse of the tournament.

I think they have a good chance. They play against Brazil, this will be the most important game. If we don’t lose that game, Switzerland will go through.”

A large part of Switzerland’s sustained success on an international level over the past few years has come directly from Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri, who became the 50th player to score a World Cup hat-trick when he achieved the feat against Honduras in 2014.

Whilst the former Bayern Munich talisman has struggled on a domestic front this season with his Stoke side facing relegation, his individual displays have often provided some rare moments of joy.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Ziegler believes that he could be the driving force in the summer.

“I am obviously a big fan of the way he plays and also he is my close friend.

“I know he is struggling with his team, so I wish they can stay in the Premier League and he can show what he can do on the field because he is, for me, the best Swiss player at the moment.

“He’s a guy who makes a difference. He’s the main player we have to create in Switzerland.”

It’s not just Shaqiri that has impressed Ziegler, either.

Whilst he was taking to the field alongside the likes of Defoe, Keane and Kanoute during his time at Tottenham, Spurs have the small matter of Harry Kane leading the line – and Ziegler admitted his admiration of the 24-year-old, believing that he could be the one to lead England’s summer charge.

“I am happy for England also because he’s a fantastic striker. He’s very effective in front of goal. Players like him you do not find everywhere so I am sure England will do really well at the World Cup thanks to him.”

Yet, whilst Ziegler will undoubtedly have a vested interest in how Switzerland get on when the FIFA World Cup gets underway in less than 50 days’ time, his priorities still firmly lie in domestic football.

There were rumours flying around in the Swiss media over the previous summer that Ziegler would potentially return to British shores at either Celtic or Leeds United, bringing his 16 years of experience from Europe to the dressing room, but he reiterated that these rumours were just that.

“You always hear of agents who call you but no, I never had something concrete on the table.

“Yes, I heard some names of teams but nothing really serious.”

Instead of sourcing a route back into the English game, Ziegler has a new challenge at hand.

The lure of Major League Soccer has grown exponentially over the past five years – with some of the world’s most decorated players already going over to see what the fuss is all about – and the Swiss international is the latest European to relocate over to America after signing for Texan side FC Dallas.

It’s fair to say, it is a case of so far, so good too.

After a shock two-legged defeat to Panama minnows Tauro FC in the CONCACAF Champions League signalled a disappointing start, both Ziegler and FC Dallas have responded in fine style to remain unbeaten in the Western Conference after six games, conceding just the three goals in 540 minutes.

(Photo by Christophe Simon/Getty Images)

Their defensive record – the best across the MLS – is testament to the partnership that Ziegler is growing alongside USA international Matt Hedges, providing solid foundations in the Dallas defence.

While the former Swiss international’s career may not have quite panned out in the way he wanted after the speed of his breakthrough at Tottenham, and in the Premier League, he’s more than content where he is now.

The signs are looking good for FC Dallas at present, and Ziegler will want to squeeze out all of that 15-year experience as his new side look to conquer the MLS for the very first time in their history.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

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Championship

Exclusive: Steve Morison raves about Millwall fans, discusses ‘difficult’ Leeds spell

The Welsh international spoke with pride when reflecting on Millwall’s most recent Championship campaign.

Jake Jackman

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Steve Morison
Photo: Getty Images

Millwall achieved an impressive 8th placed finish during their first season back in the Championship and were ultimately only three points off of a play-off place.

The Lions were one of the surprise packages of the 2017/18 Sky Bet Championship season and Neil Harris deserves a great deal of praise for the results that he has delivered at The Den.

One player who symbolises what the club represents is striker Steve Morison.

The 34-year-old has played over 200 matches for the Lions and will undoubtedly go down as a Millwall legend.

In an exclusive interview with The Boot Room, the Welsh international spoke proudly about the recent campaign, praising the incredible team spirit as the reason behind the club’s success:

“We’ve got an incredibly tight-knit and committed squad of players who work hard both individually and collectively.

“Since he first took charge, the manager has implemented a way of playing which gets the best out of the players he has at his disposal and also, since the back end of last season, we’ve formed a great bond with the supporters.

“Each of those elements are important individually, but when you add them all together then it shouldn’t really be as big as surprise that we have surpassed expectation as it has been made out by some.”

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Although Millwall cannot compete with the finances of some of the bigger clubs in the second tier, they boast an ardent fan-base and they have found a set of players who have been successfully able to connect with those in the stands.

In the past, the supporters have been difficult to play in front of and some players have struggled to live up to expectation but that hasn’t been a problem for the current squad. Understandably, Morison was keen to emphasise the tremendous role that the supporters played throughout the campaign.

“They can be a tough crowd to play for when things are going against you but so long as you keep putting everything in to each performance, playing with passion and desire, then they will continue backing you.

“I’ve played at Millwall for a long time now all-in-all and I’m sure they respect my achievements and personality, as I do their honesty and love for the club.”

It is no surprise to hear Morison speak highly of the club’s supporters. After all, he has played more matches for Millwall than he has at any other club he has been with.

This is his third spell at The Den and he is a player that the supporters have formed a genuine connection with.

A no-nonsense centre-forward, who benefits from the atmosphere created by the fans, Morison doesn’t shirk a physical encounter, making him the perfect striker for the current squad.

“This really feels like home for me as a player. The club gave me my big chance when I first moved here, which was a platform to go on to play for my country and in the Premier League.

“Since that first spell I’ve been back twice, firstly on loan which wasn’t so successful for me or the club, and more recently since the gaffer took over.

“The style of play suits me and I suit the style of play, which is why I think my best performances have tended to come in a Millwall shirt.”

This season, Morison has shown no sign of slowing up, playing 44 of the Lions’ Championship matches and becoming one of the mainstays of the team under Neil Harris.

The 34-year-old only scored five times, but he was an important part of Millwall’s success. In addition to his goals, he contributed eight assists and was a handful every time he stepped out onto the pitch.

Over the course of the campaign he moved to within ten of 100 goals for the club.

(Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

“Personal records and accolades are always nice to receive but if I’m not scoring and the team is winning then I’m far happier than I would be if it was the other way around.

“I’ve had some great memories of my time at Millwall and hope there is many more to come, including reaching that goal landmark which any player, no matter what club they play for, should be proud of.”

That would be a major landmark to reach and it is likely that he will be given more than a fair opportunity to get the goals required.

Naturally, Morison is right to speak about the team being more important than personal achievement, but there is a good chance that he can enjoy both at The Den.

It would be a great moment for him, as he has enjoyed his best years at the club and to reach 100 goals would be a fair representation of his contribution.

Morison will be remembered fondly by the Millwall supporters, but the current manager in the dugout is already legend at the club.

Neil Harris achieved a lot as a player and has had a similar impact since taking over as the number one at The Den.

His former team-mate speaks positively about his current boss and it is obvious that he sees him as havingd a bright future in management.

“The gaffer is one of those who knows how to get the best out of players both individually and, when all put together, as a team. He is very honest and up front and we regularly have lengthy chats about all sorts of things. He respects the opinions of his players, especially senior ones like myself.

“He knows this club so well – he’s a Millwall legend – but he was right when he said, after his appointment, that he wanted to be judged on his performance as a manager and not as the player he was.

“Since then we’ve been to Wembley twice, winning promotion once, and almost secured a Play-Off spot for a chance to get to the Premier League. Those achievements speak for themselves and ultimately say a lot about his quality as a manager and a person.”

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

There are times when a manager and club fit like a glove. Harris and Millwall are an example of that.

He played the majority of his career at The Den and is one of the players who, like Morison aims to, scored more than 100 goals for The Lions.

During his playing career, he learnt everything there was to know about the club and it isn’t a shock that it has allowed him to transition seamlessly into management.

Harris started as the boss of the Under-21s and is now emerging as one of the most exciting coaches in the country.

Millwall’s style of play is functional, but it has earned the club good results.

An 8th placed finish is a superb achievement and sees them finish above the likes of Leeds United, Norwich City and Sheffield Wednesday, all of whom were seen as teams that could challenge for promotion this season.

He may now be seen in a similar way to Harris, but Morison hasn’t been at Millwall for his entire career.

The Welsh international tested himself at a higher level with Norwich in the Premier League. Meanwhile, he also played for Leeds United, but failed to make an impact at Elland Road.

It didn’t work out for him in Yorkshire, but he doesn’t want to make excuses for his lack of impact.

“I’ve been fairly honest in my assessment of my time at Leeds in the past. It just didn’t work out anywhere near as well as I’d hoped or the club had hoped for me. It was a difficult time to be a player with the controversy and uncertainty in the background, which does have an impact on performances and results.

“But as an individual I don’t want to make excuses. I didn’t play as well as I would have liked and as I have done since.”

Although it didn’t work out for Morison at Leeds, he won’t finish his career looking back at the spell with regret. Ultimately, it led him back to Millwall and that is where he feels at home.

The atmosphere and playing style allow him to play to a high standard, despite approaching 35 years of age.

Although some would consider Morison to be nearing the end of his time as a player, he isn’t ready to call it a day just yet.

“So long as I feel fit and I’m contributing then I want to play as long as possible. You’re a long time retired as a footballer and I want to prolong my own career as much as is possible.

“I feel that I’ve contributed well again this season and am looking forward to coming back for training again at the end of June to get ready for another campaign. I don’t look too far forward.

“As a club we’ve got to ensure that this season and the success we’ve enjoyed becomes a platform for progression and even bigger and better things in 2018/19. That has to be our aim.”

There is a lot for Morison to achieve before hanging up his boots. The 100 goals will be on his mind, even if it isn’t his main priority. Also, he will want to continue to play a part in the progression of Millwall.

The Lions finished 8th this season and there will be a desire to go one step further and make the play-offs during the 2018/19 campaign. It would be an incredible achievement for the club to reach the top-flight, but the last 12 months show that it shouldn’t be considered impossible.

Morison still has a part to play and it is clear he has the hunger to deliver sustained progression at the club.

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Arsenal

Exclusive: Havard Nordtveit – Hoffenheim move, Julian Nagelsmann and facing Liverpool

The Norwegian international discussed his time at Hoffenheim and his experience of English clubs.

Mathew Coull

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Havard Nordtveit
Photo: Getty Images

This summer West Ham United utility man Havard Nordtveit called time on his career with the Hammers, after just one season.

Signed from Borussia Monchengladbach on a free transfer he suffered from the London outfits’ own struggles, the change of stadium and being asked to play out of position at right-back.

After just 21 games for the Hammers, he headed back to Germany, where he had such success previously.

Now, speaking exclusively to The Boot Room, the Norwegian international has discussed working under an exciting new manager, facing Liverpool in the Champions League and coming through the ranks at Arsenal.

Plenty of teams in Germany would have wanted Nordtveit this summer.

He built a fine reputation in the Bundesliga during his time with Gladbach.

In fact, just hours before his July transfer was announced, he was being linked with Bundesliga rivals Hamburg.

In the end, it was Hoffenheim who snapped up the Norwegian. They had just finished fourth in the Bundesliga and it was a brilliant move for the 27-year-old.

(Photo by Patrik Stollarz/Getty Images)

But, as the former Hammer explained from Germany, it has been a topsy-turvy season:

“It went well in the first couple of months. But then my games weren’t as good as I was hoping for,” he admitted. “Then obviously I was not good enough for the team. I have been training hard and lately, it has been back to normal again.

“It’s good to be back in Germany and also I needed half a season to get to know the new coach and the new system. I am looking forward to the rest of the campaign.”

Nordtveit started the season playing in the Hoffenheim back three, but found himself out of the squad entirely from mid-December until last month.

Despite his problems, he did not sulk and simply worked hard to get back into the first-team:

“I am not that person,” proclaimed the Norwegian international. “I have been in that situation before with West Ham and Gladbach. It’s all about giving everything you can instead of moaning.

“You have to be positive,” he continued. “This is a team sport. You have to give your best for the team. If that means you are playing or not you know that you will get the chance in the end.”

This season Hoffenheim and Nordtveit were challenging for the Europa League.

However, at the start of the campaign, the Bundesliga outfit were in Champions League action for the first time in their history.

They took on Premier League side Liverpool in the qualifying rounds, with Nordtveit playing in both games.

Liverpool were not yet working under Mohamed Salah power but still proved far too strong for their German opponents over two legs:

“We knew they were strong. With their attacking forwards they are brutal. We had a very good home game. But in the end, it is a little better a feeling to know we went out of the play-offs against a team that reached the finals,” Nordtveit explained, with a sense of vindication for his club’s exit.

“What Klopp has done with the club is massive and also Salah, at this time, maybe is Europe’s best player.”

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Hoffenheim’s entrance to the Champions League was masterminded by their brilliant young coach Julian Nagelsmann. The 30-year-old is just a few years older than the Norwegian but has proven himself a top manager:

“He is fantastic,” said an excited Nordtveit. “He has great experience and his own style of play. It is a lot of tactics for every new player. Also when I came in then there was a lot of new things I had to learn quite quick.

“I am now starting to see that I learn something in myself to get into the rhythm that he wants. He is like a young, bright, football professor.”

He then gave him high praise, by comparing him to his former Gladbach boss Lucien Favre:

“He reminds me a little bit of Lucien Favre. He thinks about football 24/7. Small details, always, which can mean we take the three points.

“If I could compare him with someone it would be Lucien Favre, which is not a bad comparison.”

Nagelsmann’s clear ability has seen him linked with taking over from Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

The Norwegian came through the ranks at Arsenal, but made it clear that he spent most of his time working with the current Arsenal assistant Steve Bould:

“I spoke with him of course but he was more observing the training. I was more with the reserve team.

“I was more with Steve Bould, the legend. He was quite important for me, a really good guy. I think he was one of the more important guys in Arsenal when I was there.”

Working under the Arsenal legend as a young defender must have been a big learning experience for the Hoffenheim player, who speaks highly of his time at Arsenal:

“I went quite early, about 16,17,” remembered the talented utility man. “It was perhaps the most important choice I did in my career because there I learnt how to do the basics in football.

“I did not play much with the first-team but the experience of training with the first-team and getting to know English football and a really high standard was really important to me.

(Photo by Nikolay Doychinov/Getty Images)

“From there, when I moved to Germany, I had the perfect base to have an OK career.

“Jack Wilshere was there before he finally broke through to the first-team. We had Wojciech Szczesny now second goalkeeper for Juventus. Many of the players are having big careers.  

“For me and a lot of the players we were quite lucky to have this opportunity.”

But Nordtveit still remembers his time fondly. He still follows the club, where good friend Granit Xhaka is also playing.

The Gunners have been unable to put a smile on the face of Nordtveit by picking up the Europa League trophy in Arsene Wenger’s final year.

However, with London outfit set to compete in the competition again next season, under a new manager, the two could well come face-to-face. 

That would be an opportunity Hoffenheim’s intrepid Norwegian would relish.

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Exclusives

Exclusive: Havard Nordtveit – A difficult West Ham spell under Slaven Bilic

The 27-year-old opened up on his difficult season-long spell at the Olympic Stadium.

Mathew Coull

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Havard Nordtveit
Photo: Getty Images

In the summer of 2016, Slaven Bilic looked to make improvements to his West Ham United first-team squad as the Hammers looked to press on after an impressive 2015-16 campaign.

One of the players that the Hammers boss decided to bring in was Norwegian international Havard Nordtveit.

West Ham beat off competition from several other clubs to snap up the utility man from German side Borussia Monchengladbach on a free transfer, following the expiry of his contract with the Bundesliga club.

The Norwegian has now spoken to The Boot Room exclusively about his time at West Ham, the Olympic Stadium and the Hammers’ fans.

It would be fair to say that Nordtveit’s season with West Ham may not have gone to plan. He played just 21 times for the club in 2016-17 and never quite achieved the form he had showcased in the Bundesliga with Gladbach.

But, despite his struggles, he insisted he was happy with his time at West Ham:

“It was perfect,” beamed the Norwegian. “I always dreamt to be in the Premier League. When I got the chance to go to England with West Ham it was an easy choice.

“Slaven (Bilic) was quite open that he wanted me. I had some good games and I had some bad games and it was a bit up and down. But all over I am really happy I took that choice. West Ham is a fantastic club.”

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Nordtveit simply never seemed to settle at West Ham. The Norwegian was perhaps a victim of his own versatility. With injury problems at right-back for Bilic the utility man was asked to play as a makeshift option on occasions for the Hammers:

“There (at West Ham) I played a little right-back. Slaven said he needed me because we had a lot of injuries. When the manager asked me, of course I tried my best.”

 

His inexperience in the position showed and it was tough for the Norwegian international, but he knuckled down and did a job for the club in a desperate situation.

In general, last season was a struggle for West Ham. An 11th place finish perhaps sugarcoated a mixed campaign in which they finished just five points ahead of Watford in 17th.

It was the first season West Ham played at the Olympic Stadium, leaving their beloved Boleyn Ground.

It has been a constant source of controversy since, with many West Ham fans unhappy with their new home.

Nordtveit never had the pleasure of playing at Upton Park. However, the importance of the old ground was never lost on the new recruit:

“I never played at Upton Park but what I heard was that the atmosphere there was amazing. What I got to know is that the fans were not that happy to change the stadium after such a long time and being such a traditional club.”

The move has certainly seen West Ham’s management of David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady receive some hefty criticism since.

In March, it boiled over during a defeat to Burnley, when fans invaded the pitch and many hurled abuse and projectiles at the director box.

However, Nordtveit understands why the move went ahead:

“Everything is up to the chiefs at the club and they have a great deal on the Olympic Stadium, I am sure they only want the best for the club. So I think it is hard to say no to that.”

Speaking from Hoffenheim, where he is now back playing in the Bundesliga, the 27-year-old continued:

“I hope West Ham can get the same feeling at the Olympic Stadium as they did at Upton Park.”

The former West Ham man clearly enjoyed his time in London, even if his Premier League dream did not come true with the Hammers.

What is clear is that he understood the frustrations of the West Ham fans in what was an odd and difficult transition season in 2016-17.

For Nordtveit, that may have also been part of the problem regarding his ability to settle at the club.

Now, back in Germany, his career is still on the right track and he appears humbled by the experience of playing for such a traditional club.

The defender, who came through the youth ranks of Arsenal, is now playing regularly in Germany for Hoffenheim, who are chasing the Europa League places in the Bundesliga.

(Photo by Patrik Stollarz/Getty Images)

After previous success in Germany with Nurnberg and Gladbach, it seems that German football is what suits the Norwegian international best.

When it comes to a potential return to England, one day, it seems the West Ham experience was the end of his Premier League career:

“After it all, we made the conclusion that I fit better to the Bundesliga than I do the Premier League,” admitted the 27-year-old.

“I have now been in Germany for seven years, maybe more than that. I like it here. I like the stadiums, the atmosphere in the games, the way of play.

“How we’re playing now it is real entertainment.

“I can see in front of me that I spend my last years as a professional football player here in Germany before I go home and put my legs high up on the table.”

But it is not a dig at West Ham, more a reflection on his troubled season with the club.

“I always watch them (West Ham),” Nordtveit admitted. “I hope they can take some points now and get out the danger of going down.”

He will never go down as a West Ham great, but Nordtveit truly appreciated the chance to play for West Ham in his career.

No Hammers fans would begrudge him any success in the future, which looks set to be in Germany until he hangs up his boots.

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