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Exclusive: Scott Parker talks West Ham heroics, Fulham’s promotion chances and a potential future in coaching

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“This is probably not the answer you are looking for but to start looking back on a career that I haven’t quite finished might suggest that I should stop playing, which I certainly don’t envisage doing immediately. Can you ask me again in a few years’ time?”

When asked to recall the most memorable moment of his career to date, this was certainly not the answer expected of Fulham midfielder Scott Parker, who has enjoyed fruitful spells with Charlton Athletic, Norwich City, Chelsea, Newcastle United, West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham and England. Nonetheless, it is a response that embodies the spirit that the 36-year-old has shown throughout almost two decades in the game. An industrious midfielder, who has proven himself to be an ardent professional, this motivation to continue at the highest level is firmly in-line with the player’s character.

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A cultured midfielder, he who has clocked up the miles for both club and country, Parker has featured for the England National Team a total 18 times, while making over 400 league appearances across the Premier League and the Championship. Despite being a regular receiver of praise at domestic level, with sporadic appearances for his country, his increased involvement with The Three Lions came as a result of his breathtaking individual performances throughout his stay at Upton Park, with West Ham United.

In 2011, Parker found himself named Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association. Despite being one of the closest run contests in recent memory, the then-30-year-old topped the journalist’s poll ahead of Tottenham’s Gareth Bale. Following in the footsteps of legendary England skipper Bobby Moore in 1964, as he became only the second West Ham recipient of the award. Humble, as ever, he told The Boot Room:

“It was great to be recognised by the football writers and it’s an aware that means a lot to me though I have to be honest to say that I still feel some mixed emotions, the award came at the end of a season where we were relegated at West Ham.”

This accolade came as testimony to Parker’s excellent displays throughout the year with the Hammers, despite the club’s eventual relegation from the Premier League. Having made 32 league appearances for the Upton Park outfit, his consistency of performance for a team residing in a lowly top flight position saw him force his way back into the England set-up, earning a highly-anticipated recall for a Euro Qualifier against Wales.

Just like Moore, Parker would then go on to captain his country, albeit just the once – a moment he highlights, alongside his Three Lions debut, as one of the proudest moments of his career to date: “I think my debut, coming on as a sub against Denmark, will always stick out in my mind as it’s a great honour for any footballer to represent their country. I captained the side at Wembley against Holland too which was a great honour, the 2-0 win against Wales in the Euro 2012 qualifier at the Millennium stands out also.”

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Named West Ham’s Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons, interest in Parker’s services was unsurprisingly high following the club’s demotion. After handing in a transfer request at Upton Park, he would soon secure his move to White Hart Lane with Tottenham, on a three year deal, under Harry Redknapp. A long-term target of the then-Spurs manager, the Englishman would quickly form a highly successful midfield partnership with Croatian international Luka Modric – a player he considers the best he has ever played alongside:

“There are many players to mention with different attributes that have made them great to play alongside as well as difficult opponents. I’d have to say that the two players that stand out are Luka Modric and Steven Gerrard who I played with at Spurs and England respectively. I have highlighted these two players as they have played alongside me in midfield it it’s easy to see how much talent they have in their positioning, movement and ability to pick out a good pass.”

Parker would go on to make 60 appearances for Tottenham, captaining the club on multiple occasions, with his committed style of play proving a revelation, particularly in his debut campaign. Nonetheless, when he opted to have surgery on his Achilles tendon in his second season at the Lane, he missed a long stretch of games which put him out of action until December. In his wake, the pairing of new signings Mousa Dembele and Sandro (who were seen as the players to replace Modric, who signed for Real Madrid in August 2012) were preferred by newly appointed manager André Villas-Boas. A tactical decision which would ultimately result in Parker’s summer move to Fulham.

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The midfielder’s decision to move to Craven Cottage in August 2013 came as a surprise to many, and very few would have anticipated the Englishman decision to stay at the club following relegation at the end of the campaign. After all, only a season previously he had been playing in Europe for Spurs and driving the club’s challenge for a top four Premier League place. He finished his debut campaign as the Lilywhite’s Player of Year, before featuring heavily for the England National Team at Euro 2012. Nonetheless, determined to right the club’s wrongs, he opted to stick it out at Fulham in the Championship, and there he remains.

“I think I owed this [staying beyond the summer] to the club. It’s never great to be relegated and it’s an experience where you analyse the season and try to figure out how you might have done things differently to avoid relegation.  It’s part of football and something teams and players have to deal with.”

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It hasn’t be all plain sailing for Fulham since relegation from the Premier League, despite supporters and pundits, alike, anticipating an almost instantaneous return to the top flight. Nonetheless, after a few campaigns flirting with relegation, the London outfit finally looks in a position to challenge for promotion and, at the very least, a spot in the play-offs. Revitalized under the stewardship of head coach Slavisa Jokanovic, who expertly steered Watford to the promised land two seasons previously, Parker believes the squad has learnt the lessons required to fulfil their potential this term:

“The last two campaigns have been below par in terms of where we finished in the table and it’s a stark reminder of just how competitive the championship really is. Our ambitions have always been to try to get back into the Premier League and if we’ve learnt anything from the last two campaigns is that you have to be consistent and get a good run of form at key points in the season to stay in touching distance with the teams at the top. If we manage to do this, there is no reason why we cannot challenge for a play-off place. However, many other teams in this league will probably be thinking the same thing.”

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At the age of 36, Parker has seen his game time limited this season, making 12 starts in 16 appearances. In spite of this, he continues to play a pivotal role at the club, with his experience proving a tremendous asset. The midfielder recognises the unforgiving nature of the Championship and understands exactly what is required of Fulham in order for the club to fulfil their targets come May. Currently in 10th place, with 25 points after 18 matches, the club have shown signs of brilliance this term. However, these moments have been undermined by abject performances and failure to close out games, like against Queens Park Rangers, as Parker described:

“Our performances have been good and we’ve had chances to win some of the matches we’ve lost or drawn in; QPR at home springs to mind where we dominated for most of the match and had good chances to win, instead we conceded late, lost the game and we were left scratching our heads a little bit. There are still many games to play, this league is relentless and we have to keep ourselves focussed and motivated for every  challenge. The recent win at home against Huddersfield Town demonstrates just how good we can be on our day.”

There is a certain romance in the direction Parker’s career has progressed. Having, himself, enjoyed considerable success as a youngster, winning the 2004 PFA Young Player of the Year Award in the season he made the switch from Charlton to Chelsea – an accolade which would set him up for a very successful career in the upper echelons of the English game – he is now able to offer his experience and guidance to those who could one day follow in a similar path. Speaking with fondness, Parker described how he was able to pass on some of his experience to Ryan Sessegnon, when the 16-year-old made his senior debut for Fulham earlier this season:

“This certainly brought back memories of my first match [for Charlton under Alan Curbishley, also at the age of 16]. The advice I give to young players is to enjoy every moment, there are a lot of pressures associated with playing professionally and it’s vital for a young player to possess mental strengths and the ability to come back stronger when faced with injuries or when things aren’t going well.”

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When his playing days draw to a close, a career in coaching, or even management, appears to be the next step for the Fulham captain. Having completed his UEFA Pro licence during the summer, he has spent his time at Craven Cottage getting to grips with this side of the game through his work with the Fulham under-21 team. Playing just as big a role off the pitch, as on it, he we also seen assisting with first team affairs on the bench during the club’s spell without a manager, last Christmas.

“Coaching certainly opens your eyes and ears,” he said, “I take a lot of information in and I try to use all the best bits that I’ve learnt from managers and people that have coached me throughout my career.  It’s no secret that it’s an area of great interest to me and coaching would allow me to stay in the game I love when I finally decide to call it a day on the playing side.”

“Ultimately a successful coach is judged by the results he or she produces and this comes down to the planning, preparation and work carried out on the pitch. I have coached at Fulham and at Spurs and you do recognise quite quickly that there is an art involved in getting your message across to the players and relaying the small things you have learnt.”

Slavisa Jokanovic is a keen admirer of Parker’s leadership qualities, and there is every chance that the Fulham head coach will have a place for the Englishman once he playing days are over. Having offered the 36-year-old a contract extension last May, Jokanovic clearly recognises his importance to the club, be it as a player or a coach. Speaking to Get West London earlier this season, he is quoted as saying:

“In the spring, when I’ll be thinking about Scott Parker for next season or not and it’s a question of when he wants to finish. He’s a quality man and in front of him is his decision. He can play for a few years and he loves the beautiful game. I don’t know what he’ll do when he ends his playing career whether it will be coach or not but he’ll be involved in the club 100 per cent.”

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Nonetheless, despite working towards his badges and a potential future in coaching, Parker appears reluctant to cut short his career early, in making the transition from player to backroom staff. As he previously alluded to, the former West Ham man stills sees himself very much as valued member of the playing squad, and there is no doubt that he remains a priceless asset to Jokanovic in this capacity. When asked if he will soon consider making the move upstairs, he responded with the following:

“I try not to give this too much thought which might seem a strange thing to say given that I’ve been taking my badges but whilst I’m still playing and enjoying it, I try to apply all of my concentration to my physical preparation and to the games which coincidentally come thick and fast so you don’t really get too much time to think about anything else. I’m the type of person that doesn’t want to attempt things at half measure, I want to be able to say that I’m well prepared and can coach to the best of my ability and I’m sure when the time finally comes, I will switch my attention but as I say, right now I enjoy playing.”

At 36 years of age, and with just one year left on his current contract at Fulham, the long-term future is perhaps uncertain for the 2011 Football Writers’ Player of the Year. For now, Parker’s focus is evidently the London outfit’s battle for promotion back to the Premier League. However, questions regarding the next step in his career are going to continue being asked.

Clearly enjoying his football under Cottagers boss Slaviša Jokanovic, he still has an important role to play, not least for the experience his brings. Be it next summer, or in two years time, Parker will retire as one of the nation’s most individually decorated players. Having won the hearts of thousands throughout a career spanning just shy of two decades, his industrious playing style has made him a cult hero for both club and country.

Chris is the founder of The Boot Room. He is a Swindon Town supporter, having lived in Wiltshire for most of his years. His work has also featured on Squawka, Bleacher Report and Eurosport.

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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