Roy Hodgson’s first foray into the transfer market in January saw the arrival of additional defensive recruits and, in the intimidating form of Brede Hangeland, the Whites have a colossus amongst their ranks. Born in Texas, but a proud Norwegian, Brede hopes to renew a good working relationship with the man who managed him at Viking FK in Norway, and play a part in keeping Fulham in the Premier League this season, as he explained after one of his training sessions at Motspur Park last week…
Welcome to Fulham, Brede. It’s early days yet, but how are you settling in?
I have been welcomed really well by everyone and I have enjoyed the sessions that I have been involved with so far. I’m still in a hotel at the moment, so there are still a few things to sort out, but that’s always the way. It’s a great club with a lot of history and everything is perfect for me, except where we are in the table and I hope I can play a part in changing that.
Do you have friends over here already in London or at other Premier League clubs?
I know all the other Norwegian players playing in the Premier League. There’s Gamst Pedersen at Blackburn, Riise at Liverpool and John Carew at Aston Villa. I have spoken to all of them since moving here and I also know a few people around London as well, so it won’t be a problem for me to settle in.
For how long has it been an ambition of yours to play in the Premier League?
Growing up in Norway, all the people that are interested in football primarily follow the Premier League and I was no different. To be able to come and play in the Premier League has been an ambition of mine for a long time, so it is of course a great move for me and a big highlight in my career so far.
Unfortunately it’s straight in at the deep end with a relegation battle to fight. Is that challenge part of what attracted you to the Club?
I played with Niclas Jensen at FC Copenhagen and he had nothing but good things to say about the Club. I know the manager from my time at Viking, and that is always an important thing. He is an excellent manager and one I enjoyed working under. Most of all, the opportunity to play in the Premier League and live in a great city like London made the choice easy for me.
You’ve got more experience than any of the Fulham squad of working with Roy Hodgson. What made you so you keen to work with him again?
When I worked with him in Norway we were in a similar situation to the one that Fulham find themselves in now and he did a really good job in turning fortunes around. He organised the team well, got us working hard for each other and we managed to save our position in the top league for the following season; let’s hope he can do it again with Fulham. It’s always an advantage when you come to a new club and you know the manager as he knows your game, your strengths and you also know his qualities and feel good about working for him.
Why should Fulham fans be confident he is the right man to save us from relegation?
From my point of view he is just a very good manager, he knows the game very well and he knows what it takes to get the best from players and to get points on the board when it seems most unlikely.
What would you say your strengths as a player are? What will you bring to the Fulham team?
It’s always hard to explain your own strengths, but I would think among my attributes is the fact that I am big physically which will help in the challenges against strikers in this league. I like to think that my positional play is good and I always work really hard to do my best and try to encourage my team-mates to do the same… A team player I would say.
With Eddie Johnson joining recently, Fulham now have five American players. You may be Norwegian, but you too were also born in Texas. What is the story?
It came about because my father works for a Norwegian oil company in Houston, which is the oil capital of the United States. We were there for a short period in 1980/81, which is when I was born and then we went back home, so obviously I don’t remember too much about my time there!