Tottenham start their Europa League group stage with a home game against Tromso IL from Norway. This is only the second occasion that Spurs have met Norwegian opponents in a European competition. There are, however, further links between Tottenham and Norway.
Tottenham have many supporters in Norway and in the 1990s Spurs were frequent visitors as part of their preseason preparations. Their first visit to Norway was in May, 1977 for an end of season tour which involved two games against Stord and Sogndal. Spurs scored 11 goals in the two games at the end of a traumatic season which had seen them relegated to the 2nd Division. They returned to Norway the following summer after winning promotion and played two games before travelling on to Sweden for a final match. This time they lost the opening game by three goals against Hamar but won the next game against Kvik Halden by two goals.
In 1984 the preseason matches took them to Sweden for two games followed by a match against Viking of Norway which they won 1 – 0. From 1989 through to 1997 Spurs played in Norway in six seasons as part of their preseason schedule.
Tottenham v Lyn Oslo
The only other occasion that a team from Norway has played at White Hart Lane in a European competition was in September, 1972 in a 2nd leg match in the UEFA Cup. Spurs, as holders of the trophy, were drawn against Lyn Oslo in the 1st round. After the 1st leg in Norway a fortnight earlier, Spurs had a three goal advantage and were to ensure their progress to the next round by scoring a further six goals at White Hart Lane.
27th September, 1972 v Lyn Oslo Won 6 – 0 Chivers (3), Pearce, Coates (2)
Team: Jennings; Kinnear, Knowles; Pratt (Holder), England, Beal (Naylor); Gilzean, Perryman, Chivers, Pearce, Coates
As can be seen from the team, even with a three goal lead, Bill Nicholson sent out a full strength side for the home leg. The only changes from the team which had won the trophy the previous season was the inclusion of John Pratt for Alan Mullery who had been transferred to Fulham and Jimmy Pearce in place of the injured Martin Peters.
Martin Chivers who had scored twice in Oslo added a further three goals, setting Spurs on their way to victory with their two first half goals. The first came after 20 minutes when he scored from close in after the goalkeeper had parried a shot by Alan Gilzean. He headed the second after 33 minutes from a cross by John Pratt. Early in the second half, Ralph Coates scored after good work by Gilzean and five minutes later Jimmy Pearce added the fourth. On 71 minutes Chivers scored his third and with eight minutes to play Coates completed the rout for a 12 – 3 aggregate win.
Spurs Who Came from Norway
Erik Thorstvedt joined Spurs from IFK Gothenburg in December, 1988 for £400,000. He had been on trial at White Hart Lane four years earlier and although he was Norway’s first choice goalkeeper, Tottenham failed to obtain a work permit for him. He went to play in Germany and then had two years in Sweden. He became a big favourite at Tottenham even after making a blunder for the winning goal in his ‘live’ televised debut against Nottingham Forest the following January. He was in the 1991 FA Cup winning team and made 218 League appearances for Spurs before retiring in 1996 with a back injury.
Steffan Iversen signed for Spurs in December, 1996 for £2.5m from Rosenborg. He was part of the Worthington Cup winning team of 1999, scoring the semi-final goal at Wimbledon to secure Tottenham’s place in the Final. He scored 41 goals in 138 League appearances for Spurs and it was his powerful run and centre late in the Final against Leicester City which created the goal for Allan Nielsen. One of his best Spurs’ performances was at Sunderland when he scored a hat-trick in a 4 – 0 win in March, 1996. He moved from Spurs to Wolves in 2003 after seven years at White Hart Lane and spent a season at Molineux before returning to Norway. In 2011-12 he returned to England for a year with Crystal Palace.
Oyvind Leonhardsen spent three seasons with Spurs having had five years in English football – three with Wimbledon and two with Liverpool. He was signed by George Graham for £3m in the summer of 1999. He was a hard working midfielder and made 54 League appearances, scoring 7 goals. He joined Aston Villa on a free transfer in 2002. He made 86 appearances for Norway.
Espen Baardsen was born in America but qualified to play for Norway as his parents were Norwegian. Spurs signed him from the San Francisco United All Blacks in 1996. He made his debut in goal against Liverpool at Anfield in the spring of 1997. He made 23 League appearances but never held down a regular place in the team even though he impressed in his limited appearances, including a scoreless at Arsenal. He was in the squad for the League Cup Final win in 1999 having played in earlier rounds. In 2000 he left Spurs for Watford in search of first team football where he made over 40 appearances in two seasons. He then moved to Everton but his only appearance was against Spurs when he conceded 4 goals in a 7-goal thriller at White Hart Lane. He retired from football at the age of 25 having lost interest in the game.
Frode Grodas was a Norwegian international goalkeeper who signed for Spurs from Chelsea in 1998 as cover but never made any appearances in the first team. He then moved to Germany with Schalke 04.
He Played in Norway
In the late 1970s and early 1980s Spurs sent young players on loan to clubs in Europe to widen their experience. Paul Miller spent seven months in Norway with Skeid Oslo from March to October, 1978. He benefited greatly from the experience of playing during their League season and made his Tottenham debut the following April.
As Tottenham renew acquaintances with Norway they will be looking to start off their Europa League group stage with a win to avoid unnecessary pressure for results later in the competition.