Scandinavian Saints: Six examples for Hojbjerg after signing for Southampton
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | July 14, 2016
Highly-rated Denmark midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg became Claude Puel’s first signing as Southampton boss after the Saints paid a reported £12.8m to bring him from Bayern Munich this week.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) July 11, 2016
Given the recent departures of star striking duo Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle from St Mary’s, hot property Hojbjerg certainly counts as a coup capture for a club that is better known for selling talent that recruiting it.
Hojbjerg, who has penned a five-year deal with Southampton, is far from the first Scandinavian star to have strutted his stuff on the south coast.
Six former Saints from Scandinavia
Will this Danish deal make Saints more likely to kick on and finish in the top four (10/1 chance with Coral), or could they struggle and run the risk of relegation (20/1)? Only time will tell.
Our football experts have delved into the archives and sourced six examples of Scandinavians for Hojbjerg to be aware of as he begins his Premier League career with Southampton.
Who features and did we miss anyone? Here’s a hint Saints fans; most of our picks played some part in the 2003 FA Cup final. Read on to discover and have your say in the comments below.
Sweden’s most-capped player Svensson spent four years on the south coast (2001-05), scoring 10 Premier League goals from central midfield before Southampton suffered relegation. He then returned to Elfsborg, giving another decade of service before hanging up his boots.
Disputing the title of ‘the Swedish David Beckham’ with ex-Arsenal man Freddie Ljungberg, Svensson had a decent free-kick in his locker and is perhaps the closest of Hojbjerg’s Scandinavian forebears in style at Saints.
Some debate rages as to whether or not Finland is part of the Scandinavia region, but for the purposes of this and because we get to include a great goalie we’re counting it.
Recruited from Hearts during the summer of 2002 after excelling in Edinburgh, Niemi kept 23 clean sheets during his three top-flight campaigns at Southampton.
Voted Saints’ Player of the Year in 2004, Niemi remained on the books despite relegation the following year, and his excellent Championship form saw Fulham come in for him in January 2006.
How can Hojbjerg learn from a goalkeeper’s example we hear you ask? Well should he show the dedication and ability to step up to this level as Niemi did, then he’ll go far.
If Hojbjerg serves as long and loyally as Norway centre back Lundekvam, albeit without the off-field controversy and demons, then he is likely to have his name chanted around St Mary’s for many years to come.
Among the all-time top 10 appearance makers for Southampton, Lundekvam spent a dozen years (1996-2008) with Saints, turning out in 413 competitive matches and was the recipient of the 2006 Player of the Year award.
Staying with Norwegians, striker and left winger Ostenstad made a big impact the first time he completed 90 minutes in a Southampton shirt, scoring twice in a 6-3 romp over Manchester United in October 1996. He also netted in the return fixture later that season at Old Trafford.
If only Ostenstad could’ve maintained that sort of form; his overall approximate strike rate of 30 per cent with 28 goals in 96 Premier League outings reflects how he didn’t quite realise his potential.
Despite getting double figures in his first couple of campaigns with Saints, he was very much Graeme Souness’ signing and successor Dave Jones moved him on to Blackburn Rovers in 1999 where Ostenstad was reunited with the Scottish boss in the old First Division.
What Hojbjerg needs to take from this is to try and produce consistently, and not just turn up with performances in big games.
Versatile player Tessem debuted at right back after arriving in 1999, but played more often as a midfielder, on the wing and support striker during his six seasons with Southampton.
Tessem scored a dozen Premier League goals in over 100 outings, and half of those strikes came against Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton, so he was the scourge of some of today’s top teams.
While Hojbjerg will probably be looking to make a role in the middle of the park his own at St Mary’s, he could yet develop into something different as he’s just 20 years of age and has played down the right-hand side before. That sense of versatility for the cause is what he needs to take from Tessem.
A £2m transfer from Troyes in 2002, injuries wrecked the career of this Svensson. Southampton stood by the popular Swede during his nightmares on the treatment table.
Seven years to the day he signed for Saints, Svensson had to announce his retirement because of knee problems, and Hojbjerg will hope to avoid experiencing similar struggles.