"If you have a church, a road junction, your local co-op and a football field, then you have a team."
- Åge Hareide

Full name Åge Fridtjof Hareide. Norwegian football player and coach.

Åge Hareide was born September 23, 1953 in Hareid in Norway. As every other youngster in rural Norway he practically grew up on the local football pitch. His first football match was in 1962, only nine years old. The local team of 12-14 year olds was scheduled to play an away match against neighbour village Skarbøvik, and as the boat was about to leave they were one boy short. The older boys considered him good enough to join, so he was handed a much too big jersey and played the match as left wing in running shoes.

In 1969 he got his debut for Hødd in a 1-0 win against Strømsgodset in the Norwegian premier division. Seven years later he became a defender for Molde FK, a stay that lasted until 1981.

While playing for Molde he was selected to play national matches, an honour he was given 50 times before he retired. He scored five goals while playing for Norway, and was on the field for the duration of the legendary win against England, September 9, 1981.

After leaving Molde FK in October 1981, Hareide transfered to English club Manchester City for 10,000 pounds. His debut on Maine Road came as a substitute in a draw against Nottingham Forest FC, October 24, 1981, but his career in Manchester was to last less than two years and 17 regular matches - only nine of them in the starting lineup. Mid-season 1982 he was considered surplus and loaned to Norwich City. August 1983 he transfered permanently. A curious fact about his unsuccessful stint with Manchester City is that he wore five different numbered shirts as a defender. I guess back in 1981 a shirt was just a shirt and a number was just a number, unlike today.

Professional football players were few and far between in Norway in 1981, and pros playing for foreign clubs were even rarer. Together with Einar Jan Aas, Åge Hareide was the among the first Norwegians to play for an English team, belonging to a select handful of men that were considered good enough to warrant interest from foreign big-time clubs.

Things went much better on Carrow Road in Norwich, a period Hareide has described as "one of the happiest spells of my career." A cab driver in Norwich in 1998 - upon my inquiry - still remembered the tall, blonde Norwegian.

"Oh yeah. Oggy. He was good."

Oggy was famous for being tougher than most on the pitch. A tackle with Leeds' Andy Gray had Hareide off to the dentist for an extensive rebuild. In addition to an all-new set of teeth, he's got a long row of stitches both in the head and on the body. The official numbers are 20 and 25 respectively, but I haven't seen them up close and can't vouch for that information.

Playing for English clubs in the early eighties was a far cry from today's sporting icon lifestyle. In an interview with Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet he said: "for warmups we sat on a heating radiator or in the bathtub before taking a shot of brandy. At halftime we had another one."

Despite his his 54 successful appearances and three goals for the Canaries, he left for Norway in 1984 to manage a furniture factory and be a player-coach for Molde FK. His last match as a player was in the 1987 season's final game, losing the league title to Moss FK, a team coached by Nils Arne Eggen. On the opposite side of the field, Einar Jan Aas played his last football match.

Hareide stayed in Molde until October 1997 when he left the club for personal reasons. Although it's an official secret among journalists what those personal reasons were, he's a well liked and respected guy in football circles. In any case, the nineties were dominated by the rivalry between Molde FK and the other big team, Rosenborg. Hareide and Rosenborg's coach Nils Arne Eggen had crossed paths before, and were now quarreling about football regularly in the big newspapers. Ironically enough, in 1976 when Åge Hareide got his national debut, Norway's coach was Nils Arne Eggen. Just after the season's end in 2002, they were to cross paths once again as Hareide took over as Rosenborg coach when Eggen retired.

While coaching Molde, he was responsible for selling one of the team's jewels to Manchester United; Ole Gunnar Solskjær. I bet Alex Ferguson is quite happy to have paid a measly £1.5 million in transfer fee for the guy.

During most of the nineties, Hareide was employed as a TV commentator for TV3, reporting from international as well as UEFA Champions League matches. This he did alongside Knut Torbjørn Eggen, another football coach and son of Nils Arne Eggen.

In 1998 he took the job as head coach for Swedish team Helsingborg, helping them win both the Allsvenskan and the cup. Next was Copenhagen club Brøndby IF. The following two seasons Brøndby took second place in the Danish league. In April 2002 he was officially sacked after a run of poor results, but the real reason was later revealed to be his wife's serious illness. He was replaced by danish football icon Michael Laudrup. The last time Åge Hareide was upped by Michael Laudrup was on a wet and cold Ullevaal Stadion in October 1985, unsuccessfully trying to defend Norway against big brother Laudrup's relentless raids. Norway lost 1-5, a loss - as some would say - mostly due to Åge Hareide and Michael Laudrup. That particular match more or less secured Denmark's spot in the 1986 World Cup.

Next on the coaching list was Norwegian Rosenborg BK. He took over after Nils Arne Eggen in October 2002, just after the final game of the season. Under his supervision in the 2003 season, Rosenborg won The Double; their 18th premier league title (the 11th consecutive) and ninth FA Cup.

Åge Hareide took over Norway's national team in January 2004 after Nils Johan Semb, starting with a crushing 3-0 win over Sweden.

Quote taken from an interview in Dagbladet Magasinet, January 17, 2004.

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