ADVENT CALENDAR DAY 3: VEGARD HEGGEM INTERVIEW

ADVENT CALENDAR DAY 3: VEGARD HEGGEM INTERVIEW

December 3rd: Vegard Heggem scored three times in his 65 appearances for Liverpool, and the former right-back answered some of Ste Hoare’s questions for the third piece in our TBT Advent Calendar.

When I was a young kid, like most people my age growing up in Liverpool, I was football mad. Whether you were a Red or Blue, football was pretty much all you cared about. When I became old enough, I joined my school team and a local Sunday league side and I loved every second of playing for both. I played at right back for both teams, so automatically I was a big fan of any Liverpool right back. I started out as a huge Rob Jones fan, and when Rob left, I became a big fan of another injury-plagued right back, Vegard Heggem.

The Norwegian right back was the only signing made by Liverpool during the period where the club had joint-managers in Roy Evans and Gerrard Houllier. He joined Liverpool from Rosenborg for £3.5m and was a consistent performer for Liverpool during his time at the club. Unfortunately, a recurring hamstring injury meant that Heggem couldn’t quite live up to the expectations placed upon him after a very good start to his Liverpool career.

Vegard only played 65 games for Liverpool, but he made an impression on me, and while most people my age had somebody like Robbie Folwer as their childhood hero, mine was Heggem. I loved how he got up and down the right-hand side all game, and how he looked comfortable on the ball at all times. Alas, like other Liverpool full-backs, both before and after him, Vegard suffered badly with injuries and didn’t make the impression at the club that his ability justified.

Nowadays Vegard spends his time managing his own salmon fishing lodge, as well as having a role on the Rosenborg board. Vegard kindly broke away from his busy schedule to give us an exclusive interview about his time at Liverpool and his thoughts on the job Brendan Rodgers is doing:

1. You were the only player brought to Liverpool when Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier were joint-managers in 1998. Was it strange for you to join a club with two men in charge?

“It was unusual, but for me the most important thing was that both of them were eager me to sign.”

2. You joined Stig Bjørnebye, Bjorn Tore Kvarme and Oyvind Leonhardsen at the club to make a quartet of Norweigens, did this have any influence on you signing?

“No, that didn’t make any difference. I would of course have signed for LFC even if I was to be the only player from Norway or Scandinavia.“

3. You have done something so many people have dreamed of; scoring for Liverpool. You scored a wonder solo goal at Anfield against Bradford on 1 November 1999, what do you remember of the goal and how you felt at the time?

“I remember all of my 3 goals very well, the one against Bradford being special as it was in front of the Kop. It was a good break by myself and Vladimir Smicer. I was keen to improve having come off the bench, and fancied my chances to go all the way when I received the ball from Vladi in the box. A good memory!“

4. Full backs are asked to do so much in terms of both attack and defence. How difficult a position is it to play and what are they key attributes needed to be a successful full back?

“As a full back you are often involved in the game, and I enjoyed this position very much. During the 90′s the offensive full back came more and more in to fashion, and that suited my style of play. Pace is an important attribute, as you want to feel confident when wingers run at you, and you also need pace to beat your man to get in a position to deliver crosses.“

5. Since retiring, you’ve been a keen fan of Liverpool. Is it more difficult being a fan knowing you can’t affect what’s happening on the pitch?

“Playing for Liverpool was a fantastic era for me and a proud memory. I quickly came to terms that a new era started for me when I hung up my boots. I thoroughly enjoy my present role as merely a supporter and spectator.“

6. I’d like to ask you about the current Liverpool side if possible; what are your thoughts on the job Brendan Rodgers has done so far as manager?

“I think Brendan Rodgers has taken the club forward, and particularly this season we’re seeing some brilliant effective and precise attacking football. It also looks like Rodgers has the qualities to motivate and develop even further some of the great talents at the club, most notably Suarez, Sturridge and Coutinho.“

7. What is your opinion on Liverpool’s current right-back Glen Johnson?

“I think he is a great full back, and definitely one of the best in Premier League. I’m always worried when he’s not in the starting line-up.“

8. Finally, what did it mean for you to play for Liverpool?

“As I’ve already mentioned, it is a proud memory for me. I am truly grateful for the 5 years I got to spend at the club and in the city. I will always enjoy traveling back to watch Liverpool play at Anfield and to visit the city.“

I’d like to thank Vegard for taking the time to answer my questions.

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