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Shoulder-to-shoulder with giants – Roar Strand

December 1, 2010

The Champions League 100 club is quite an elite club to be a part of. Only 19 players have appeared in a century of games in Europe’s premier competition and as you read through the list of stars, it read like a who’s who of European football through the nineties and the noughties. Except for one name that when you see it, read it and then read it again still doesn’t look quite right. In amongst the Raúls, the Oliver Kahns, and the Clarence Seedorfs of the choice list nestles the 40 year-old midfielder Roar Strand.

Barely known outside of his home country, the tenacious midfielder has but for the 1993 season spent his entire career with the undisputed kings of Norwegian football, Rosenberg. Commonly a central midfielder, Strand’s willingness to do a job for his club has seen him deployed as a wing-back and winger at times.

Having debuted for Rosenberg during the 1989 Norwegian domestic season, Strand debuted in Europe on September 13th 1989. Aged just 19, as he ran onto the pitch as a substitute in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup against KV Mechelen he can’t have imagined that he would go on to claim practically every record going in Norwegian football.

Roar Strand has played more games in the Norwegian Premier League than any other, has won the Tippeligaen 16 times and has played 107 times in the UEFA Champions League. His goal scoring record which has seen him score at least once in every season for the last 21 years stands alongside Ryan Giggs’, another Champions League centurion, as the finest and most consistent in Europe.

A one-man engine room at many times for the constant Norwegian Champions, Strand competed and scored against some of the biggest and best in Europe through his career. Having played in away victories at A.C. Milan and Dortmund, he also scored a vital goal when Rosenberg frustrated Arsenal in 2004 with a 1-1 draw; a player like Strand remains unlikely to be repeated.

“I’ve been lucky to have so few injuries. I’ve been lucky to be with a really good team for so many years, I’ve been happy to be there for that many years,” beamed Strand earlier this year, just before Rosenberg embarked on qualifying for this season’s Champions League.

Unfortunately for Strand, the days when Rosenberg were regulars in the group stages of the Champions League are behind us and the majority of Roar’s recent appearances in the competition have been in the qualifying stages. The final year of his career this season, Strand captained the side as they eased past Linfield of Northern Ireland and AIK of Sweden before falling to FC Copenhagen in the final qualifying round.

Roar is sure to go down in the folklore of not just Rosenberg but the game in Norway as well. Not drawn by the potential of higher wages and a higher profile by moving abroad, Strand remained loyal to his team and his club and that in today’s climate will surely go unmatched. With the 2010 domestic season over, Strand bowed out of football at the beginning of November. He was named in the Troillongan squad for their 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Atlético Madrid but did not feature.

Reports that he has taken up a post-football career as a chimney sweep remain unconfirmed.

The full list of players to have played 100 times in the UEFA Champions League, in case you were wondering includes Raúl, Oliver Kahn, Clarence Seedorf, Paul Scholes, Roberto Carlos, Andriy Shevchenko, Paolo Maldini, David Beckham, Luís Figo, Ryan Giggs, Thierry Henry, Gary Neville, Fernando Morientes, Iker Casillas, Xavi Hernández, Deco, Carles Puyol and Roar Strand.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    December 1, 2010 10:22 pm

    Fantastic player, agree there will never another like him. I even found it difficult to sign him on Football Manager/Champ Man so great was his love for Rosenberg.

  2. December 6, 2010 8:01 pm

    Great piece on a fascinating player. Thanks for writing it up – it may will inspire a piece over at my place.

    Cheers!

    Rob

    http://leftbackinthechangingroom.blogspot.com

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