Americans in Tippeligaen: Meet Alex DeJohn, defender for Start

Photo: Erik André Ingebrigtsen / IK Start Alex DeJohn has high goals for scoring goals. His soccer career has taken him from New Jersey to Finland, and now to Start in Kristiansand.

Photo: Erik André Ingebrigtsen / IK Start
Alex DeJohn has high goals for scoring goals. His soccer career has taken him from New Jersey to Finland, and now to Start in Kristiansand.

Molly Jones
Norwegian American Weekly

American soccer player Alex DeJohn got his foot in the European soccer scene when he began his professional career in Finland. Now the 24-year-old defender from New Jersey plays for Start, the Norwegian Tippeligaen team located in Kristiansand. Here he shares with us his thoughts on living and competing in Norway.

Molly Jones: Can you tell me a bit about your background in soccer? What lead you to playing for IK Start in Norway?

Alex DeJohn: I’ve been playing soccer all my life. I attended Old Dominion University for four years where I played soccer. After leaving Old Dominion, I got drafted to the MLS team New England Revolution. I was training with them for about a month and didn’t wind up signing a contract, so I thought I would try my luck in Europe. I wound up signing in Finland for EIF in the second division for one year. After that I signed a one-year contract for a top division club in Finland called TPS. After TPS I signed here for IK Start for two years.

MJ: How is playing soccer in Norway different than in the U.S.? Do you feel the game itself is played any differently?

AD: The playing styles in the U.S. and Norway are very different. I feel in the U.S. it’s more fast and physical, meanwhile in Norway it’s more technical and tactical.

Photo: Erik André Ingebrigtsen / IK Start

Photo: Erik André Ingebrigtsen / IK Start

MJ: You have also played professionally in Finland. How did that experience compare with playing in Norway?

AD: Finland was a very good stepping stone for me to get my feet in the door in Europe. There are some really good teams and players in Finland; I just think the overall quality in Norway is better. Also the culture around soccer is much better in Norway than in Finland.

MJ: What was it like to join the Norwegian club? Did the language and differing culture make it more challenging?

AD: Joining IK Start was an easy adjustment to make. The players were very welcoming and nice. Everyone here speaks very good English, so communicating and talking with the guys is very easy.

MJ: What’s been your favorite experience as a defender for Start?

AD: My favorite experience as a defender for Start was definitely playing in the relegation playoffs against Jerv. They are a local team so there was a lot of build up and an exciting atmosphere around both games. The home game was awesome, sold-out crowd, and the supporters were great. Also scoring the third goal was an amazing feeling.

MJ: What do you enjoy about living in Norway? How does it compare with your expectations of the country?

AD: Norway is a beautiful country. I really enjoy the nature and outdoors here. I like how slow paced everything is; people take their time and enjoy life. Meanwhile in the States, I feel like everything is always on the go and so fast paced, so that’s why I really enjoy the slow pace.

MJ: What do you miss most about the U.S.?

AD: What I miss the most about the U.S. is definitely my friends and family. I have an awesome group of friends and a very loving family, so it is a bit difficult to be away all the time. Other than them, I miss a lot of the foods.

MJ: What are your goals for the future of your career?

AD: I like to keep my goals high, and I want to play at the highest level possible. I really enjoy Europe, so I would like to play here for a couple more years then go back to the States and finish my career there.

This article originally appeared in the April 8, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.