Bodø/Glimt “mestered” Eliteserien, clinching title with five games left
First gold for B/G in 104 years of existence, a first for a club from northern Norway
JO CHRISTIAN WELDINGH
For the first time in the history of Norwegian soccer, Bodø/Glimt has won the Eliteserien title after beating Strømsgodset 2-1in the 25th round Nov. 22. They did not just take home the title, they won with record numbers. With five games left to play, the team is only three points away from Molde’s record of 71 points in a full season from 2014. The victory gave Bodø/Glimt 22 wins, two draws and one loss with an 18-point lead over second-place Molde. Not only did they make team history, but they are the first club from northern Norway to capture gold.
The game against Strømsgodset was not their best. Bodø/Glimt were missing several key players. Brede Moe was out with an injury, while Marius Lode and Patrick Berg were quarantined in a hotel in Oslo after a coronavirus outbreak hit the national team.Kasper Junker scored in the fourth minute, Philip Zinckernagel in the 12th. After an even game with chances at both ends of the pitch, they could celebrate both a victory and the league title. After placing second four times since 1977, the title was finally theirs—after 104 title-less years.
The team from Bodø/Glimt finished second last year and having lost several key players during the winter break, most experts saw them as underdogs heading into this year’s delayed version of Eliteserien. Bodø/Glimt, however, were outwardly optimistic all pre-season, saying they liked their chances after training well all winter.
It took opening the season by winning 10 consecutive league games and building a five-point lead in the league, for people and the media to start seeing them as serious title contenders. When they followed up by winning eight out of the next 10 games (two draws) Bodø/Glimt had a 10-point lead over runner-up Molde, their first ever league title started to seem inevitable. Bodø/Glimt’s first and only loss came in round 21 when they lost 4-2 to Molde.
Bodø/Glimt has not only won their games, but they have also played some of the best soccer the Norwegian league has ever seen. Scoring 85 goals in 25 games (3.4 per contest) says it all, and they have scored at least two goals in every single game. They had a phenomenal 57-goal differential following the clinching match. Experts have started comparing them to the legendary Rosenborg teams, coached by Nils Arne Eggen, who won 13 consecutive league titles in the 1990s and 2000s.Four players reached double figures in goals: Junker with 19 and four assists, Zinckernagel with 15 and 16 servers, Jens Hauge with 14 and 10 assists before signing with AC Milan, and Ulrik Saltnes with 11 tallies and 11 helpers.
“We will enjoy this feeling. It has been a unique experience. I feel we have moved boundaries, not only for ourselves, but for Norwegian soccer,” captain Saltnes said when the title was secured.
A lot of the credit goes to coach Kjetil Knutsen, a relatively unknown coach, even in Norway, who has made a team of seemingly average players (at least when the season started) into Norway’s best soccer team by far. Knutsen has been heavily linked to FC Copenhagen, who sacked their coach, Norwegian Ståle Solbakken, earlier this fall.
“This is a big day, and I’m touched. This is a club that has been working together and have been moving in the same direction for a long, long time,” Knutsen told Dagbladet after the clincher.
Upon returning to Bodø/Glimt the next morning, the team boarded a double-decker bus and rode through town feted by thousands of supporters, old and young alike. Flares were set off. Yellow and black Bodø/Glimt flags and scarves were waved. Children held home-made signs. The bus reached City Hall and the champs were honored inside by Mayor Ida Maria Pinnerød and other officials.
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 25, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.