Leicester City are on a great run in the Premier League and in the Final of the FA Cup, special days for one of Leicester City’s former players, Kjetil Osvold. The only Norwegian to have played for The Foxes, we met up with him as he tells his story in an exclusive talk
Growing up in the area of Aalesund, Kjetil made an early senior debut with local club Skarbøvik, and at that time, Manchester City was allready the team of his dreams, starting his devoted support after watching the 1970 League Cup final v. West Bromwich. In these years of the early 70’s, he also remembers the great games of Frank Worthington and Keith Weller, and regards Leicester City as his second favorite team in England.
Kjetil made the following statement on his facebook page when the news of Frank Worthington’s death was announced,
“RIP Frank Worthington! One of my biggest heroes in English foootball has died) He (together with Keith Weller) was the reason why I chose Leicester City as my 2nd favorite team. A big personality, magnificant player and entertaining character to watch”
As he watched his games on telly, he also continued to practise on his own game and his talent was early spotted by scouts and as a teenager making a move to Start in Kristiansand. During his days in the south of the country he also made his full debut for Norway.
During his years in the national team, from 1984 to 1989, adding up 37 full caps, scoring 3 goals for Norway. One great highlight was of course to play against Argentina in a friendly just weeks before the 1986 World Cup, scoring the 1-0 winner, and also fondly remembered for his famous nutmeg on Diego Maradona.
At this time Ketil was with Lillestrom in the top flight and often linked with bigger clubs abroad, but he didn’t make his move before the call from England appeared. The Argentina game might have alerted a certain Brian Clough who had set his eyes on the Norwegian , making a move for his signature later that year. The transfer to Nottingham Forest was “big news”, and seen as a highlight of Kjetil’s career.
His stay at Forest was short, but described as exciting, spending two years at City Ground, before making a new move, this time to Djurgården in Stockholm, Sweden. Before leaving England he made his unique act in life, signing on loan for Leicester City, still 34 years later, the only Norwegian to have played for this football club.
In his own words he describes the move to Leicester in the following way,
“Leicester and Sheffield United had come in for me in December 1987, my teammate and good friend Hans Segers was allready with The Blades. Hans told me that their manager at the time Billy McEwan had asked about after he had seen me play in the Forest reserves, Hans would have liked me to join him at Sheffield United. “Clough told me of both clubs interest and he said it was up to me to decide, but asked for his advice and he said Leicester, so I went there.”
The loan move could have been better when it came to results, as he describes the time at Leicester City with a bit of “bitter sweet” with a draw and three defeats counted before returning to Nottingham Forest. Kjetil describes his stay as a bit dramatic, seeing Bryan Hamilton, who signed him, being sacked and also playing under Peter Morris while at Filbert Street, but knew when David Pleat arrived that he would not be part of any future as he had other ideas.
Despite what happened, Kjetil still have fond memories of his time at the club, and this story, in his own words, illustrates it perfectly,
“This is a good story from my loan spell at Leicester in December 1987, at home at Filbert Street v. Middlesbrough, my first game, but unfortunately the 0-0 draw did see Bryan Hamilton sacked. The next game was away to Oldham, on artificial turf. We always met up at Filbert Street, changed, drow down to Belvoir Drive, but it was a rebuild on at the time, so no showers at that place. I knew the route, drow myself, but on this morning we were going to train at another place on an artificial turf, was asked; «Ossie, do you know the way?» «No!» «Come with us.» Drow with two of the experienced players, after a few minutes the car stopped, I couldn’t see no training ground, but they said, come with us, We just went into a small Coffee Shop, «Are you hungry Ossie?» «No!», they ordered themselves a Bacon Sandwich, ate it fast, into the car, and after about 10 minutes we were at the training ground. After training, about five minutes driving, I said «Now I’m hungry, can we stop at the same Coffee Shop?» They looked at each other and at me. «Are you serious?» «No!» We all laughed and I felt at home.”
Kjetil Osvold played in an experienced Leicester City side and looking at the line-up you had players such as Robbie James, Gary McAllister, Mike Newell and Steve Walsh among those. Being asked about him seeing some of them afterwards, Kjetil says, “Did speak with Gary McAllister in front of a World Cup qualifier in Oslo in 1988, met him out on the Ulleval turf”.Embed from Getty Images
Kjetil often writes on his facebook page about great times at Nottingham Forest and fondly remembers Brian Clough, and what he said, and how he made his management so unique.
Kjetil says, “At times, as you all know, I believe I have a good (?) story from my career as a footballer, so on this Friday evening, another one from my days at Nottingham Forest: Normally we got the whistle signal at 10.00, it was the same for the reserves and the apprentices, then we walked down to City Ground, along the River Trent, to the training ground, takes 10 minutes. This time it was no signal 10.00, and about 30 minutes later one from the coaching staff came into the dressing room telling us all it was live cricket on telly, and that it was no training before the cricket game was over, Clough was a passionate fan of cricket, and if anyone would like to watch the game they could all come into the “trophy room” to watch. A few, three or four, went into watch, as a Norwegian you don’t really now this game at all, so I had no interest. 11.00 o’clock Clough entered the dressing room, “What’s up lads”, looked at Neil Webb, said: “Webbie, not interested in cricket? Webbie: “No Boss!” Clough: «Do as you like lads, but there will be no training before the cricket is finished!” the session happened but was arranged a bit later than normal.
Kjetil also had a spell in Greece with PAOK before moving back to Norway and Lillestrom, later making a last move to Skeid, before he retired from the game as a player.
Talking to Kjetil Osvold and listening, he often “goes back” and memorize good stories from his past as a player, and gives his support to Manchester City and Leicester City, not to overlook his fondness of Nottingham Forest, showing respect and admiration of the game he professionally appeared in, and still loves for all those reasons.
Few can imagine, you have scored the winning goal against a World Cup winner to be, against the icon Diego Maradona. Been playing in a team managed by Brian Clough and for a Norwegian also had Tom Lund as his coach, must be a treble few can match.
Among Kjetil’s generation of players you have the likes of Erik Thorstvedt, Rune Bratseth and Jorn Andersen who all where part of the national team in the pre period of Egil “Drillo” Olsen, and by many described as individuals with rare skills and boldness that in a way set the standards of those coming a few years later, showing results that in single games stood out as extraordinary.
Later in life Kjetil has been involved in football as an agent, scout, advisory and in marketing capacities. Great fun having this chat, a down to earth fellow with good and in depth reflections on football in general and also fondly remembering his short but hectic period at Leicester City FC.