Joining Manchester United was a bit of a coincidence really, I went over for a training camp to enjoy myself and I think I did well whilst I was there. It was only supposed to be a week but it turned into two weeks and then a month. After that the club offered me a contract, I’d scored a few goals in a few friendly games and that was enough for them to offer me a deal.
It was a huge honour because United were a top side at the time, I was a big United fan too so it was a dream come true for me. I knew I was young and I was going to develop rather than play regularly and knew when I left home it was going to be difficult to breakthrough at Old Trafford.
The likes of Beckham, Neville and Scholes had broken through a few years before, but to train among those kinds of players daily — and players I had posters of on the wall back home in Norway — was special and it was a fantastic experience for me as a player.
It’s still a special moment to look back at when I scored at Old Trafford [against Bury]. I came close to being part of the team on a weekly basis but I was unlucky with a few injuries. They came at exactly the wrong time for me during those years but I still have some amazing memories and I can say I played for one of the biggest clubs in the world – I’m proud of that.
It was a mutual decision for me to move on. You have to start playing first team football and when I turned 21 I decided I had to find regular football to develop. I knew it would be hard in Manchester, so I decided to move back to Norway to start playing games.
Then eight years later I came back. I didn’t expect it myself to ever come back to the Premier League, but I went to Holland [with Groningen] in 2004 and had three and a half good seasons there. The turning point for me was Roy Hodgson. He was my manager in Norway [at Viking] and I had a good relationship with him. When he became manager of Fulham he brought me in and it was a dream to come back.Embed from Getty Images
You always want to play in the Premier League so it was an easy decision. I knew the risk of being relegated was pretty high, but I thought even a half year in the Premier League would be as good as playing in Holland.
I had faith in Roy and in what I could bring, so it made it an easy decision and luckily, we stayed up. It all changed when we played Reading away and won our first away game in something like 18 months, but at half-time at Manchester City we were losing. Our objective was just to go out and win the second half, we did that, we won the game and we never looked back.
From there we kept going and my last game in English football turned out to be a European Cup final. I didn’t think that would be possible when I signed for the club, the main target each year was just to stay up. But we had a great team and we had a united team that worked for each other – it was a good bunch of guys.
We had a good manager too, he knows what to expect from his players and he knew how to get the best out of us. That gave us belief, but nobody ever expected that we would do that well over three or four seasons and beat a team like Juventus.
I did end up playing against Manchester United again. I only came on as a late substitute but it was a good experience to play against them before I left England.