Wednesday, November 12, 2008
So screams the headlines in Norway - it literally translates into "Valerenga are Cup Masters".
Just before traveling to Denver, goalkeeper Troy Perkins and Valerenga claimed the 2008 Norwegian Cup with a resounding 4-1 win against league champions Staebek. In terms of national importance, it's considered bigger than winning the league - the King of Norway presides over the match! We asked Mr. Perkins about the significance of the trophy, and about winning silverware in his first year in Norway.
ussoccer.com: So what's it like shaking hands with the king?
Troy Perkins: "It was very cool. He's a big guy. I can tell my kids in the future the story of how I met the King of Norway."
ussoccer.com: Why is winning this tournament such a big deal in Norway?
TP: "For one, everyone talks about the Cup Final. In addition to the king, all of the dignitaries of Norway turn up for the game. It's not just that you are champions of your league, you are effectively the best team in Norway. For my club, its even more important because of our supporters. We have the biggest fan club in the country, and it means a lot to them."
ussoccer.com: Probably didn't hurt that you played at home...
TP: "It was quite special thing. Ulleval Stadium is not only our home stadium, but the national stadium as well. It helped a lot of us to be a little more relaxed, especially when you have 17,000 of your own supporters behind you."
ussoccer.com: What was the week like leading up to the game?
TP: "We spent the whole week at our sponsor's conference center, which is a 250-year old farm that they have owned for more than 200 years. [Editor's Note: No soccer fields on the farm. They trained at the local club.] We got away from everything, and spent all of our time together as a group. It was a good bonding experience, and a nice atmosphere to be in leading up to game. The night before, we went to a rally set up by our supporters, and there were 4,000 people there crammed under a circus tent."
ussoccer.com: We understand the team was almost late for the game.
TP: "Yeah. We got on the bus and drove to the center of Oslo, and turned onto the main drive leading up to the stadium. All of a sudden, no cars were moving. As it turns out, our supporters march from our old stadium (Bislett) all the way to Ulleval, so traffic was at standstill. We wind up driving amongst our fans for a little bit, and it was just a mass of people. They were led by marching band, and there were thousands of people singing and chanting. I've never seen anything quite like that."
ussoccer.com: Other than shaking hands with the king, what will you remember most about the win?
TP: "First, we stayed on the field for about an hour after the game celebrating with our fans. Then we got on the bus and drove back to the tent from the night before. As we're getting out, there was a line of people lighting flares leading our way inside. The place was completely full. Our supporters have a song for every player, and they sang every one. I'll never forget seeing our team and our fans that excited to win. You see how important it is to them. I haven't seen guys react like that ever in my life. It was really something special."
Posted at 9:13 PM