As (most) of the rest of Europe continues to enjoy their respective domestic seasons, Norway has bid farewell to another campaign. The 2010 season saw Rosenborg crowned Tippeliga champions for the 23rd time, sensationally setting a new record by becoming the first side to win the league without losing a single game. The Troillongan (Troll Kids), may have experienced a decline between 2005 and 2008, but they are back with a bang and dominating Norwegian football once again.
However, the Tippeliga doesn’t just mean Rosenborg. Here are the 12 most impressive performers of 2010’s Norwegian league season:
Anthony Annan (Rosenborg) – 24 years old – Defensive midfielder
Since 2008, Annan has got into the winning groove in the Tippeliga, first with Stabæk and now twice with Rosenborg. The Ghana international is a tough midfielder who possesses great vision and tactical awareness. He won’t quickly forget the 2010 campaign, having reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup with Ghana, then lifting the title with Rosenborg and being voted the Player of the Tournament too. Annan is often compared with Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, although he must still improve his scoring touch, with no goals to his name from four Tippeliga seasons.
Best 2010 Tippeliga performance: 5th May, Rosenborg 2-0 Stabæk
Vadim Demidov (Rosenborg) – 24 years old – Centre back
The son of a former Soviet Union international handball player, Demidov played a key role this season at the heart of a Rosenborg defence which, with just 24 goals conceded in 30 games, was the Tippeliga’s best. The Riga-born player joined the Norwegian giants in 2008 from Hønefoss, originally as a midfielder, but at Rosenborg has been transformed into a ball-playing centre back. Demidov will soon follow his former team-mate Kris Stadsgaard to La Liga however, having recently penned a three-year deal with Real Sociedad.
Best 2010 Tippeliga performance: 26th September, Strømsgodset 1-1 Rosenborg
Serigne Modou Kara (Tromsø) – 21 years old – Defensive midfielder
Kara began his career at the Dimars Football Academy in Saly, Senegal – a youth academy established in 2003 by French duo Patrick Vieira and Bernard Lama. The midfielder joined Tromsø – Europe’s northernmost professional club – last February, forming a strong partnership with local talent Ruben Yttegard Jenssen in the centre of midfield. Since his very first games for the side, Kara, who can also play at the back, has impressed with his sharp marking and tough tackling skills, playing a key role in Tromsø’s third place finish. The Senegalese scored his first goal in Norwegian football on his cup debut against Sortland.
Best 2010 Tippeliga performance: 2nd May, Tromsø 0-0 Rosenborg
Anders Lindegaard (Aalesund) – 26 years old – Goalkeeper
In 2009, Danish international Lindegaard played a vital role in helping Aalesund to win their first ever trophy – the Norwegian Cup. At that time, the talented keeper was on loan from Danish club Odense, where he had failed to make the breakthrough to become the side’s regular keeper. The 26-year-old therefore took the plunge and moved to Aalesund permanently at the end of 2009. Just one year later the keeper has helped the club to a top four finish and is widely considered the Tippeliga’s best number 1. As a result Lindegaard looks to be on his way to Manchester United, with the Premier League side’s goalkeeping coach Eric Steele often seen around the Color Line Stadium before their interest was put on a more formal footing.
Best 2010 Tippeliga performance: 14th March, Aalesund 3-0 Lillestrøm
Harmeet Singh (Valerenga) – 20 years old - Midfielder
One of the most exciting up and coming talents in Norwegian football, Singh enjoyed a superb 2010 campaign playing as a defensive midfielder in Valerenga’s 4-2-3-1 system. The Norway Under-21 international is a top class passer of the ball, and notched 11 assists, the best performance of this season’s Tippeliga. Singh is rightly considered one of the club’s key players, alongside striker “Moa”, centre back Andre Muri and midfielder Kristofer Hæstad. The player’s roots lie in Punjab, the region straddling the border between India and Pakistan.
Best 2010 Tippeliga performance: 17th July, Valerenga 5-2 Kongsvinger
Baye Djibi Fall (Molde) – 25 years old – Striker
Fall is a powerful forward who already enjoys a fine reputation in Scandinavian football. In 2009, the striker was voted the best player in the Danish Superliga when turning out for Odense, while previously he had impressed with Randers. After a poor spell with Lokomotiv Moscow, Fall joined Molde at the beginning of 2010 as a replacement for Manchester United-bound Mame Biram Diouf. Back in a Nordic league, Fall has once again become a scoring machine, hitting the back of the net 16 times this season to be crowned the Tippeliga’s top scorer. The Senegalese was Molde’s only bright spot of the season.
Best 2010 Tippeliga performance: 3rd October, Molde 2-0 Kongsvinger
Mohammed “Moa” Abdellaoue (Valerenga) – 25 years old – Striker
Despite playing just 20 games in the Tippeliga, “Moa” certainly had a positive impact on Valerenga’s season. The Norwegian striker or Moroccan decent scored 15 goals and grabbed five assists in a season which saw his club take second place. In August the striker joined Bundesliga side Hannover, and just two weeks later scored his first goal for Norway against Iceland in Euro 2012 qualifying. Back in 2008, “Moa” also helped Valerenga to the Norwegian Cup – their last trophy – scoring six goals, including a brace in the final where he memorably hit the target from his own half.
Best 2010 Tippeliga performance: 2nd August, Valerenga 8-1 Start
Eric Huseklepp (Brann) – 26 years old – Winger/forward
Until 2008, Huseklepp was considered a typically inconsistent talented player – in 2005 he scored on his debut after just 19 seconds – unable to show his true colours game after game. The winger looked set to continue to see his performances rise and dip; then Steinar Nielsen was appointed as the new coach of the Bergen side and switched Huseklepp from the flank to play as a central striker. The 26-year-old responded to the move in style, recording his best ever season with 15 goals and 13 assists. Six months later however, Nielsen resigned after one of Brann’s worst ever league starts; the club ended up in a disappointing 10th place. With 10 goals and 10 assists amidst the chaos though, Huseklepp career has definitely turned round. Now the Norwegian is ready to move on to bigger things.
Best 2010 Tippeliga performance: 25th July, Sandefjord 1-4 Brann
Markus Henriksen (Rosenborg) – 18 years old – Midfielder
Markus Henriksen, the son of Rosenborg assistant manager and former Norway international Trond Henriksen, has impressed since making his debut under his father’s watchful eye. With a positive personality and pacey runs down the right flank, Henriksen got his chance this season, becoming a regular in the starting eleven and ending the campaign with seven goals and two assists. The midfielder also hit the target three times in the Europa League, and last October made his senior Norway debut.
Best 2010 Tippeliga performance: 19th September, Brann 2-3 Rosenborg
Veigar Pall Gunnarsson (Stabæk) - 32 years old – Forward
The veteran Icelandic striker returned to Stabæk at the end of 2009 after a disappointing time in France with Nancy. Gunnarsson’s Tippeliga return however, has been a resounding success, with 10 goals and 10 assists showing he has settled straight back in. In truth, this came as little surprise, as Stabæk has always been the striker’s “footballing home”. Gunnarsson won the Adeccoligaen (Norway’s second division) in 2005 and then finished second in the Tippeliga scoring charts the next season, just behind team-mate Daniel Nannskog; the Iceland star also recorded the most assists with 17 in 2007. Just one year later, Gunnarsson produced perhaps his best season in a Stabæk shirt as the club won the league – he bagged 10 goals and provided 14 assists.
Best 2010 Tippeliga performance: 5th July, Stabæk 4-3 Molde
Jo Inge Berget (Strømsgodset) – 20 years old – Forward
Berget attracted the attention of a whole army of scouts and fans after some sensational performances with Lyn’s youth team, which won the title in 2006. Sure enough, a big move came, and the forward joined Italian side Udinese with team-mate Odion Jude Ighalo. However, Berget has continued to learn his trade in the Tippeliga, on loan with Lyn in 2009 and this year with Strømsgodset. Despite missing almost half the season due to injury, Berget helped little Strømsgodset finish the campaign comfortably in mid-table, chipping in with six goals and four assists in 18 games, of which he started just 13.
Best 2010 Tippeliga performance: 7th November, Strømsgodset 5-4 Lillestrøm
Miika Koppinen (Tromsø) – 32 years old - Defender
Finnish international Koppinen first gained a level of prominence through his goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the 2007/08 Champions League. The Blues drew 1-1 against Rosenborg that night and soon after Jose Mourinho resigned as coach. Just a few months later, Koppinen left Trondheim to head back to Tromsø, for whom he had appeared for five years before making the switch to Rosenborg. The performances of the centre back, who can also play full back, have continued to improve year on year and the Finn has been a key part of Tromsø’s two third place finishes in the last three seasons.
Best 2010 Tippeliga performance: 1st August, Tromsø 4-3 Stabæk
Fonte: Inside Futbol