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After playing part time Third Division football in Norway for Clausenegen FK, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer moved to Premier League Molde in 1995. His performances earned him a place in the national team, and it was not long before he started to attract the interest of bigger clubs throughout Europe. He was also dubbed the Norwegian Alan Shearer.

In the summer of 1996 Alex Ferguson paid a 1.5m fee for Solskjaer's services. Not expecting to be playing for United until the new year, Solskjaer found himself almost a permanent fixture in the first team, scoring on his first team debut, and ending the season as top scorer with 19 goals, 18 of them in the League. A firm favourite with the United faithful, his performances during this season prompted his old manager at Molde to claim that if he had known he was going to be this successful he would have asked United for more money!

A full international for Norway, he won a League Championship medal in his first season and helped United to the semi-final of the European Cup, finding the net in the second leg of the Borussia Dortmund game, only to find his goal ruled out when the referee spotted a 'mystery' foul. In addition to this he was also recognised by his fellow professionals, being short listed for the 1997 PFA Young Player of the Year Award.

Ole represented Norway at the 1998 World Cup finals, playing three matches as the Vikings reached the second round, only to be knocked out by Italy.

At the start of the 1998/99 season it was rumoured that Solskjaer would be on his way out of Old Trafford after the 12 million signing of Dwight Yorke. It is to Solskjaer's credit and the supporters' relief that he decided to stay with United and fight for his place. Although he was mainly limited to substitute appearances, he could not be kept out of the headlines during the Treble-winning season.

Grabbing a dramatic winner against Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup, Solskjaer rightly claimed the glory and the limelight, with the newspapers calling him United's super sub!

Two weeks later Solskjaer rewrote the record books, again after coming on as a sub against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground. He scored four times in an emphatic 8-1 victory, to create a new Premiership record for an away win. His personal feast of four goals scored in thirteen minutes had historians, statisticians and supporters alike pondering as to whether this had been done before. No one has yet come up with any answers, so we assume that Ole Gunnar has indeed created a new football record.

Despite this feat, Solskjaer's starting opportunities continued to be scarce. He did make the first eleven for the FA Cup Final victory over Newcastle United but then returned to the bench for the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich.

There was a sense of deja vu about the sensational end to this game. Once again Ole Gunnar was called from the bench and produced a last gasp winner. The United supporters attending the Final in Barcelona promptly struck up a new song of "Who put the ball in the Germans' net?"


Patrick Eustace 2000. Last modified on Thurs, 27 Jan, 2000

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