Jan Åge Fjørtoft is a former Norwegian footballer, recognized in Europe for his incredible career in England, Germany, and Norway, as well as being named the captain for the National Team fifteen times, and his role a assistant manager, Sports Director, and many other important roles he’s taken in football. Jan is currently working in the media as a reporter, and we had the pleasure of talking to him about many interesting aspects of his career, Liverpool, German football and much more.
Is there any ‘under the radar’ Bundesliga players that you think we should be keeping an eye on?
“There is an American at Dortmund called Giovanni Reyna, he is 17 and he is playing like a grown-up. Reyna is a fantastic player. There is also another guy in my former team Eintracht Frankfurt, although I don’t think he is good enough for a top team in the Premier League – Filip Kostic, great crosser of the ball, did really well for them in the Europa League.”
What is your take on the Gini Wijnaldum contract situation?
“A lot of these players and their agents will play a poker game, and that is normal; you want to get a bonus for what you have achieved for winning the Champions League and winning the league, and that is normal. I understand that people are worried about losing a good player… I think he will sign a new contract, but like everyone else, (this) is only speculation.”
Do you think there is a chance Thiago will join Liverpool?
“Bayern have not given up getting him on a new contract and Klopp knows him of course. I think (it) is a matter of what the owners of Liverpool are saying because they were very clear on Timo Werner, what was going on at that time… they didn’t have the funding for that player. If that changed Liverpool would [materialize their interest] in every player. I also think that it is very underestimated how a manager can pull you, a good puller as Jürgen Klopp is – everyone would like to play for Jürgen Klopp!”
What happened with Timo Werner and Liverpool?
“I interviewed Werner after the Tottenham game, I never heard such a clear love song [about Liverpool] as the one he gave after that game, but is all about timing – the Liverpool owners said ‘we’ll wait a bit before we invest’, and that they will keep the ‘three amigos’ at front. Same with Bayern Munich, when you have Lewandowski upfront, if a number 9 becomes available you can’t take him in because you know he won’t get enough games; that’s very hard to see.”
Talk to us about your fellow Norwegian Erling Haaland
“I remember after the Champions League game at Anfield I interviewed Virgil van Dijk and he was annoyed at me because I asked too many questions [about Haaland]. To be fair to Haaland, he was having that game and had the opportunity to score even more goals! I remember at the end of the interview I asked him about Haaland and Van Dijk said ‘well I didn’t see too much of him [during the game]’ and then I said ‘well I think it is a good sign for a striker when a defender doesn’t see him’ and then he just walked off the interview; although it was my last question.”
“….I think he will definitely play in England [at some point]”
Klopp – Hamburger SV story.
“Hamburger Sport-Verein who is a great club were looking for a manager, and they saw Jürgen Klopp, they had a report and saw he wore ripped jeans, he smoked, he’s got long hair, and they thought they can’t have him [because of those reasons]. Dortmund took him, and the rest is history. it just shows you how dumb clubs can be!”
Do you think that Klopp will eventually manage Germany’s National team?
“Do I think one day Klopp will be a manager of Germany? Yes, I do because that’s the biggest honour you can get. But after Dortmund and Liverpool, (it) is going to be hard for him to find another club that can fulfil all these things; a passionate club, with very passionate fans, and with a very clear identity, so I think the German national team will be the most likely thing.”Embed from Getty Images
What are your thoughts on Jurgen Klopp?
“I love my interviews with Klopp. He is underestimated… we know people love him because he is ‘Jürgen Klopp’ – but if you look at that Liverpool team, every player on that team he’s made them better: Robertson, Henderson. Firmino came from Germany as an okay striker, an okay striker not more not less, how he has turned to be the guy he is! Mané came from Southampton, Salah was a substitute [at Chelsea], in FC Basel people didn’t want him [Salah] in the team, the captain once said to the coach ‘can we please not have him on our training team’, now look at how he turned him into a world star. Sometimes I think Jürgen Klopp is underestimated in his role as a football coach.”
Tell us a bit about the Norwegian starlet Martin Ødegaard.
“Martin Ødegaard was very close to joining Liverpool – I was in the national team at the time, and his dad asked me to help him decide, they had the privilege of choosing between Arsenal, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. I remember I had them in my living room, we talked it through, and the guys were Liverpool fans and they fancied Liverpool a lot, the problem was that at the time Liverpool didn’t have a second team and he [Ødegaard] was only 16 and he wasn’t ready to play in the first team, that’s why he went to Real Madrid and played for the second team who at the time was coached by Zinedine Zidane.”
Walk us through you famous ‘Let’s Talk About 6’ Interview with Klopp.
“… So I take Klopp in, I like to always get in (like to know) Jurgen’s mood; whether (it) is bad or if he is happy or angry, it is always entertaining when you have Klopp in an interview. He started singing and I sang the first line with him, and thank god in heaven I’m not singing the whole song because of course, it is much better if the Liverpool manager is doing it. So I turn myself around, and you see only my back, but I’m actually lip singing it and thank god he’s singing the whole song! When he finished he walked off, and I knew that that was gold, it was fantastic, and I knew that it kinda symbolized Liverpool and the whole club. So I am sort of standing there with my iPhone, waiting for my producer to tell me ‘fantastic job Jan’ or whatever – for a second I thought I lost the interview, so I text him to ask what happened with it and I was waiting for a minute and it was the longest minute of my life! Then I got hundreds of messages, Whatapps, and twitter started going ballistic. I was very happy of course! That was fantastic.”