There is no doubt that foreigners have improved the quality of the English game, and Norway is a country that has helped contribute to this. Norwegian’s that have graced the Premiership include Manchester United duo Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ronny Johnsen , John Arne Riise at Liverpool, Brede Hangeland at Fulham, John Carew at Villa and Tore Andre Flo at Chelsea. But what happened to one Norwegian in particular: A defender that won Premier League titles with two different clubs and, at one point, was the most expensive defender in Britain. What happened to Henning Berg?
Berg came to England in 1992 when he signed for Blackburn for £400,000, after impressing in previous spells at Valerenga and Lillestrom in his native Norway. The Norwegian quickly established himself as Blackburn’s first-choice right back and played an important role in Blackburn’s 1994/95 title winning season, which has led by the prolific strikeforce of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton.
A move to Manchester United followed in 1997 for a then-British record fee of £5 million for a defender. Berg played centre back for United because of Gary Neville at right back, and was a regular fixture in his first season with the club. United then smashed Berg’s record transfer fee to sign Jaap Stam from PSV Eindhoven in 1998, and the Norwegian saw his first-team opportunities decrease at Old Trafford because of the arrival of the Dutch international defender.
Berg won a host of trophies in his time at Old Trafford, including three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a Champions League medal in the club’s treble-winning season in 1999. Known for his versatility and consistent displays, Berg quietly went about his business at the heart of the United defence and is fondly remembered for his performance in the 1999 Champions League quarter final against Inter Milan, where the defender marked Ronaldo, then the world’s best striker, completely out of the game.
Berg returned to Blackburn in 2000, and captained the club on their return to the Premiership in 2001, as well as winning a League Cup in his second spell at Ewood Park. A lone season followed in Scotland with Rangers, before the Norwegian hung up his boots in 2004.
Berg was a regular fixture for Norway in his career, winning 100 caps at the heart of their defence and representing his country at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, as well as Euro 2000. Berg is now manager of Lillestrom in Norway, finishing 11th last season, after a previous spell in charge of Lyn Oslo from 2005-2008.
Henning Berg will forever be remembered as a great professional, who’s consistently solid displays considerably helped his team’s success and earned him fans in both Manchester and Blackburn.
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