BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE and Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar has made a return to football coaching after completing a surprise move to the newly formed Norwegian second-tier (1. Divisjon) side Øygarden FK as special advisor and goalkeepers’ coach.
The 62-year-old former Warriors and Liverpool goalkeeper has not been involved in competitive football since leaving Canadian side Ottawa Fury two years ago after a four-year stint in the North American Soccer League.
The former Dream Team star was unveiled at the club, which was only founded January this year, on Wednesday and the move will see him working with his Norwegian girlfriend Janne Hamre Karlsen, who is a board member at Øygarden FK.
Grobbelaar said Janne, who hails from Sotra Island in Øygarden, where the club is based, was one of the main reasons behind his decision to take up the club’s offer.
“Of course, it means something that Janne is already there and is very happy with the club,” he said.
“At the same time, I am very happy about this opportunity, and it gives me great inspiration to be able to work with these young players.”
The charismatic former Zimbabwe international goalkeeper also revealed that he was looking forward to the opportunity to assist the club in its vision to groom its own players.
“The club wants to groom its own players and wants to gather players from this area to give them opportunities at the highest level. It is a very good philosophy that I think will work well here, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and in Africa, too,” Grobbelaar said.
He added: “I can relate my experiences to the young players, if they want to work towards a higher level. And I think this club has a desire to go to the top level and anyone who can help will be good for the club.”
Øygarden FK sporting manager Kurt Fjell told Eurosport (Norway) that the club was proud to be associated with a legend of the game such as Grobbelaar as they seek to secure promotion to the top-tier Eliteserien.
“It is quite honourable, in fact, to be allowed to collaborate with a Liverpool legend, I must say. “And we believe that he can bring us a lot of expertise in terms of the level he has been at in his active career. So it’s very nice,” he said.
Since ending his glittering professional football career in 1999, Grobbelaar has coached various clubs in South Africa and Canada while he is still an ambassador for English giants Liverpool.
Known as The Jungleman during his playing days, Grobbelaar, also briefly coached the Warriors.
Grobbelaar is a household name in Zimbabwe football circles just like in Liverpool where he won six English Premiership titles, three FA Cups, three League Cups and the 1983-84 Champions League (then European Cup).
The former Warriors player and coach was also a key member of the late German coach Reinhard Fabisch’s famous Dream Team of the 1990s, which came just a victory short of qualification for the 1994 World Cup.
Grobbelaar earned 32 caps for Zimbabwe between 1980 and 1998 and was twice briefly player-manager of the Warriors in 1997 and 1998.