After scoring Norway’s opener in their Euro 2020 qualifying clash with Sweden last night, Bjørn Johnsen provided an unwelcome reminder for Hearts fans. Johnsen was made a Jambo after Robbie Neilson brought the 6ft 5” striker to Scotland, arriving from Bulgarian side Litex Lovech.
How has he blossomed since departing Tynecastle? And why didn’t it work out for him in Edinburgh?
Hearts to the Hague
Instant impact came on his Hearts debut in August 2016, a month after signing for the club. A smart back heel from the striker provided a perfect opportunity for Sam Nicholson to score. The winger grabbed the first of his two goals in a 5-1 rout of Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Tynecastle.
The arrival of Ian Cathro as Head Coach made Johnsen slip down the pecking order. In fact, Johnsen netted just five Scottish Premiership goals whilst in Edinburgh. The last of those came in December 2016 in a 1-1 draw with Partick Thistle. As a result, he was allowed to move on.
The American-born Norwegian was sold to ADO Den Haag for an undisclosed fee in July 2017.
At ADO Den Haag, Johnsen was given an opportunity to showcase his talent. And he successfully did so, netting 19 goals in 37 Eredivisie appearances in the 2017-18 season. Perhaps his most notable goal came against European giants Ajax.
He also scored a brace against eventual Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven.
He even finished second top scorer in the division. Not bad considering ADO finished in 7th place. Only behind Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Johnsen finished ahead of the likes of Hirving Lozano, Steven Berghuis and Justin Kluivert.
ADO to AZ
His rich vein of form resulted in a supposed £2 million move to AZ Alkmaar. The new number nine netted on his debut, an opening day 5-0 victory over NAC Breda. With five goals in the Dutch top tier this season, he may not be as prolific as last term but he’s still getting opportunities at national level.
Hearts can probably be credited with international acclaim. After all, he made his Norway debut a month before signing for ADO Den Haag.
However, the Jambos must wonder what could’ve been had they held on to a player whose reputation has continued to soar since leaving Scotland.