Sondre Solholm Johansen is ready to step up to ‘an unbelievably different standard’ at Motherwell after his ‘dream’ move to the Scottish Premiership.
The 26-year-old has viewed Scottish football from his native Norway and can’t wait to fully cement himself in the division after a move from Mjondalen. He’s signed a three-year deal and shone on his debut during an impressive 2-0 win over Aberdeen. His next appearance could help Motherwell go top of the league against Rangers this Sunday.
Johansen said: “In Norway we call the UK the Ball Island, so every boy’s dream is to play on the Ball Island, Personally, I’ve watched Celtic a thousand times – Rangers as well – in the Champions League and the Europa League when I was younger and they actually show two games a week on national television in Norway.
“It’s an unbelievably different standard to Norway. To go overseas and play with the big boys over here – that’s something I couldn’t say no to. It’s a dream to come over here to play. I know people will laugh at me when I say it’s a dream come true to come and play here but it is. It’s one of the top 10 leagues in Europe and I want to improve my game.”
Johansen reckons his experience at Mjondalen – who are fighting above their weight class in the Norwegian top flight – can be taken with him to Fir Park: “The club I came from back in Norway – it’s a small club, they’re not supposed to be in the top division in Norway in terms of the economy.
“We had to work hard for each other. I think that’s why the gaffer brought me over here because I can contribute to the mentality and the team effort that they already have going on here. That’s something that I know and I can contribute to.”
He pulled out some dance moves at the end of Motherwell’s weekend win over Aberdeen, but the defender says there’s plenty more to come from him. Johansen knows his fitness has to improve but he hopes that a good first impression has been made. The chances of success under manager Graham Alexander are endless too.
He said: “I don’t think there’s any limit to what we can achieve. The gaffer is pushing us every day in training and the fans push us in every home game. Hopefully we can push each other to be even better. The Motherwell fans will see a bit of dancing like I did at the end when we won the three points and 100% effort.
“Hopefully I’ll give something back in terms of goals, I love to get in the box at set-pieces. If I can give them a clean sheet and some goals that would be good. I love that, it’s what I live for – the duels, the tackles, the heading, everything. The first couple of weeks here have been tough as they train a lot harder than I’m used to.
“In the 70th minute I was cramping up in my hamstrings. I’ll get my fitness up and adjust to this intensity level in matches. It’s unbelievably high. I saw the budgets of the other teams when I arrived because I Googled everything to get an overview of what the Scottish league is about.
“When you’re smaller than some of the big clubs you have to do something extra. I think I’m a player that can contribute a little extra in terms of defending. I play every single game as if it’s my last. I love that, it’s what I live for – the duels, the tackles, the heading, everything.”
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