The position of goalkeeper is an art in itself and not many can say they possess such ability. And transferring his knowledge for a great cause is Norwegian powerhouse Marius Rovde. Having played within his homeland for two of Norway’s soccer giants – Rosenborg and Lillestrom – , Rovde had spells playing in Scotland and in England’s league one. Following his retirement Marius Rovde moved into goalkeeping coaching, and currently occupies that particular role at the Vancouver Whitecaps. Soccer Night Exclusive caught up with Marius to discuss all things soccer ranging from his playing days, coaching expectations as well as his spell fighting in the Norwegian military. Exclusive to http://www.soccernightexclusive.wordpress.com

Marius%20Rovde%2005First and foremost for the readers who are unfamiliar with Markus Rovde. What type of goalkeeper was you during your playing days ?

I was the underdog who didn’t have too much talent, but wanted a career so much more than 99% of the players I was competing with. When it comes to personality and strengths, I was a very loud keeper and a very good communicator. I also was very good with my feet/distribution and loved coming for crosses. I was also very brave and because of that I got involved in some crazy situations.

What age and how did you get into the sport of soccer ?

I started playing in the streets with my older brother and his friends when I was 5 years old, and I joined a team when I was 9. I was the Goalkeeper in my first game and we lost 7-0. After that I had 2 seasons playing as a midfielder.

When did you know that goalkeeper was the position for you ?

They always put me in goal when I played with the big boys. I was aged between 5/6 and they were 11/12. I was always impressed with the fact that you had gloves etc.. But I realized it when I was 12 years I guess.

Was it always a passion of yours to become a professional soccer player ?

I loved soccer and so did my family, my dad played and coached, my mum liked to go to games. So I guess my pathway was made. But the real passion for me wanting to be a professional came when I was 15 years and signed with Rosenborg BK.

During your growing up stages as a goalkeeper who would you say was your biggest influence and why ?

My biggest influence was probably my mum and my coach Bjorn Hellum (9-15years). My mum because she was always supporting me with driving me all over Scandinavia for tournaments, games and training. Bjorn Hellum for being that great personality, friend, supporter, coach, “Parent” for the whole team. He dedicated his whole life to helping us boys become soccer players. He is a true legend, and nobody has ever given him the credit he deserves.

rosenborg-bkYou have played for some high profiled teams during your playing career but none bigger for a Norwegian than Rosenborg. How did it feel to play for such a high profiled club ?

To play for Rosenborg was a dream come true, and it felt amazing. The problem was that I got a little carried away and big headed with all the attention at such a young age.
I got my debut in a game up north in Norway, and all the guys I played with were living legends in soccer at that time. It was a fantastic feeling.

As well as playing in your homeland, you also flew the nest to play for Ayr United and Motherwell in Scotland, and Wrexham in Wales. How did the move to Ayr United materialise ?

I was playing in Norway, and didn’t want to sign a new contract with the club I was playing for, then I got asked – by a guy called Vettle Andersen who is a former professional in Scotland – if I wanted to go to Ayr Utd for a try-out. I travelled with a one way ticket, because I had made up my mind that I wasn’t going home. They liked what they saw and from there I signed a 3 year deal.

scotland-flag-soccerWhat made up your mind to move and test yourself in the Scottish football league ?

The last year I played in Norway, I was kind of board to play all the same teams and players, and I wanted to test my character more. I had heard it was a brutal league and that suited me at my stage of life.

How would you describe the style of soccer during your days in Scotland ?

The tempo, will power, and madness was much greater than skill and discipline!
It was extremely direct and provided some crazy battles at times. Survival of the fittest!

From Ayr United you moved to Wrexham where you played in the newly called League One. What was the reason for your move ?

I moved to Wrexham because my manager at Ayr Utd screwed me with my contract. He didn’t let me play after a certain amount of games because of my bonus clause. It was a mess on and off the field at that time and the manager later apologized. I forgave him!

150px-Wrexham_FCDid you enjoy your time competing in League One ?

League One was maybe my favourite league, so many games and so physical. I remember we played 6 games in 15 days throughout the Christmas period. I loved playing games. The Wrexham supporters were fantastic to me, and I loved them. The club went into administration and nobody got paid their salaries, the supporters collected money at different pubs to try to and keep me at the club. I will never forget that! From Wrexham I went to Lillestrom and Champions League soccer. Lillestrom was a great club and maybe the best supporters in Norway, but the club had a bad spell that year. Then I got a chance back in Scotland with Motherwell, and two weeks after my arrival they went into administration as well… no salaries… but a rollercoaster experience no doubt.

As part of playing professionally as a soccer player you was required to fulfil duties in the Norwegian Military. What emotions did you attain fighting for your country ?

That is something every Norwegian would do, it’s a country filled with proud and also very brave people. I went straight from Rosenborg BK and joined the army.

What did you learn during your time in the Norwegian Military ?

I learned a lot about surviving skills and leadership. I also experienced how much a human body can take before it breaks down. Trust and teamwork was also crucial.

Eventually in 2006 you hung up your gloves. What would you say were your biggest highlights throughout your playing career ?

I think it was being a part of the final in the Scottish FA Cup at the opening game of the new Hampden Park, against a star packed Glasgow Rangers. Also winning the Norwegian Cup. I had some great moments in the European Cup too.

2009_07_04-B-Licence-GK-Diploma-Course-Nottawasaga-Inn-56_2_1Once you retired from professional soccer, was coaching always a preferred career path for you?

Coaching wasn’t for me straight away, because I got a great job offer during the last year of my contract. I decided to retire and be the Director of Sales in Midlands in Norway for BMW. I was out of the game for 1 ½ year before I came back with full intentions on coaching.

You are qualified with both the A and B licences to your name, how difficult was it to complete these courses and achieve the qualifications ?

It wasn’t very hard at all because Goalkeeping was my passion and that was the profession I really had clear thoughts on how it should be run. It was very interesting and the courses were very good too.

2010_0404_600x300_triniballTrinidad and Tobago has been a coaching home for you, as you have coached the U17’s Women’s, U17 and U20 men, what was it like to become a part of the development of goalkeepers at that age ?

I could probably write a book about my time in Trinidad, it was something different. I would not be here without it , but it was also very chaotic at times. The development of Goalkeepers at that age in Trinidad wasn’t like developing Goalkeepers at that age in other countries. My U17 Womens’s GK’s had never been GK’s before, so we had to start from scratch and we had one year to fix it before the World Cup started. Eventually my Goalkeeper was the best in that World Cup and that was impressive.

Trinidad and Tobago are a country passionate about cricket mainly and soccer, what is the country like in terms of goalkeeping talent ?

There is almost nothing to pick from when it comes to Goalkeepers, everybody wants to be strikers or attackers. They have a few young talents on the male side, but they have the wrong GK coaches and very little backing from the FA. There is a few who think they can coach but it mostly very good toastmasters with good stories and no action. The country is too laidback to produce Goalkeepers. But I still have some great friends from my time there.

Have any of the keepers you’ve coached made the move to bigger teams in Europe or North America ?

I am so new in North America, so I haven’t seen the best of them yet. But I have delivered one from Toronto to Birmingham who are in England’s Championship division. Three GK’s to MLS for both TFC and Whitecaps FC. I have delivered four keepers for the U17 Canadian National team and World Cup, two for the Canadian U15’s, two for the Canadian U20 National team and one for to the Canadian Men’s 1st team. Simon Thomas played his first game from the start against USA and he proudly kept a clean sheet! Way to go Simon.
I also was a part of the transformation of Brad Knighton from NASL Goalkeeper to maybe one of the best Goalkeepers in MLS towards the end of last season.

under17_women__staff_2010Do you intend to become a Head Coach or is goalkeeping coaching your choice ?

Goalkeeping coaching is my choice, but I think I would like to combine it with being closer to the head coach with regards to the team decisions. That will come sooner rather than later.

During your time in T and T you was the director for goalkeepers at the Football Federation, what did that role involve ?

That role involved planning, identifying, mentoring and coaching potential Goalkeeper coaches. I also travelled with every team that played qualifiers in the World Cup, both men and Woman. I was also Even Pellerud’s right hand man. (The most successful Women’s coach in the world). Now in charge of the Norwegian women’s team. I travelled to 22 countries within a 2 ½ years period with Trinidad and Tobago FF.

Coaching is a tricky career to pursue, what would you say makes a successful coach ?

Hard work, honesty, idealistic, humble, stubborn, strong mind and a good proportion of madness. Without good material (players) it doesn’t matter how good you are, you will always get limited results with a poor group of players. Reference: Wolverhampton this year.
Ritchie_RovdeIn July 2011, you was appointed goalkeeping coach at the Vancouver Whitecaps. How did the move to Vancouver come about ?

I left T&T when Jack Warner started to fade out of FIFA and T&T. Nobody paid salaries and I’ am still due a bigger amount of money now, but that I will never see again. I was doing a coaching course for Ontario soccer association, and I was contacted by Whitecaps FC and TFC both on the same day.
Even Pellerud had told the club about me in Vancouver because he is and was a Whitecaps friend. (He had family living in Vancouver). I also knew that he had spoken to Jurgen Klinsmann about me, and he was the advisor for TFC.
I could choose where I wanted to go and I was advised to go to Vancouver where it was more about soccer and less political. Tommy Soehn hired me and then we moved west from Toronto to Vancouver. My third game on the bench for the club was a double header against TFC.

Does your role involve coaching only the first team keepers or are you involved with the residency programme too ?

I am involved in anything to do with Goalkeepers at Whitecaps FC on the men’s side. I am trying to get involved and talk to the Goalkeeper coach and college coach Raegyn Hall – who has the daily responsibility on the field with the youth -. But I’d love to participate in those sessions. I am also involved in the selection and recruiting process of the new young Goalkeepers. The first thing I changed was the way they trained of the field, gym work etc.. And now we have the best Goalkeepers from the U15, U17, U20, and one for the first team on the Canadian national team. My goal is to always have three out of four Goalkeepers in the first team of Canadian nationality. Now I have two next year maybe three.

Jay Nolly was the first choice keeper in 2011, the first season at Whitecaps for you. How good of a keeper was Jay Nolly ?

Jay Nolly was a decent Goalkeeper, but a much better person than he was a number 1. He was a very nice man and very likable. But he wasn’t the best Goalkeeper at the club, and I had to change that together with Tommy Soehn, so that we played with the best GK in every game. Jay is an all-round GK without many weaknesses and a steady GK.

7268966Currently fighting it out for the number one jersey are veteran Joe Cannon and Brad Knighton. How much have both of these improved under your stewardship since you have arrived ?

Joe Cannon has been a top Goalkeeper in MLS for many years, but was the back up when I first met Joe. I needed to get him fit fast and make him sharper. Last year he kept a clean sheet in 17 of his games, including preseason games and he currently holds the record in MLS with minutes played without conceding goals. (2012). So we have done something right together.

Brad Knighton was a former backup GK in MLS and then played a couple of seasons in NASL, before joining Whitecaps FC and took over the number 1 spot from Joe Cannon through hard work and focus. Brad Knighton played 13 Games last year and had the lowest goals against of all the GK’s in the league. Brad took some big steps last year and I think we have developed a lot together.

Can Joe Cannon regain his starting spot this season, after losing out to Knighton back in 2012 ?

If you think you can write of Joe Cannon when it comes to competing for the number 1 spot, then you’re wrong and probably about to lose as well. He is the ultimate professional GK, he works harder than any GK I have met, except for myself. Twice he has been side-lined for a long time with injury, both times he has bounced back and took over the number 1 spot. San Jose Goalkeeper Jon Busch still has nightmares of Joe Cannon coming and taking his number 1 spot.So my answer is that the one who works the hardest, will probably play the first game of the season at BC Place. I have four candidates within the first team, and I am not one of them.

joe_cannon_2What attributes do both Joe Cannon, Brad Knighton and Simon Thomas possess ?

Joe Cannon is a fantastic communicator and a fantastic shot stopper with tons of experience. Joe likes to analyse his own performance every day.

Brad Knighton has a good presence and is very good at claiming crosses, at the same time he possesses a rocket launcher of a goal kick. He is speedy and very strong physically.

Simon Thomas is a beast in training, he only knows one way and that is full speed. He never takes his foot of the accelerator and will develop into a top, top Goalkeeper. I guarantee he will get MLS games within one season or two. Also he is great communicator and the bravest GK alive! Big fan of the underdog, and I believe all his colleagues are a big fan of him as well.

How does it feel working with all of these keepers day in day out ?

I love working with them and challenging them daily on the training field. We have a good chemistry within the GK group. I am always on the winning team in soccer tennis, and that is hard for them to swallow.

In my personal opinion having played in between the sticks, I think the position is the hardest one upon the field of play. What attributes do you think are key for a keeper to become a successful one ?

You must have a winning personality, good presence, be a hard worker, love attention to detail, passionate, a little bit crazy and very strong mentally.

7955496Martin Rennie has just signed Nigel Reo-Coker for the Vancouver Whitecaps, how ambitious does it show the club are, bringing in players of his ilk ?

Martin has shown that he means business, we now have in my opinion a top three MLS squad and we will transform that into silverware this season. We will win something this year! At the same time Martin is building for the next number of seasons by signing players who are very young and promising.

Vancouver Whitecaps reached the play-offs last season, losing out to eventual winners LA Galaxy, what is the team looking to achieve in MLS this 2013 season ?

We will be looking at the play-off’s again and get further than last year. Of course we want to be the first Canadian team to win the MLS Cup.

Can Vancouver win the MLS Cup in 2013 ?

Yes we can win the MLS cup this season. You need a good run and to peak at the right times, so that is possible. LA was just one penalty away from going out against San Jose, so its small details that count in the end.

175px-Vancouver_Whitecaps_FC_logo_svgWhere would you like to see your career in five years’ time ?

Head GK coach and assistant coach at club and international level. As well as coaching, mentoring and directing goalkeeping programs.

What advice would you give to any potential goalkeeping coaches looking to make a career in the game ?

Look at other Goalkeeping coaches, find one you like and make him mentor you. Copy what you think is good and be a good student of the game. Don’t only focus on drills, but also focus on why you do the drills and how it can relate on the field. Don’t be a fan of your GK’s, be a leader and direct them instead.

6965919229_3d66d00882_zFavourite Save You Made

A top corner save for Wrexham against Wigan at 0-0. We won 1-0.
The save was shown several times on Sky Sports throughout the following weeks!

Favourite Game You’ve Played In

Ayr Utd vs Glasgow Rangers.

Toughest Player Played Against

Romario.

Best Player Played Alongside

Bjorn Tore Kvarme, 7 years with him. He played for RBK, Liverpool, St Etienne, Real Sociedad, Bastia.

Team Supported Growing

Rosenborg BK, Liverpool FC.

Best Friend In Soccer

Even Pellerud, Norwegian Women’s Team Head coach.

Favourite Food

Pasta Alfredo and a bloody steak as well is good.

Favourite Drink

Milk.

Favourite Film

Once Upon A Time In America.

Favourite Music Genre

Hard Rock.

Favourite TV Show

Sons of Anarchy.

Hobbies and Interests Outside Of Soccer

Weight training, Golf and my family. I have 4 kids and I love to spend time with them.

What Would You Do If You Won $1Million

See my family more often in Norway.

photo 1Funniest – Me

Loudest – Paul Ritchie.

Quietest – Carl Robinson.

Most Skilful – Mike Young.

Quickest – Mike Young.

Most Intelligent – Martin and Jake DeClute.

Worse Taste In Music – Paul Ritchie (same taste as my daughter, she is 13 years!).

Best Dress Sense – Martin.

rovde

I would like to thank Marius for his time and efforts during the interview process, and I wish him and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC organisation the best of luck for 2013.

@soccernightexcl

@maplesoccer123

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