Spurs at the World Cup - Erik the Viking, USA 94
10 June 2014|Tottenham Hotspur
As the World Cup draws ever closer - Brazil kick-off the tournament on Thursday - we continue our series on Spurs players to feature on the biggest stage on football.
Next up, Erik the Viking and Norway hit the USA...
Erik Thorstvedt - Spurs 1989-1994, 218 appearances
The Norwegian national team was in the middle of a golden era when they qualified for the 1994 World Cup Finals in the USA, with a squad which included a number of English-based players including our goalkeeper Erik Thorstvedt.
They had taken part in the 1938 Finals in France, but then spent a long period in the international wilderness and were considered a minnow in the world game for much of that time.
But the appointment of Egil Olsen as manager in 1982, plus the emergence of a number of their star players in the top leagues across Europe sparked an incredible revival of football for Norway.
They qualified for the 1994 tournament as group leaders, ahead of Netherlands - who also progressed - and England, who didn’t. In fact, Norway held Graham Taylor’s England at Wembley before beating them 2-0 in Oslo. While they were dark days for England, it was a halcyon period for the Norwegians.
Thorstvedt - dubbed Erik the Viking by fans and media alike during his time at the Lane - had just finished his sixth season as a Spur when the tournament came around and was his country’s first choice keeper.
Norway were paired in a tough group alongside Italy, Republic of Ireland and Mexico, but with a squad which contained the likes of Thorstvedt, Gunnar Halle, Stig Bjornebye, Alf Inge Haaland, Henning Berg, Lars Bohinen and future Spur Oyvind Leonhardsen, they were confident of progressing.
With Thorstvedt in goal, they made the dream start by defeating Mexico 1-0 thanks to Kjetil Rekdal’s 84th-minute winner, but lost by a similar scoreline in their next game to Italy.
Going into the final round of matches, all four teams in the group had three points each. Norway knew a win against Ireland would see them through but in the Giants Stadium in New York, they only managed a goalless draw.
Incredibly, Italy’s game against Mexico also ended in a draw, but despite every team in the group finishing with four points, Norway’s lack of goals - just one scored - meant they ended bottom of the group and exited the competition. So Thorstvedt conceded just one goal in three games, but it wasn’t enough.