There is a considerable Norwegian heritage at Southampton, and Vegard Forren is keen to extend that legacy further.
When Forren makes his long-awaited Saints debut, he will become the sixth player hailing from Norway to have featured for this club in the Premier League.
His countrymen have had varying levels of success in these parts, with Claus Lundekvam – who, coincidentally, watched his old side in action against Liverpool last weekend – still held in high regard by Southampton supporters.
Lundekvam’s 413 appearances for Saints is the highest number made by a Norwegian player on these shores, and Forren – who, like Claus, had spent his previous career with just one club before moving here – will hope to emulate his compatriot’s achievements.
Vegard’s first challenge, though, is to force his way into a defence that has improved immeasurably over the course of the season. The 25-year-old admits that, while he has achieved one career aim in securing a move to England, he will not truly feel at home until he is playing regular football.
“Playing here has always been a dream for me,” Forren exclusively told Southampton's official matchday programme.
“I’ve been watching the Premier League since I was about 12 years old. All the Norwegian people are so crazy about it that it’s hard to explain, and I don’t think the English people really know how obsessed we are.
“I had a really good season last year, so I knew the interest would come if I performed over a long period of time. I always hoped that I could come to the Premier League and, now I’m here, I’m very happy about that.
“I am living my dream, but I’m not happy to just be here and to say that I am a Premier League player. I want to be playing games every weekend, so my goal now is to work hard and hopefully get a chance.”
Last Monday, Forren played for Southampton’s Under-21 side in their defeat to Arsenal on what he calls “the coldest night I have ever played football in” – some statement for someone who spent their first 25 years in Scandinavia.
Vegard Forren in action for Saints' Under-21s earlier this month
He now has two full games for the Development Squad under his belt, having scored in a one-all draw with Liverpool at St Mary’s a week earlier. That was his first full match in almost exactly four months, having played for former club Molde in their Europa League victory over Stuttgart on 6th December 2012.
Since arriving at Southampton in mid-January, he has been on the bench for the First Team three times – including for Saints’ last two fixtures – and he feels he is now in a position to challenge for a starting place.
“It’s not easy to just jump into the team, but I’ve been training hard and effectively doing my own pre-season,” he said.
“I came here from a holiday, and it’s not easy when you come into somewhere that players are in the middle of their season. You have to be fit to play, especially in the Premier League.
“In that sense it has been difficult for me, but it’s getting better every day. I will be ready when the opportunities come for me. I’m now fit so hopefully I’m ready to get some games between now and the end of the season.
“I know I can show people what I’m good at if I get my chance between now and the end of the season. If not, I have a long contract so I’ll keep working hard until that chance comes.”
Forren moved from Molde with great pedigree. His performances in 2012 led to him being crowned as Norway’s player of the year when he picked up the NISO Golden Ball last November, and he was also awarded the 2012 Knicksenprisen as the best defender in Norwegian football.
His move was covered in relentless detail by the media in his home country, from the moment he landed in England to his eventual unveiling as a Southampton player on a snowy Friday in mid-January.
“It was a busy week for me,” he laughed. “I’m not the sort of person who gets stressed out in those situations, but it was a long week.
“The Norwegian press is crazy – I’m not really used to that level of interest but I knew it was going to be like that so I was prepared.
“The whole country is crazy for the Premier League, so when a Norwegian player goes to England that’s how it is. You have to handle those situations.”
If rumours are to be believed, he could have been lining up on the opposite side last weekend. “There was a lot of interest in me at that time and Liverpool was certainly one of the teams that was mentioned,” Forren confirmed.
“I’m not really sure how big an interest there was [from Liverpool], but then we got the call from Southampton. There’s always speculation, but there was no doubt that this was the right choice for me.
“This club was really interested in me, so I really wanted to come here and talk to them. It was an easy choice for me.
“I had a good feeling, and I’m still very happy to be here. Hopefully I get some games soon, and then everything will be perfect.
“You want to be in the team for every game, and you never know if the manager suddenly wants to make changes,” added Forren, who could be in international action for Norway against Albania this evening.
“We have so many good players in the squad that you never really know who’s starting. I’ve been doing my work in training every day and waiting to see whether I’m in the squad and the team.
“When the manager wants to use me, I am going to be ready for it. If I get a game or two then I’ll be happy, and that’s what I’m working towards in training every day.
“If not, there are positives because I can do some good work during the summer and come back in pre-season on a level pegging with the rest of the team from day one.”
Remember to pick up your copy of the official matchday programme at St Mary’s in future for more exclusive interviews with Saints stars