By Sulayman Bah
Pic: Kristian Brix pictured was sadden by his ex-club’s refusal
The wish of every player is to get capped for one’s country and receive compliments of being an international. Such invitations from Football Associations, viewed as source of pride, come after the recognition of a player’s exemplary performance at club level and which convinces national team coaches that one deserves to don in the sacred colours of their nation.
Sent most often than not via email, it earns one the esteem amongst club peers which makes it easy for one to understand why players readily jump at the opportunity when it comes by.
Having starred for Norway – his country of birth, and where his mother hails – Kristian Brix had a change of heart to play for the fatherland. Not that he’s been overlooked in anyway by the Scandinavian country’s national team gaffers, but because he wanted a long harboured childhood dream fulfilled to represent Gambia, where, he believes, some of his roots are.
That opportunity came but literally flew out of the window in a twinkle of an eye. Occupied with fulfilling a clause feverishly instilled in his lucrative contract to qualify Gambia to the African Cup of Nations, former Scorpions head Coach Paul Put, extended invitation to Ebrima Sohna and then 21-year-old Kristian Brix to a friendly match against Gabon. Arrangements were for the two to fly out together to the Scorpions’ camp.
But with Sandefjord in hot pursuit for promotion, it defied sense for the Norwegian club to temporarily part with Brix and Sohna who are both squad regulars, and they understandably turned down Gambia Football Association’s request. Wrangling between club and national team officials would have been the ensuing result had it been a proper qualifier match.
“I was very disappointed when SF told me that it was not possible for me to go to Gabon and play for Gambia. In my mind, I was ready to go and I was very sad when they (Sandefjord) said no,” said the 24-year-old in reminiscence of the incident that occurred in 2011, in an exclusive with Foroyaa Sport from his base in Oslo.
Kristian has since moved on putting the incident behind him and growing more mature in his trade and his enthusiasm to feature for the Scorpions in a better form than previously.
Interestingly, Brix has never once been to the West African nation he so wishes to be identified with and is little known by Gambian football fans aside from occasional writings on him in newspaper back pages which are meticulously keeping tabs on his progress in the Norwegian premier league. That however may soon be history with the traditional left-footer, versatile enough to operate on either sides of the defense, looking forward to visiting the Gambia on football duty or on holiday.
Brix is unfamiliar to home fans but not with some Gambia internationals who are acquainted to him as he had captained them at club side.
The erstwhile Sandefjord captain continued: “In Sandefjord, I played with two great hardworking Gambian players. Both became very good friends of mine and I still love seeing Tijan (Jaiteh) who I played with for 2 years. I have a lot of respect for both of them because they are very hard working and honest players. I talked a lot to Tijan and Ebrima about playing there and they were very positive to me playing for Gambia.”
‘I have never been to Gambia but I would love to go there on holiday or to play football. My interest comes from the chance to play international football for a country where some of my roots are. I have played for Norway (at U-17 level) and now maybe it’s time to play for Gambia,’ the Scorpion-hopeful and Ex- Norway U-17 international told Foroyaa Sport.
The five feet nine inch starlet’s career teed off at five times Norwegian Premier League winners Valerenga Fotball in 2007.
In a coach with a strong penchant for thrusting youth players to the A-team, Kristian rose through the ranks to become a member of the first-teamers and rewarded gaffer Peter Myhre’s faith in him with exhilarating runs where pace and technique is best required. The Norwegian Football Association quickly beckoned on him with recruitment to the country’s U-17s squad after just four club appearances. However, his return to the VIF’s squad fold was met with the retirement of Myhre as coach whose replacement’s taste for established players over developing ones truncated the Gambian’s stay at the club forcing the then 17-year-old to Sogndal on loan.
Despite being rendered unsettled by changes at the managerial helm, Brix wasn’t to leave without setting a new club record being the first ever player born in the 1990s in Valerenga’s A-team and scoring in the UEFA Cup clash against Lithuanian Ekranas in August 2007.
‘In Vålerenga, I felt that I was being looked after very good by the coach PetterMyhre until he retired. After that I didn’t feel that the new coach liked me and he didn’t give me a run of games so I could show what I was good for,’ the 1.75m winger-turned stopper states not without an ounce of remorse.
That is one of many setbacks ubiquitous in today’s football and the player has since moved on. His drive to seeks pasture news turned out a successful crusade as he went on to captain Sandefjord for three years before securing a two-year deal with Bodø/Glimt in the premier league.
Making twenty-eight appearances in thirty possible matches, Kristian, a Barcelona fan, raked in two thousand, two hundred and thirty-seven minutes with the Glimtin his first season. Like any ambitious footballer, the Gambian has high expectations for the upcoming season.
He has 12 months left of his current two-year contract and looks to play at a level higher than the Norwegian PL in the future and feature in UEFA competitions.
‘My expectations for the upcoming season are to play more than last year. I want to play all 30 games and to also play on a higher level than last year. My goal is to come to a level where I play in European cups every year. I loved it back in 2007 and I want to do it again.’ He concludes.
Current outfit Bodo face Brix’s former employers Sandefjord March 5th this year in their league opener. Kristian has two runner-up medals: the League and Super Cup.
He and AlagieSosseh will be the sole Gambians trading their services in the Norwegian top flight when the new season commence with TijanJaiteh due to play second fiddle football next year following Sandes Ulf’s relegation from the first division the previous campaign.
By Sulayman Bah