I’VE appeared on Faroe Islands radio since I last updated this blog. One of their journalists wanted to speak to an expert on Manchester City, and everyone suitable was on holiday, so he asked me instead.
I’m guessing he was from Kringvarp Føroya (the state radio station) rather than Rás 2 (their independent rivals), but I forgot to ask.
The excitement is building in the Faroes ahead of EB/Streymur’s UEFA Cup first qualifying round tie against City in Torshavn tomorrow night. Their media wanted to get a Manchester view on the tie.
While I can speak about six words of Norwegian, my Faroese vocabulary begins and ends with “takk” (which is both the Faroese and the Norwegian word for thank you). Fortunately, the reporter who interviewed me over the phone – a friendly and helpful chap called Paul – was happy to record the interview in English and then translate (and presumably overdub) it for Faroese listeners.
I can’t say I offered much insight: I simply said at great length that I thought City would win easily, which they will, unless something goes seriously wrong. Paul, however, was more more useful to me, as he was able to give me some background information on a team nobody seems to know anything about.
That lack of knowledge is the reason that many English newspapers and websites, on learning of City’s European opponents, forsook a run-down of EB/Streymur’s team in favour if a fact list about the Faroes which came straight from the Jeremy Clarkson school of sledgehammer humour. (I’m looking forward to the Faroese press running articles entitled ’10 things you never knew about Barnsley’ in time for the second leg at Oakwell on July 31.)
It was from Paul that I learned a particularly interesting story about EB/Streymur midfielder Mikkjal Thomassen. The 32-year-old is a police officer by day, and was responsible for escorting Italy’s team to the national stadium in Torshavn for a Euro 2008 qualifier against the Faroe Islands just over 12 months ago.
Having done so, Thomassen – a Faroe Islands international – then got changed into his football kit and went out to play against Del Piero, Inzaghi and Co. (I’m not sure what was the bigger surprise about that night – the fact that the Faroes only lost 2-1, or that Italy managed to score two goals in one match.)
EB’s coach Siggi Clementsen is full-time, but the players are part-timers, and many of them, Paul told me, work as police officers, like Thomassen. I was told to watch out for Arnbjorn Hansen, EB’s leading scorer, who has attracted interest from Danish club Odense, and Faroes international Hans Pauli Samuelsen, who carries an attacking threat from midfield.
In addition, striker Peter Foldgast played youth international football for Denmark and played for former City defender Age Hareide at Brondby, so has a decent pedigree.
But when EB chairman Rólant Højsted claims that tomorrow’s match might “see a surprise”, he’s got to have his tongue in his cheek. Hasn’t he?