Fittingly, during the latest international break I caught up with one of Nottingham Forest’s finest ever foreign signings, Lars Bohinen.
Lars, now 50, is pulling up trees in the managerial world, but Reds fans will forever hold him close to their hearts for the artistry which brought the likes of Spurs and Manchester United to their knees in the Premier League.
Bohinen was snapped up by Frank Clark in 1993 for just £450,000. I asked the Norwegian what he thought about the move and of Forest’s chances of promotion that season?
“To be honest, I didn’t have much of a clue about the squad apart from Pearce and Collymore, it was just a good opportunity to leave where I was,” he said. “When I made my debut against Birmingham, we were 18th in the table, sixth from bottom, from here we didn’t lose for the next 14 games and climbed to the top in this period.”
I said to Lars “that’s what I’d call the Lars Bohinen effect.” He laughed out loud and replied by saying “Yes, I would say that too!”
Bohinen spoke highly of Frank Clark, especially his awareness regarding the midfielder’s fitness.
“He had to rest me from time to time given that I’d had no break since leaving Young Boys, initially, I disagreed but in retrospect it was a clever thing to do. He spent time with me, made sure I settled properly, and this really gave me confidence.
“Frank was a bit old school, not always on the training ground, Liam O’Kane took a lot of the sessions, but Frank would return two or three days prior to matches to ensure the quality was right,” said Bohinen.
Although Lars Bohinen only spent two years at Nottingham Forest, he made a lasting impression upon supporters and teammates alike. The NFFC fans would affectionately elongate his surname when chanting from any given stand at the City Ground, some going the extra mile with Viking helmets and horns in hand. Vance Warner had the following to say about his former teammate, “Lars was amazing, he showed off exceptional ball skills in training and in matches, a great player and a very funny guy!”
We spoke about promotion to the Premier League and the highly successful season that followed: “We had a good team spirit under Frank, and the victories improved this even more. When Brian Roy arrived things really came together!” I quizzed Lars regarding any funny stories or anecdotes in the dressing room back then, he laughed before saying: “I have a few, but they’re not fit for public consumption!”
As for stand out games during this period, predictably, Bohinen picked out Tottenham, both home and away and the demolition of Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. “You could say these games but there were so many good performances that season.”
That gives you an insight to the mark of the man; despite running the show and scoring wonder goals in those matches, Lars was all about team play and certainly not one for channelling the plaudits to himself. Something, that as the interview progressed, gave me a clear insight as to why he’s been so successful in management.
Lars is currently managing Aalesund, and has just won 1 Divisjon, Norway’s equivalent to the Championship by a record points total, earning him a third managerial promotion in just seven seasons with different clubs.
Aalesund’s promotion means that the former Forest hero will go head to head with his son Emil next season. Emil, 20, plays for Stabaek in the Eliteserien and for Norway under-21s and has attracted interest from clubs across Europe.
The following will be music to the ears of Nottingham Forest supporters, I asked Lars about Emil’s future and he had this to say: “I was hoping to bring him to Forest at some point actually, I think he can manage the standard (Championship). Like me, maybe the Premier League isn’t the first place to go but we will see.”
The thought of cheering on another No.8 called Bohinen in a Garibaldi jersey certainly makes the mouth water.
One supporter is better placed than most to wax lyrical about Bohinen senior, his name is Ståle Kvale and is no stranger to the #NFFC timeline on Twitter. Ståle, 45, is a lifelong Forest supporter from Norway, who described 1993-96 period at Forest as the one of the most eventful, and obviously kept a close eye on all Norwegians who’ve played for us down the years.
On contacting him, he immediately reeled of names like Aas, Osvold, Hjelde, Haaland and Stensaas. But, his appraisal of Lars Bohinen is a dual award if you will: “The Norway team of the ‘90s lifted us to heights never previously seen, qualifying for the World Cup in 1994 and ‘98. A vital part of that team was Lars Bohinen, his goal in the 2-0 win over England in Oslo still makes every Viking football supporter swoon!”
It was an absolute honour to talk with Lars Bohinen about his time at Forest and his exciting progress in management. Keep an eye out for him at the City Ground, he’s been invited back and is hoping to visit just before or after Christmas. I’d bet any money I have on someone bellowing “BOHIIIIINEN” at the very first sight of the man!