Arne Larsen Økland
Born: 31.05.1954 in Bømlo
Arne Larsen Økland was among the first Norwegians to enjoy real success abroad, with three excellent years at Bayer Leverkusen as the highlight of his career. He was also one of the key players in Bryne's rise from obscurity to becoming one of Norway's top teams in the late 1970s. At the national team, he was a key player in the Tor Røste Fossen era, playing a total of 54 internationals, including the famous victory against England in 1981. When his playing days were over, Økland became a coach, before leaving the game to become a successful businessman. He has coached Bryne and Viking, and was Egil Olsen's assistant at the 1994 World Cup.
Økland began his career in the lower divisions at his local club Bremnes, but made his name at Vard Haugesund in 1976. Though the newcomers from Haugesund were relegated, Økland had an excellent season, scoring 11 goals - more than half of Vard's goals that year. The next year, he joined another unfashionable side from southwest Norway, Bryne. Like Vard, Bryne had won promotion to the first division for the first time in their history in 1975, but unlike Vard, they managed to stay up (by the slimmest of margins) in their debut season. With Økland leading the way, Bryne improved every season for the next four years, finishing fourth in 1979 and an impressive second the next year, in a season where Økland only played half the season before leaving for the Bundesliga.
At the national team, Økland made his senior debut against Spain in 1978, which incidentally was Tor Røste Fossen's first match in charge of Norway. He soon became an important member of both the full national side as well as the Olympic team, which was restricted to amateur players who had not played in the last World Cup qualifying campaign, but nevertheless regarded as full internationals by the NFF. After winning in the preliminary round against Ireland, Norway were pitted against Finland and West Germany's amateur side for a berth at the Moscow Olympics. Økland scored Norway's winner in the deciding game that was played in the German village of Baunatal, and Norway had qualified for the 1980 Olympic football tournament - or so it seemed. But when most of the western countries, including Norway, decided to boycott of the Moscow games because of the Soviet invation of Afghanistan, Økland and his teammates, which included the likes of Einar Aas and Vidar Davidsen, never got to play in the Olympics. Instead, they had to settle for a regular place in the senior national team, and in Aas' and Økland's case - a professional career abroad.
Økland signed for Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 1980. Maybe it was the goal at Baunatal the year before that alerted the club about his talent? Whatever the reason, Økland would soon become a star at the German side. He made an immediate impact at Leverkusen, scoring against arch-rivals Köln in only his second appearance for the club, and followed that up with another goal three days later against Eintracht Frankfurt. By the end of the 1980/81 season, he had scored 16 goals in the Bundesliga, including his famous hat-trick against Bayern München, where Økland could in fact have recorded a fourth goal, but showed tremendous sportsmanship by telling the referee (who had awarded the goal) that the ball had in fact hit the side netting and wasn't a goal. He continued to pile in the goals for Leverkusen the next season, and also took part of Norway's greatest win ever at the time - at least according to the press, when Norway shocked the world by winning 2-1 against England. It was at the final whistle of this match radio commentator Bjørge Lillelien uttered those now famous words "Maggie Thatcher, can you hear me? Your boys took a hell of a beating!" Of course, Norway still finished last in the group and did not even come close to reaching the 1982 World Cup.
Things went better in the next qualifying campaign, at least in the early stages. Norway made a good start in the Euro 84 qualifiers, including an excellent win against Yugoslavia and an almost as impressive 2-2 away draw in Bulgaria. Økland got on the scoresheet in both those matches, and at the end of 1982, it looked as if Norway had a reasonable chance of reaching the finals in France. Then Tom Lund retired, and things went downhill, meaning Norway once again failed to qualify.
In 1983, Økland left Leverkusen after three excellent seasons at the German club. In his three years at Leverkusen, he played 101 Bundesliga matches and scored 43 goals. He then signed for French side Racing Paris. Things did not go as smoothly for Økland for the French side. He did score quite a few goals, but not nearly as often as he did in Leverkusen, and the club struggled in the lower half of the table as well. After two years in Paris, Økland returned home to Bryne in 1985. He was still a member of the national side, and claimed another big scalp when Norway beat world champions Italy in Lecce later that year. Økland scored the opening goal. It was a small consolation as Norway endured another miserable World Cup qualifying campaign. Økland played his last international game in May 1987, and hung up his boots at the end of that season, his last game being the 1987 Cup final. He finished his career on a high note, as Bryne won the Cup for the first, and so far the only, time in their history.
National Team Appearances
|2||21.05.1978||Oslo||Republic of Ireland||0-0|
|5||20.08.1978||Oslo||Austria||0-2||European Champ. Qual|
|6||20.09.1978||Lokeren||Belgium||1-1||European Champ. Qual|
|7||25.10.1978||Glasgow||Scotland||2-3||European Champ. Qual|
|8||09.05.1979||Oslo||Portugal||0-1||European Champ. Qual|
|9||16.05.1979||Dublin||Republic of Ireland||0-0||Olympic Games Qual.|
|10||31.05.1979||Oslo||Republic of Ireland||2-1||Olympic Games Qual.|
|11||07.06.1979||Oslo||Scotland||0-4||European Champ. Qual|
|12||09.08.1979||Kuopio||Finland||1-0||Olympic Games Qual.|
|14||29.08.1979||Vienna||Austria||0-4||European Champ. Qual|
|15||26.09.1979||Trondheim||West Germany||2-0||Olympic Games Qual.|
|16||26.10.1979||Stavanger||Finland||1-1||Olympic Games Qual.|
|17||01.11.1979||Lisbon||Portugal||1-3||European Champ. Qual|
|18||14.11.1979||Baunatal||West Germany||1-0||Olympic Games Qual.|
|Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)|
|21||10.09.1980||London||England||0-4||World Cup Qualifier|
|22||24.09.1980||Oslo||Romania||1-1||World Cup Qualifier|
|23||20.05.1981||Oslo||Hungary||1-2||World Cup Qualifier|
|24||03.06.1981||Bucharest||Romania||0-1||World Cup Qualifier|
|25||17.06.1981||Oslo||Switzerland||1-1||World Cup Qualifier|
|26||09.09.1981||Oslo||England||2-1||World Cup Qualifier|
|29||22.09.1982||Swansea||Wales||0-1||European Champ. Qual|
|30||13.10.1982||Oslo||Yugoslavia||3-1||European Champ. Qual|
|31||27.10.1982||Sofia||Bulgaria||2-2||European Champ. Qual|
|Racing Club de Paris (France)|
|35||10.10.1984||Oslo||Soviet Union||1-1||World Cup Qualifier|
|36||17.10.1984||Oslo||Republic of Ireland||1-0||World Cup Qualifier|
|38||01.05.1985||Dublin||Republic of Ireland||0-0||World Cup Qualifier|
|42||16.10.1985||Oslo||Denmark||1-5||World Cup Qualifier|
|43||30.10.1985||Moscow||Soviet Union||0-1||World Cup Qualifier|
|44||13.11.1985||Luzern||Switzerland||1-1||World Cup Qualifier|
|51||24.09.1986||Oslo||East Germany||0-0||European Champ. Qual|
|52||29.10.1986||Simferopol||Soviet Union||0-4||European Champ. Qual|
NOTE: Matches in red are not recognized as full internationals by FIFA.
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