Svein Grøndalen: An Unknown Cult Hero From Norway

GuidoAnalyst IOctober 20, 2008

Svein Grøndalen is a former footballer from Norway, like so many others before him. Born in Halden, Grøndalen had a fairly successful career. He generally played as left wing-back or central defender, and was noted for his "physical" style of play.

Many people remember him best for a brutal tackle which injured Swedish forward Ralf Edström during a 1977 international match, so it's pretty fair to say Grøndalen wasn't the most technically skilled player on the pitch. If I was to characterize his style of play, the term "butcher" would be appropriate.

Despite his apparent lack of technical skills, Svein had a fairly successful career. At club level, he was active for Raufoss, Rosenborg, and Moss. He also got into the Norwegian national side. In total, he racked up 77 caps for Norway over the course of his career.

To summarise the text above, the man had a fairly successful career, but nothing special and surely not enough to merit the status of cult hero.

Or so one would assume anyway. The truth is, the name "Grøndalen" pops up every year in football quizzes world-wide, mostly under "Trivia" or "Humour."

As I said before, Grøndalen played a grand total of 77 international games for his country, but the reason why he's a cult-hero is also the reason why he never played 78 international games. Fact is that Svein missed an international game with Norway because he was injured by a charging moose in a forest.

Sounds pretty unbelievable, eh? The story is actually true, as unbelievable as it may sound. When Svein was running through the woods, trying to improve his stamina, he stumbled across a sleeping moose.

The animal was probably a bit cranky, being woken up by some bloke nearly trampling all over him. The angry moose did not hesitate and charged immediately. Svein turned and ran, diving off the edge of a steep hill and rolling to safety.

When he was rolling down the hill, he sustained a cut in his left leg. After checking if the moose had left, he limped back into town and had his leg stitched up by the Rosenborg club physio.

He had to withdraw from the national team for its international fixture against Finland however, and because of this almost unbelievable story he was promptly elevated to cult hero status.

If you have a look at some of the worlds most bizarre football-injuries, you're almost sure to find the name of Svein Grøndalen on the list somewhere.