I always realised that Bolton Wanderers had a lot of players from Scandinavia, and this list is dominated by them.
Before starting to run through this group of players, feel free to see how well you know the top appearance makers from Europe with this quiz.
This is the first of these teams on which I do not have to cheat to have 10 outfield players and a goalkeeper, and indeed I think it has allowed me to keep the most players in their natural positions. A 3-5-2 as shown below is how this lot would line up. Please excuse the typo on Pedersen!
GK: Jussi Jaaskelainen - 530 apps - Finland
Jaaskelainen began his career making around 100 appearances combined for MP and VAP in his native Finland. In 1997 he made the move to Bolton and went on to become one of the clubs longest serving players over 15 years as he left on Bolton relegation to the Premier League. Were it not for Bolton’s relegation, Jaaskelainen would like have given Eddie Hopkinson’s appearance record a real go, and I am sure I am not alone in wishing he had been able to stay on and do so.
Jaaskelainen was constantly Bolton saviour during his time at the club putting in a number a world class match winning displays. The most notable of these were his two penalty saves in the closing stages of a 1-0 win at Blackburn Rovers and his double save at Old Trafford during a Bolton win. The latter was nominated for the best save in Premier League history in 2012, being voted third. He won the Premier League goalkeeper of the year award, apparently in 2002 though I thought it was a little later.
While at Bolton he played a further 56 games for his national team, during a 12 year international career which began in 1998. Criminally he spent must of that time as Antti Niemi’s understudy.
After Bolton came a spell with Sam Allardyce at West Ham United before a couple of years with Wigan Athletic where he won the League One title. He then moved to India to play for ATK, where he made only one appearance before moving into coaching.
RCB: Gretar Steinsson - 139 apps - Iceland
Steinsson started his career in his native Iceland with hometown club KS before making the move to IA Akranes at the turn of the century. He quickly established himself in the first team and as a notable up and coming player in Iceland.
In 2004 he left his homeland for the first time to join Young Boys in Switzerland. He was there for two years before making the move to AZ Alkmaar. He became a first team player both for domestic and European campaigns while at the club.
His time at Alkmaar came to an end when Bolton completed a £3.5 million transfer in January 2008. This came some six years after the next man on this list was said to have recommended Steinsson to Sam Allardyce, who was already dreaming of a team of Nicky Hunts instead.
On joining the team he was thrown straight into Bolton’s successful relegation fight. He would continue as a first team regular the next season, even scoring the goal which guaranteed the club’s Premier League status towards the end of the season.
For the next couple of years Steinsson was in and out of the team due to injury and the signing of Sam Ricketts. This ran up to the end of his contract when Bolton finally ran out of time at the top table.
On leaving Bolton he moved abroad again to join Kayserispor in Turkey. He left the club one year into a two year deal, and announced that he was retiring from football at the relatively young age of 31.
On retiring from football Steinsson has taken a number of positions within the game. Most notably he was technical director at Fleetwood Town for four years in League One.
Steinsson also enjoyed an international career where he represented his country at all youth levels and played almost 50 times for the first team. He made his debut against Brazil, netting his sides only goal.
LCB: Gudni Bergsson - 317 apps - Iceland
Burgsson started his career with a five year spell at his hometown club Valur. He made almost 100 appearances during this time, before moving to England to join Tottenham Hotspur.
He failed to nail down a first team spot during his six years in North London, but did do enough to continue as a regular in the Iceland national team, who he had first appeared for in 1984.
Following a short loan spell with Valur Bergsson was unsure whether to continue in football and was studying to become a lawyer. According to his recent interview with the Bolton Evening News, Bruce Rioch discovered that Burgsson was available by chance when attending a Crystal Palace reserves game, where Burgsson was keeping fit. Rioch lept at the chance to sign Burgsson and convinced him to continue his career.
Burgsson made his debut in the League Cup final against Liverpool, laying on the assist for Alan Thompson’s goal which gave Bolton hope. The season of course ended in promotion and Burgsson was a key figure for Bolton in their ultimately doomed return to the top table.
He was a key man again as Bolton swept Division One aside to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking, a statistically rare achievement for relegated sides. Once again though it was not to be for Bolton with Burgsson once again a key man.
Injuries plagued Burgsson the next year, but he returned the season after to help Bolton to three unsuccessful semi-final appearances. Allardyce managed to convince Burgsson to extend his time with Bolton and he helped the side return to and consolidate themselves in the Premiership.
He made his last appearance in football and for Bolton against Middlesbrough as Bolton won 2-1 to stay up.
During his career he made a, then, record 80 appearances for the Iceland national team, and remains fourth on the list of all time appearance makers behind another former Bolton favourite Eidur Gudjohnsen.
On retiring Burgsson would enter the legal world as well as pursuing a number of other projects. He is forever recommending players to Bolton, including many of those who were part of the first Iceland team to qualify for a major tournament, dumping England out for good measure. For whatever reason we never sign his recommendations, but we really should!
CB: Bruno N’Gotty - 172 apps - France
N’Gotty came through the youth system at Lyon, making his debut in 1988. He played well over 200 games for the first team before leaving the club in 1995. At this point he joined Paris Saint Germain where he made a little under 100 appearances in three years.
While at PSG came one of the highlights of N’Gotty’s career as he scored the winning goal in the 1996 Cup Winners Cup final, PSG’s only European triumph, take note M’bappe and co. He also appeared in the final the following season but they were unable to defend their crown.
After his time with PSG he left French football for the first time joining AC Milan. During his two years at the club he picked up a Serie A title before being loaned out to Venezia.
After this he returned to France for a season with Olympique Marseille before moving to England and Bolton. He joined a club fighting relegation as one of the first major foreign imports of the Big Sam era. He became a key member of the first team squad from this point, enjoying five years at the Reebok stadium.
On leaving Bolton he spent a year with Birmingham City, helping them achieve promotion to the Premier League. On leaving he joined Leicester City and endured a very different season to the one before as the club were relegated to League One.
Following this he had short spells at Hereford United and I’AS Lattes back in France.
N’Gotty did not enjoy a particularly fruitful international career making only six appearances between 1994 and 1997. This would seem to run contrary to his success at club level between 1995 and 1998.