Get the low-down on Vegard Forren, who signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with Southampton today.
Born in the small Norwegian village of Kyrksæterøra on 16th February 1988, Vegard Forren made his first footballing steps with local side KIL/Hemne.
Having broken into their first team, Forren was involved as his third-division side found themselves drawn against second-division Molde FK in the first round of the 2007 Norwegian Cup.
Just a year earlier, KIL/Hemne had been beaten 11-1 by the same opponents but on this occasion managed to pull off a shock by recording a 3-1 victory to secure a third-round game against giants Rosenborg BK.
The Molde management were clearly impressed by the performance of 19-year-old Forren in that match, and swiftly invited him to join them on trial. Soon afterwards, he signed a five-year contract with the club.
Forren made his Molde debut towards the end of the 2007 season, coming on as a substitute for the final half-hour of a 12-1 win over FK Mandalskameratene. MFK went on to win the Adeccoligaen title that season, gaining promotion to the Norwegian top flight.
Days before the start of the 2008 season, Forren made his debut for Norway’s Under-21 team in a 1-0 win over Ukraine as he began to build a reputation as one of the brightest defensive talents in Scandinavia.
He made 25 starts in Molde’s first season back in the Tippeligaen as they finished ninth and reached the semi-finals of the Norwegian Cup.
The following season, the left-footer scored his first goal in a 2-2 draw with Norwegian giants Rosenborg, finishing the year with three to his name having made 28 appearances.
Molde came close to doing the double that season, finishing second in the league to Rosenborg and losing on penalties to Aalesund in the Norwegian Cup final despite Forren netting one of four successful spot-kicks.
He continued to pick up Under-21 caps in 2010, scoring in a European U21 Championship qualifying win over Serbia.
However, 2010 was a tough year for Molde as they flirted with relegation before the mid-season appointment of former Southampton striker Uwe Rösler as manager helped them climb to safety.
Molde put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in charge ahead of the 2011 season, and Forren missed just one league game as the club won the top-flight title for the first time.
In January 2012, Forren made his full Norway debut as he was selected for the 2012 King’s Cup friendlies against Thailand and South Korea in Bangkok.
On the domestic front, the centre-half started every league game as Molde successfully defended their Tippeligaen trophy in 2012. He also made UEFA Champions League appearances, scoring against Latvian side FK Ventspils before his side were knocked out in the third qualifying round.
Forren’s performances for Molde in 2012 led to him being crowned as the country’s player of the year when he picked up the NISO Golden Ball last November. He was also awarded the 2012 Knicksenprisen as the best defender in Norwegian football.
He was called into the Norway squad for the second time last September, and was an unused substitute for 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying games against Iceland and Slovenia.
Forren’s third and fourth caps arrived in October as he played the entirety of Norway’s draw in Switzerland and a 3-1 win over Cyprus days later. He also played the full 90 minutes of a friendly win over Hungary in September.
Overall, Forren made 158 appearances for Molde between 2007 and 2012, scoring six goals. He now has five international caps to his name and is quickly becoming a regular for his country.
The defender will now follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen such as Claus Lundekvam, Egil Østenstad and Jo Tessem in appearing for Southampton in the Premier League.