Former Cherries favourite Claus Jorgensen talks about his two spells in AFC Bournemouth colours.
This article first appeared in MATCHDAY, the club's programme, for the December match with Burnley.
Danish midfielder Claus Jorgensen was crowned player of the year following his first season with AFC Bournemouth in 1999/2000.
capped ten times by the Faroe Islands, he played alongside Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall as the cherries went close to reaching the division two play-offs in 2000/01 – the year Jermain Defoe scored in ten games in a row.
Jorgensen, who returned for a loan spell in January 2004, went on to play for Bradford, Blackpool, port vale and Fleetwood and is currently coaching at Danish Superliga club Aalborg BK.
How did you find your way to Bournemouth in 1999?
I was playing part-time in Denmark and there was a winter break. With the help of my brother-in-law, I wrote to all the Division Two and Division Three clubs in England. We went to the library to use the internet to get a print-out of all their contact details. We followed up with phone calls until we got through to speak to the right person.
Bournemouth were the first ones we got hold of. John Williams was responsible for bringing people in and I was invited over for a trial. There was a reserve game against Chelsea on the Tuesday night and they said that if I did well, I could train with the first team on the Thursday. That was it basically, I came over, played the game and just got a nod afterwards. There wasn’t much communication, I just got a nod and told I would be training on the Thursday. I did well in training and it went from there.
While playing part-time in Denmark, you had several jobs.
Do you have any interesting anecdotes from any of them?
I was playing part-time in the second division in Denmark and working as a labourer for an aluminium cladding company. We drew FC Copenhagen in the cup which was a big game for us. I had to work in the morning and take a half day in the afternoon. On the day of the game, I managed to drop this cladding thing on my foot and my big toe was throbbing. It was so bad that I had to wear moulded studs in one boot and long studs in the other and it was a really wet pitch.
It was the biggest game in the club’s recent history and I had an absolute nightmare and got subbed. It certainly taught me about how you need to prepare and need to cover all angles just to get that one per cent advantage.
Fantastic! https://t.co/n5r3xlDu9R— Claus Bech Jørgensen (@ClausBJorgensen) June 21, 2017
A 21-year-old Eddie Howe scored on your debut against Cambridge United in August 1999 – could you have predicted his future?
At the time, I don’t think anyone could have predicted what would happen to Eddie or the club. It was a shame he got injured when he did because he was a fantastic player.
The way he comes across when you see him on the television now is just how he was then. He was a very honest player, humble and very serious about his work. He had a daft sense of humour like the rest of them but he was very serious about his football. He was very well respected and hard working. You could see he had the ingredients but nobody could have predicted just how successful he would go on to be in management. I am delighted to see how well he has done.
You scored the only goal in a 1-0 win at Millwall in January 2001 when all eyes had been on Jermain Defoe after he had netted in ten games in a row. Did you feel like you had stolen his thunder?
I’m not sure it was my fault his run ended!
We were a supporting cast that season and everybody was just happy to be part of the fabric when he burst on to the scene.
He had just turned 18 and I remember his first day in training. Sometimes, everything you touch goes in and he was having one of those days. I thought it was a good start but it would be interesting to see if he could repeat it the next day. That’s exactly what happened – he did it again and again and again. Mark Stein was a very good finisher and never missed the target and Jermain was the same.
What are your memories of the epic 3-3 draw at Reading on the final day of the 2000/01 season?
We had a good team and great coaches in Sean O’Driscoll and Peter Grant. It was just so close. Jermain played a big part in that season and it looked like we might make the play-offs.
We were 3-1 up at half-time and they got a goal back. We were hanging on a little but I didn’t think there was too much danger until they got a free-kick which Darren Caskey scored. Stephen Purches had a shot cleared off the line by Graeme Murty at the end and our chance had gone.
We could have had a chance of sneaking into the Championship and, if we had, then I don’t think I would have left that summer. It’s all ifs and buts and who knows. It was shame because we had a chance and the club had to wait until another 12 years to reach the Championship.
You were quite a fiery character – did you ever lose your temper?
I think I had little scraps at every club I played for but always let it go pretty quickly. It’s in the moment and I’m pretty good at laughing at myself otherwise my time in England would have been hard being a foreigner and trying to get used to all the banter.
I remember at Blackpool, me and the captain had a little wrestling match during a five-a-side game but it was all quickly water under the bridge and that’s the way it should be.
Do you remember dressing up as Santa Claus at Christmas in 2000?
Outside an angling shop in Christchurch? Yes, I do!
There was a mannequin outside the shop and every time I drove past, I thought it was a real person.
My nickname at Coventry was Santa!
Who was your favourite player at AFC Bournemouth?
Jermain gave us a chance to be good because he scored goals. We were the same players before and after he came but to have a goalscorer like that, he was amazing and played a big part.
One player who took me under his wing was Mark Ovendale. When I first arrived, I didn’t have a clue about what was going on and had to get used to English culture. He spent a bit of time with me and made sure I was okay and helped me settle. I’m probably forgetting other people but Mark made me feel welcome for sure.
You returned for a loan spell in January 2004. What was behind that?
I wasn’t getting a look-in at Coventry and Sean O’Driscoll brought me back. It was great to come back. We did really well and were trying to sneak into the play-offs but ran out of steam. The fans were brilliant with me, as they always had been. It was great to come ‘home’ again.
I enjoyed it but didn’t get to score the goals which I had wanted to. When you’re a loan player, it affects you when your personal targets aren’t met. I was playing well enough but I was very much focused on scoring goals because that’s what I had done when I was at Bradford City.
There was one really funny thing I remember about coming back to play at Dean Court when I was at Blackpool around Christmas in 2006. I was injured and got substituted and accidently walked to the wrong dugout. That was slightly embarrassing!
What are you doing now?
In July, I started working for Aalborg BK, a Superliga club in Denmark, coaching the under-15s. I moved back to Denmark after 20 years in England. I retired from playing in 2010. Since then, I have had my own flooring business while coaching. But this gave me an opportunity to go back full-time.