espen baardsen - fact file
1996 - 2000 goalkeeper
Born on 7th December 1977 in San Rafael, California, USA.
Position : Goalkeeper
Height : 1.90 m (6' 5")
Weight ; kg (13st 13lb)
A talented young goalkeeper, who had a fine future in the game, but was disillusioned by the way his career went and left to enjoy his life away from football.
Baardsen was picked to represent the US Under-18 national team before switching his international eligibility to Norway because of his dual nationality. Through Erik Thorstvedt, Espen had been travelling to England regularly since 1992 to train with the Spurs youth squads and his move to London came when he was old enough to make the move permanent.
His two appearances at the end of the 1996-97 season hardly hinted at the excellent form he showed in the following season, when he came in to cover for the injured Ian Walker. Stepping out of the shadows and into the limelight, his keeping was safe and sound; his save against Bolton at home the best he produced and an important one as it earned three points. Espen had been unhappy returning to the bench with little prospect of a regular first team place, but if you trace the careers of many a young Spurs goalie who left the club because they couldn't break into the first team (c.f. Chris Day), he may have been better off staying put. An accomplished goalkeeper, who was a reliable deputy should anything happen to Walker and could have become the number one in time. Had an impressive start to the next season after Walker was dropped after the first few matches. Put in some sound displays, but was prone to errors and the one which cost Tottenham the game at West Ham cost him his place in the side. Was very unhappy when that happened, but signed an extension to his contract and awaited another opportunity to keep Ian out.
A lack of opportunity left Espen sounding out a move (initially on loan, but eventually looking likely to be a permanent move away from the Lane) to get first team action. Some interested parties mooted a move, but the Premiership rules forbade a loan to another club in that League at the time, so any loan would have been to a Football League club. He plugged away in the reserves, but the summer saw the talented Norwegian move on to Watford for £1.25 million. As a big wage earner at Vicarage Road, he was a prime target to be moved off the payroll when financial pressures became evident and he took up a short term deal with Everton, ironically playing his only game for the Toffees at White Hart Lane against Spurs in a 1-4 defeat for the visitors, just a couple of weeks after he was in the crowd watching us play Arsenal.
Disillusioned with the game after being let go by the Toffees, he quit the game and went travelling around the world, with thoughts of going into university to gain financial qualifications for a future in the money world. In 2007, Espen was working for a London based hedge-fund business Eclectica and then at Olswang.
Baardsen's career was a good one and he played over 20 Norway Under-21 games and gained four full caps for his country including a place in the Norway squad at the 1998 World Cup. His loss is one to the game of football and MEHSTG wishes him well in the future, as he seemed a likeable and honourable man.
NICKNAME : Espen The Viking
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