Former Celtic star Stefan Johansen still believes Bodo/Glimt tie can be played

STEPHAN JOHANSEN has been in awe of the stunning rise of Bodo/Glimt for many years.

But even the Norwegian ace didn’t expect his first club to stun Celtic with a 3-1 win over Parkhead.


Former Celtic star Stefan JohansenCredit: Kenny Ramsay – The Sun Glasgow
Bodo/Glimt Boss Kjetil Knutsen


Bodo/Glimt boss Kjetil KnutsenCredit: Kenny Ramsay

The former Hoops midfielder, 31, shared a loyalties when his two football loves met in the European Conference League.

As QPR Johansen watched the first leg from his London home and was amazed by the performance of Kjetil Knutsen’s team.

He said: “Bodo/Glimt is a club that is very different from the past.

“In 2003 they finished second in the Norwegian Championship, but it’s hard to compare them to this team.

“They went up and down from the big leagues to the second league. They didn’t always get the desired results.

“But four years ago, Kjetil Knutsen came to power, and everything changed. He has a style of play, they stick to it, and it worked.

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“That was incredible. The club is so well run.

“The set has been fantastic, but it’s also about the values ​​and the system they have.

“It was an incredible period. Kjetil did an amazing job and all the work they put in paid off against Celtic.

“Before the first draw in Glasgow, I thought it would be a very difficult task for Bodo.

Celtic are on a roll. They are a good team and they really enjoyed beating the Rangers.

“The fans were on their side, they had dangerous players and they had the best poignancy of the match.

“Bodo didn’t play for a few months, but then somehow they showed such a performance. It was just incredible.

“To do that when you are still in the off-season and you just lost some of your best players in January was incredible.

“For me, it just shows how well prepared the team is and how well the coach is doing.”

Celtic need at least two away goals on Thursday, so Bodo remains top favorites on the road to progress.

But Johansen will never write off his old side as they brace for freezing temperatures north of the Arctic Circle.

He added: “I still think it’s an open game. I am really.

“It will not be easy for Celtic to come to Norway. It will be below zero, there will be some snow, and this is an artificial field.

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“It is a difficult task to overcome a 3-1 deficit, but they will be better prepared for what is coming from Bodo now.

“I really enjoyed the game last week. These were two very good teams.

Bodo did very well and they are now the favourites, but Celtic are also fraught with many dangers.

“The stadium is small but nice and I’m sure the Celtic players will adjust to it.

“For them, it’s all about the right mindset. They need to score at least two goals, so I’m looking forward to the second leg.”

Johansen’s wife, Pernilla, is from Bodo, and they return there every summer with their family.

He uses the holidays to meet friends he has made at the club during his five years there.

His two and a half years at the Hoops led to four trophies under Neil Lennon and Ronnie Dale.

Johansen has also made real lifelong friends like Virgil van Dijk and Nir Bitton and finds it impossible to choose between his two former clubs.

He said: “I was 16 when I signed my first professional contract with Bodo, but I have been in the first team since I was about 15 years old.

“I am from Vardo, north of Norway, but I had to move to play professional football.

“Bodo and Tromsø were the two closest teams and Bodo contacted me. I signed a contract, but over the years things didn’t go as planned.

“It was one of those things. When my contract expired we decided it was time to try something else.


“It was probably the right moment for me – as a football player and also for me to become an adult!

“I got my own housing, I left my family, and everything worked out for me.

“But I can’t say anything bad about Bodo as a club. They will always be close to my heart. This is special for me.

“My wife is from Bodo and they gave me the chance to be a footballer.

“I didn’t really have the time I wanted as a player at the club and I ended up having to leave.

“I went to Stromsgodset with Ronnie Deyla and I felt much better there.

“But this is my local club, I know a lot of people in the city and in the team.

“When I get home in the summer, I always go to their place and get coffee.

“Bodo means a lot to me, but Celtic has also been a very important part of my career. My family really enjoyed Glasgow.

“We had a great time there for a few years, won a lot of trophies and have great memories.

“I have developed a lot as a player and as a person. I have always been very appreciated at Celtic.

“I have made friends for life. Nir Bitton is one of them and it’s nice to see that he’s still doing so well. He is a top player.

“Therefore, it is difficult for me to choose between clubs for this game. I just hope it’s a very good game again.”

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