A few days ago, when KI Klaksvik ousted Sweden’s champions BK Häcken in the second qualifying round for the Champions League, Jonatan Johansson was also sometimes asked for an assessment. Johansson, 31, was in goal despite not really wanting to be a goalkeeper anymore. And then he saved the fifth shot on penalties. He said, “This is so damn surreal.”
And that’s not just how it felt for him, it was a sensation, a little football fairy tale. Even the Faroese broadcaster KVF wrote: “A sensation. Yes, you could say that.”
Klaksvik is made up of semi-professionals, students and carpenters, and winger Arni Frederiksberg, who scored twice in the second leg in Sweden, is the CEO of a company in the fishing industry. And now they’re playing in the third qualifying round for the Champions League, it’s a first. Never before had a Faroe Islands club come this far.
Qualifying for the various European competitions is sometimes a complicated matter, yes. But in this case, in the case of KI Klaksvik, reigning Faroe Islands champions, it’s not all that complicated: the club have secured the group stage of the UEFA Conference League, but it could also be the Europa League or even the Champions League.
Qualification for the Champions League Arrow right
“The Greatest Thing That Happened To Me”
That’s what goalkeeper Johansson may have meant when he called the situation at KI Klaksvik surreal a few days ago. He also said: “It’s the biggest thing that has ever happened to the club. And by far the biggest thing that has happened to me.” And indeed it was like this: In a team full of unlikely heroes, Johansson was by far the most unlikely .
He actually ended his career last year, and how this end turned into a beginning is a special story.
When one call changes everything
In June, while on vacation on the Greek island of Rhodes, Jonathan Johansson received a phone call he probably didn’t expect. Johansson’s main job is an electrician, but he’s not a bad footballer either. He has played as a goalkeeper in Norway and his native Sweden, second division after all. Most recently, however, Johansson only played football for fun, in the 5th division in Norway. He was a central defender there.
In any case, at some point while on holiday, his cell phone rang and it was answered by Magne Hoseth, a former Norway international who now coaches Klaksvik. Hoseth had a problem, he had run out of goalkeepers. Both had played together in Norway a few years ago when Hoseth was in the autumn of his playing career and Johansson was a goalkeeper and electrician at the same time. Apparently Johansson didn’t make the wrong impression because Hoseth really only had one question.
Could he, Jonatan Johansson, imagine it: playing football on an island where there are more sheep than people, as a semi-professional, but with the prospect of qualifying for the Champions League. Johansson could imagine that. That’s how it started.
Johansson and the “best vacation in the world”
It’s been less than two months since then, and with Johansson and KI Klaksvik, things are really off to a bad start. He played six games, four of them in the Champions League qualifiers, where he did not concede a goal three times.
When they managed the upset against Hacken when they actually reached the next round, Johansson said: “It’s like I’m still on vacation. The best vacation in the world.”
But vacation is no longer for Johansson, he will be able to get over it. On Tuesday evening, KI Klaksvik meets Molde FK from Norway, the club where Erling Haaland once inspired. Should Klaksvik survive this round as well, the club would be in the play-offs for the Champions League and would even have a place in the group stage of the Europa League.
An electrician’s dream of more exoticism
Molde is also coach Hoseth’s former club, and defender Vegard Forren, 35, also played there for many years. It may be a special game for them, but Johansson, the electrician who saves penalties in Klaksvik, wasn’t too happy with the draw.
He reminded of Hacken, the district association from Gothenburg, he talked about Molde and his very personal “European adventure”. Johansson said: “It could have been a little more exotic.”
Source: with material from SID and DPA