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Espen Baardsen
Position: Goalkeeper
From: Tottenham Hotspur - £1.25m - August 2000
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: The worst thing that could possibly have happened to Chris Day


If transfer fees were scrapped tomorrow, Espen Baardsen would still have been a million pounds well spent. Here we have someone for whom no Tottenham fan has a bad word - in fact, most of them are positively fuming that Spurs let him go. Claude Littner, the Tottenham director, has said that everybody bar George Graham thought Baardsen to be the best goalkeeper at the club. And yet here he is at Watford, 6'5" of him, with a huge wingspan, and he's ours. Ha-ha!

Somehow, our Espen only ever played twenty-nine games for Spurs. He was kept out by Ian Walker, who needed to play in order to fund his wife Suzy's pathetic attempt at a chat show. But in those fifteen games he was so commanding of his penalty area, he made so many world-class saves, that the Tottenham fans almost demanded he be left in when Ian Walker came back from injury. Left on the bench for the next one and a half years, and then left to watch Neil Sullivan join, putting him even further back in the pecking order. It was a sign to him that he should move on.

Thanks to GT's vigilance, this Norwegian American (born and brought up in the States) came to Vicarage Road, and in his first six games only let in a paltry total of two goals. It doesn't matter what happens from now. The fact is that the defence has complete confidence in him, knowing that if the ball is in the air, anywhere in the penalty area, he'll be out to grab it. And if it is on the ground, his extremely solid technique will account for most of the shots.

Added to this is the fact that as a person, Espen Baarden is an example to his peers. Claude Littner talks of how nice he is, how he was always happy to talk to anyone, and to get involved in any charity work, etc. This has carried on at Watford. He seems to have made a nice little habit of giving his gloves to kids at the end of each game, and has struck up a healthy rapport with the Watford faithful.

To hold our own in the Premiership, Graham Taylor knows he'll have to start at the back. It's nice to know we can skip straight to the defence.

Paul Goldsmith
Last updated: September 2000