COMMENT: Pedersen proves release is not end of the road
"HE has been revitalised,” was how the manager of the Norwegian national team put it this week.
In the international wilderness for the final two years of his time at Rovers, Morten Gamst Pedersen is enjoying a new lease of life.
Still only 32, perhaps we should not be surprised.
It has been quite a year for Pedersen. It has taken him from the stands at Ewood Park to Turkey, back to his native Norway with Rosenborg and back to the national team.
Only a minor injury restricted him to a role as unused substitute for Norway against France in the Stade de France on Tuesday night.
In March, he netted his first goal for his country in three years, in a 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic.
His Rovers exit was a great pity – a former star reduced to a bit-part player whose wages had become a problem.
But maybe his departure worked out best for everyone in the end.
Undoubtedly Pedersen had struggled for some time to reproduce the form that had won his place in the hearts of the Rovers fans during their Premier League days.
As much as he wanted to stay and play for Blackburn, there was a sense too that he needed a change, a new challenge.
Likewise Rovers needed to cut their wage bill and fast after a period of disastrous excess – more to do with the contracts given to those who followed Pedersen, than the Norwegian himself.
Norway’s manager, Per-Mathias Hogmo, puts Pedersen’s slide in form at Rovers down to the decision to move him off the wing into central midfield for a period.
Undoubtedly Pedersen was at his best out wide, whipping in crosses with that most cultured of left foots.
When he left Ewood last August, Pedersen first moved to Turkey - joining Karabukspor close to the Black Sea.
He played 13 games for his new club before the opportunity to return home to Norway arose in March, when he signed for Rosenborg.
Since arriving back in his homeland he has made 11 appearances, scoring one goal.
It may not quite match the heights of his Premier League days, but it is just good to see Morten happy and playing football again for club and country.
He is not the only player to have enjoyed a revival since his time at Rovers. Karim Rekik has incredibly made the Netherlands’ provisional World Cup squad after barely featuring during a loan spell at Ewood Park last season.
Similarly, Mame Biram Diouf is now set to return to the Premier League with Stoke after starring in Germany with Hanover.
The Rovers bench need not be the death knell of a career
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