Bendtner critical to Rosenborg's Champions League hopes

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Norway's most successful club are aiming to qualify for Europe's premier club competition for the first time in 10 years


EXCLUSIVE

Rosenborg's recruitment of Nicklas Bendtner underlines the Norwegian club's desire to replicate their golden era and return to the Champions League, according to full-back Alex Gersbach.

The ex-Arsenal striker has become a target of ridicule in recent years as he club-hopped around Europe without making much impact on the pitch, but his young Australian team-mate is convinced Bendtner will "make a big difference" at Rosenborg.

The reigning Eliteserien champions are the most successful club in Norway's history and were regulars in the Champions League group stage from the mid-1990s until their last appearance in 2007-08.

Why people don't understand Bendtner and I - Frimpong

Since then Rosenborg have struggled to navigate the qualifying play-offs, with the Trondheim-based club even failing to make the Europa League group stage this season.

But with Rosenborg already qualified for next season's second qualifying round where they will meet one of the likes of Celtic, BATE Borisov and Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Gersbach is confident that will change in the club's 100th year.

 

Nicklas Bendtner, Rosenborg

"The signing of Nicklas Bendtner shows we want to play in Europe and I think we're going to have a decent shot this year," he told Goal.

"I think it's a really good move for him [Bendtner]. It's courageous for him to come here to Norway and leave everything else behind, and he's sort of starting fresh, I guess, and I think so far it's working out really well for him and I think it'll get even better from here."

Nicklas Bendtner's Rosenborg career begins with a trophy

Bendtner's decision to sign with Rosenborg in March after an underwhelming period with Nottingham Forest raised a few eyebrows, as the renowned 'bad boy' seemed unlikely to relish living in a city of just under 200,000 people, approximately 350 kilometres from the Arctic circle.

But Gersbach - an Australia international, who has been at the club for almost 18 months - has a surprising take on the Danish centre-forward.

GFX Nicklas Bendtner quote

"I think he's calmed down a lot now. He's actually a really nice guy and he's fun," Gersbach said.

"He's always laughing, he's always making jokes, so he's really good to have around the change room.

"He doesn't really have an ego. You'd expect a player like that to be cocky and arrogant, but he's genuinely a nice guy."

When revealing his decision to join Rosenborg, Bendtner insisted he is still "hungry for football" and at 29, the Denmark international is just about on his last chance to turn his career around.

GFX Nicklas Bendtner Goals Stats

Bendtner has already scored more league goals (3) in seven weeks at Rosenborg than he managed in each of his past five seasons, as Kare Ingebrigtsen's side have surged into a six-point lead at the top of the Eliteserien.

Wenger backs Bendtner to shine at Forest

But it will be in Europe that Bendtner will be truly judged if he harbours ambitions to play in a big league again.

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"Bendtner's the best player I've played with," Gersbach said.

"The media made a big splash about [him when he signed] and so they should. He's a top-class player and you can see at training and during the games that he's played at a high level."

Rosenborg will celebrate their 100th birthday on May 19.

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