When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer moved into coaching, taking over his old club Molde, his first batch of signings included a teenager from Michigan named Joshua Gatt. As of Sunday, the duo has now won consecutive titles in Norway.
To cap Gatt's celebratory weekend, Jurgen Klinsmann called him into the U.S. team that will face Russia on Wednesday. If Gatt plays, it will mark his first international appearance.
"This is a big step in my career that, hopefully, I can repeat over and over again," Gatt told Goal.com.
Of course, the 21-year-old has already experienced the call-up part. Gatt had to pull out of the roster to play Jamaica in World Cup qualifying because of a hamstring injury. "We had hoped to add a new element to our team with him," Klinsmann said at the time.
Despite the disappointment, even that milestone is branded in Gatt's memory. Molde had beaten Heerenveen 2-1 on Aug. 30 in the Europa League, with Gatt assisting the first goal.
"My mom and my aunts were there in Holland when Ole came over to us after the game and told me the news. We were all thrilled," he said. All that stood between him and a trip to Jamaica was a match against Brann. "My flight was booked, I was ready to go but I had a league game yet to play. Late in that game I tweaked my hamstring again. I was really devastated."
Molde lost 4-1 to Brann and the United States lost 2-1 to Jamaica. Gatt missed nearly a month of matches, but not his chance.
"I talked a few times with Jurgen," Gatt said. "He just wanted to see how I was progressing with my rehabilitation. He also helped get me to a specialist for treatment and a proactive plan going forward. I am really looking forward to finally being on the field and coached by him with all the guys."
Klinsmann will be the second world-renowned former striker to coach Gatt. Solskjaer made an art out of scoring off the bench in a decade at Manchester United before coaching the reserve side.
Gatt lists finishing and a quicker snap-shot from close range as two areas he's currently trying to improve. He's in luck: Few coaches were as clinical as Klinsmann or Solskjaer.
"Ole is a very demanding coach," Gatt said. "He has played with, for and against the best of the best and that is what he demands of us – our best at all times while we are on the pitch. But, he is also a great guy."
Solskjaer brought Gatt to Norway after the winger had spent only six months in Europe, with Austrian side Rheindorf Altach. Gatt skipped college and MLS and is working his way up the European leagues.
"I am very happy with my career progression at this point," Gatt said. "I came to Europe to a small Division II side in Austria (Altach) with a ton to learn. I moved quickly to Molde and am fortunate to be coached by a legend."
With luck, Norway won't be his last stop either.
"I am really happy at Molde and love playing here but I want to play against the best of the best, and to do that I would need to play in bigger leagues," he said.
As Gatt works on "the rest of the basics – trapping, one touch, etc." to improve his overall game, he already has a useful weapon. The speedster claims he can run 100 meters in 11 seconds flat. Two of his highlight goals (he has six total this season) were blazing runs from deep in his own half, up the right flank, and past countless defenders left flat-footed.
His career run has already rounded Europe and now into the national team. Gatt has played in the Champions League and the Europa League (Molde has three points from four games, and will likely need to win its last two to advance out of the group stages). He says the team will be more prepared for the Champions League next year.
"Molde is a really talented team," Gatt said. "There are some guys on this squad that will be playing at a very high level in the near future."
Yeah. And Gatt plans to be among them.
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