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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Remember Them?.. Ben Olsen




Ben Olsen only had a short lived career with Nottingham Forest. On loan from D.C United of the MLS, he joined the Reds in October 2000, for an initial 3 month loan. He impressed so much Forest extended that loan.
A winger signed by David Platt, his forward running dribbling style and good delivery made him popular fans early on. Taking a short while to adjust to the faster pace of the English game. It was at a time Forest seemed to be building relations with the MLS having also acquired Stern John previously from the League. The Reds saw it as a ready made market for raw hungry players, wanting to step up and make a name in Europe.
Olsen had made a number of American caps (enough to warren a work permit anyway)and so wasn't a complete unknown, having made his international bow in 1998 for the USA.
Olsens arrival coincided with a pick up in form. This was in the dark days of the Platt era where Forest would frequently infuriate the fans. Platt seemed to have learned from his past exploits of signing his old Italians mates and was casting his net wide to find the quality of player needed, which was a hit and miss period. Signings like Tony Vaughan didn't work out, whilst Jim Brennan would go onto be a success.
Olsen so impressed there was talk of the move being made permanent, for a fee beleived to be around £1.5million. This would have surely been a good deal. Even for Platts amazing skills of negotiation. However Olsen would receive a bad ankle injury against Barnsley that not only ended his loan spell but almost ended his career. It would take nigh on 18 months for him to recover. By which time Platt was gone from Forest and the chance of a deal gone. Reading a little of his history the injury seemed to change Olsen as a player from a winger into a central midfielder. Olsen is an MLS legend. He was named Assitant Coach at D.C United after his retirement, and is now interim Head Coach after the dismissal of the former incumbent.
For me personally, Olsen excited me as a player. I was away from Nottinghamshire at the time studying at Liverpool University, so would only see occasional games of the Reds. I remember specifically him changing the game at Stockport County away on a soaking wet day when he came on, taking us from 1-0 down, and us winning 2-1 (Jack Lester I think scored the winner) In days when I'd go to a game and not recognise many players, due to a very high turnover in those days, he was a player that did stand out. I only wish that injury hadn't occurred as I think Olsen could have gone on to be a Forest legend of the Steve Stone ilk. A hard working winger who pleased the fans.
Olsen made 18 appearences for the Reds, scoring 2 goals. He spent the rest of his career with D.C United. He also played 37 times for the United States, scoring 6 goals, and being named in the 2006 World Cup Squad.

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