by Mike Forrest

Texas is renowned for American football, famous for the Alamo and known for its Oil Wells but not football (the proper kind of football). It is rather interesting then that Texas is the birthplace of two established Premier League players, which is no mean feat. Even more interesting is that these two players play for the same club. Step forward Brede Hangeland and Clint Dempsey.

Both players possess a dogged determination. This characteristic was instilled from childhood but for different reasons. Dempsey a product of trailer park life was forced to give up football due to his family’s time and money constraints. Luckily for Clint, and Fulham, his talent was so apparent that his team mate’s parents of then club Dallas Texans made it possible for Clint to continue his game. Clint’s biography reads like an unoriginal underdog story that has been regurgitated over the years. However this is one story that Hollywood producers might want to sit up and take note of.

Hangeland, born in Texas but raised in Norway, had a comfortable upbringing but this did not dilute his desire to be a success and to make the most of his talent. Despite originating from very different backgrounds, both Brede and Clint share similar traits. As well as an unyielding determination, both are very loyal. Brede made over a 100 appearances for Viking and 60 appearances for Cophenhagen whilst Clint made over 70 appearances for New England Revolution, before deciding the time was right to test themselves in the Premier League and joining Fulham. If ever there were two players that represent the values of the club that they play for, it is these two. Clint and Brede, much like Fulham, go about their business in an understated yet an unrelenting efficient manner.

The amazing season that followed earned both players a permanent place in the hearts of Fulham fans.

Both players joined the club in similar circumstances. Clint joined in the 2007 January Transfer Window with Fulham battling relegation, Brede joined in the 2008 January Window with the club desperately battling relegation. In retrospect, it is rather strange that a club battling relegation were able to sign two well regarded players. Although Clint looked at times out of his depth and didn’t make an immediate impact, he did score the winning goal against Liverpool which in essence kept Fulham in the league and brought Neil Warnock’s infamous wrath onto Rafa Benitez over Benitez’ team selection. Brede, although not outstanding, played an important role in Fulham’s great escape in the 2007/2008 season.

By the time Brede had joined Clint at Fulham, Clint was now being managed by his third manager of the club in the space of a year. Coleman bought him, before Sanchez’ unsuccessful stint as a Premier League boss and then Roy Hodgson was in charge. He had not flourished under Coleman and Sanchez but success came in the form of Hodgson’s rigid, systematic play. At first, he was underappreciated by Hodgson but his quality shone through and he was rightfully holding down a permanent place in the team in the 2008/2009 season. This was Clint’s first full season at the club where his progress wasn’t disrupted by managerial changes and a return of 7 league goals in 35 appearances was a healthy contribution. Likewise Brede’s quality was shining through. He provided an organisation and calmness that the Fulham defence had been yearning for years, whilst also showing he had all the attributes of being a top Premier League center half with his excellent reading of the game, passing, heading and tackling abilities coming to the fore.

The amazing season that followed earned both players a permanent place in the hearts of Fulham fans. Both played a prominent role in earning Fulham a respectable 12th place finish in the league, but more importantly both were integral to guiding Fulham to the Europa League final. Both put in stellar performances that will live long in the memory. While Brede was building on his previous season’s good work, Clint was starting to come into his own.

Dempsey also has the Steven Gerrard knack of scoring really important goals.

Clint, a player of great skill, technique and heading ability, was now becoming more consistent and this was key to his progress as a player. Before he would blow hot and cold, under Hodgson he was blowing hot and luke warm, rarely cold. Dempsey also has the Steven Gerrard knack of scoring really important goals. From the aforementioned goal against Liverpool, to that chip against Juventus, to this season’s hat trick against Newcastle, Clint has often been at the right place and the right time for Fulham. However just as Clint is starting to get plaudits and admirers, and rightly so, for his excellent performances over the seasons, it is important to remember just how Brede’s contribution has been equally as excellent. For every important goal Clint has scored, Brede has made an excellent tackle. For every assist Clint has conjured, Brede inevitably has done something equally as vital.

So why then, if they are so good, haven’t bigger clubs bought them? Well I have a few theories.

1) They are victims of circumstance, particularly Brede. Brede was linked heavily with a move to Arsenal several seasons ago, but Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy of not spending big money on players with no resale value ended that link. Now due to Brede’s importance to Fulham and his age, it is even more unlikely that any club will match what Fulham value him at. In a utopian world, I see Brede taking over as captain in future years and solidifying his place as a Fulham icon. As for Clint, he has only really been noticed this season as a genuine quality player. I’m sure he’ll be the subject of much speculation during the summer window. Due to the past few seasons being Fulham’s most successful in the Premiership there was no other club to move too, if Champions League clubs weren’t coming in for them, that wouldn’t be seen as a sideways move.

If a team manages to pry him off of Fulham’s books, they’ll be lucky to have him.

2) As mentioned earlier above, both players are loyal. Both being in a successful team and on good contracts, it doesn’t seem in either’s nature to try and engineer a move away. They know they have it good at Fulham, so why try and disrupt that if Champions League Clubs aren’t coming in for them.

3) Maybe they aren’t as good as I think they are? Well this is an obvious question. But they truly are good enough to represent a champions league standard club. Whilst neither are world class nor are blessed with pace in abundance, they are solid, very good footballers. Maybe the ship has sailed for Brede for a move to a bigger club but for Clint there is still time. Clint, although enigmatic at times on the pitch as regards to his best position, has the drive and ability to make himself a success in a Champions League team and if a team manages to pry him off of Fulham’s books, they’ll be lucky to have him.

Clint and Brede Stats and Facts:

Clint has had 5 different managers in 6 seasons at the club. Brede has had 3 in 4 seasons.

Together they have accumulated 413 appearances for Fulham in all competitions.

Brede has 11 goals in all competitions for Fulham, Clint has 54.

In the league they have started together 120 times.

When starting a league game together Fulham have a record of 39 draws, 40 wins and 41 losses. In percentage terms, when Clint and Brede start a league game together Fulham have 32.5% draws, 33.33% victories and 34.1% losses.