Norway women's national football team

Norway women's national football team
Nickname(s) Gresshoppene (The Grasshoppers) (1995)
Association Football Association of Norway
(Norges Fotballforbund)
Head coach Norway Eli Landsem
Captain Ingvild Stensland
Most caps Hege Riise (188)
Top scorer Marianne Pettersen (66)
FIFA ranking 12
Highest FIFA ranking 2 (July 2003)
Lowest FIFA ranking 12 (September 2011)
Home colours
Away colours
First international
 Sweden 2 – 1 Norway 
Kolding, Denmark; July 7, 1978
Biggest win
 Norway 17 – 0 Slovakia 
Ulefoss, Norway; September 19, 1995
Biggest defeat
 Sweden 5 – 0 Norway 
Norrköping, Sweden; 22 August 1985
 China PR 5 – 0 Norway 
Foxboro, United States; 4 July 1999
World Cup
Appearances 5 (First in 1991)
Best result Champions, 1995
UEFA Women's Championship
Appearances 9 (First in 1984)
Best result Champions 1993
Olympic medal record
Women's Football
Bronze 1996 Atlanta Team
Gold 2000 Sydney Team

The Norway women's national football team represents Norway in international women's football. The team, controlled by the Football Association of Norway, are former European, World and Olympic champions and thus one of the most successful national teams. New players are recruited from around the globe, and heavily from Toppserien, the top women's football league in Norway.



Norway women's national football team emerged in 1978, which was relatively early for Western Europe, but late for the Nordic countries, beating only Iceland. Having little culture for official clubs and a series system, Norway had a lot to do to catch up to especially Sweden and Denmark. Their early history therefore consisted of losing to their neighbours and eventually beating Northern Ireland for their first ever win.

A power to be reckoned with

Eventually, Norway marked themselves as one of the better countries in Europe, if inferior to their Nordic neighbours. They beat England, France and Switzerland. In the first qualification for the European Competition for Representative Women's Teams (later renamed UEFA Women's Championship), Norway played opposite Sweden, Finland and Iceland. Norway lost both matches against Sweden, but beat Finland over both matches. A surprising home draw against Iceland mattered little, Norway took the second spot in a qualification where only the best teams qualified. Sweden later won the Euros.

The start of the golden years

Norway seemed to have problems with Sweden, and they lost 0–5, their biggest loss to date (if repeated later) shortly afterwards. Compared to other teams, however, Norway improved, and they beat Denmark and West Germany in the qualification for the 1987 Euros. The Euros, consisting as the men's Euros had been until 1980 of two semi finals and a final played in one of the countries qualified for it. In this case, Norway was the host for the four matches. Norway beat Italy in the semifinals and met Sweden in the finals. The finals was the first time Norway beat Sweden in a match, as Norway won 2–1. This made the national football team the first Norwegian sports team ever to have won anything, eleven years ahead of the Norway women's national handball team.

Norway continued to win the next year as they beat Sweden again in a final in an invitational and unofficial world cup in China. In the 1989 Euros Norway made the finals against West Germany, but this time lost 1–4. After that loss the coaches resigned, leaving the helm to Even Pellerud. Pellerud saw Norway progress to the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup. Before the first official world cup, Norway made it to the fourth (and Norway's third in a row) final of the Euros, where Norway again met Germany. Germany won in extra time. In the World cup Norway made it to the semifinals, where they lost to the USA.

Following that, Pellerud led the team to the 1993 Euros. Norway beat Denmark in the semifinals and Italy in the finals, winning their second Euros. Norway followed up with winning the 1994 Algarve Cup, the first ever to be arranged. The focus the next year was the World Cup and its antecedent Euros, which also functioned as a qualifier for the World Cup. Norway met Italy already in the quarter finals, and won it. Sweden managed to come back and thrash Norway in the second semifinal in Sweden, winning 5–7 after two matches. Norway was still qualified for the World Cup.

World Champions and beyond

The 1995 World cup in Sweden is part of Norwegian sports heritage. Norway won all their matches in the group stage, and continued to meet an unconvincing Denmark in the quarter finals. Norway was up 3–0 with five minutes to go, and while conceding a goal a minute later, Norway was never threatened. The next encounter for Norway was the USA, and in a close match, USA could never respond to an early goal by Ann Kristin Aarønes, and the USA lost their first official international tournament. Norway met Germany in the finals. Having lost two Euro finals, Norway were not among the favourites, but they defeated Germany by two goals scored within the space of four minutes, becoming world champions. Pellerud resigned shortly afterwards.

From the first women's football in the Olympic Games, it was considered equal with the world cup in rank. Norway qualified as a matter of course because of their win in the World Cup. Norway drew with Brazil, and beat Germany and Japan, proceeding to the semi finals. There they lost to the USA after extra time, but won the bronze medal after defeating Brazil.

The 1997 Euros turned out to be a big disappointment for the ruling world champions at home, and Norway only made it to the semi finals. This was the last time the two-year gap was used, making it easier to focus on the two competitions separately. Norway eased through to the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup, where they beat all their opposition in the group stage. They met Sweden in the quarter finals, proving that now Norway had the upper hand by beating them 3–1. Surprisingly, Norway lost heavily to China, who won 5–0, thus equaling the embarrassment Sweden defeated Norway some 13 years earlier. In the bronze final, Norway lost to Brazil on penalties in front of a record 90,185 spectators.

Norway was not among the biggest favourites to win the Sydney Olympics. They started off losing to the USA, but picked up nicely by beating Nigeria and China, the latter by one goal. In the semi finals Norway beat Germany with a lucky own goal by Tina Wunderlich after Germany pressed the Norwegians for the better part of the match. The final saw Norway against heavy favourites USA in an even match. Tiffeny Milbrett took the lead for the USA, but Norway equaled the score by Gro Espeseth and kept USA in the game with a good keeper in Bente Nordby. Norway took the lead in the match via a header by Ragnhild Gulbrandsen, but Milbrett scored in stoppage time to prolong the match to extra time with golden goal. Norway scored the winner in what seemed like a handball.[1] The coach Per-Mathias Høgmo quit after achieving this feat.


Åge Steen took over as coach, but under his tutelage, things went from top to mediocre. In the 2001 Euros Norway's play was lackluster, and while making it to the semi finals thanks to the French national team, Norway lost clearly to Germany. In the 2003 World Cup Norway disappointed with a fumbling 1–4 to Brazil in the group stage before losing to USA in the quarter finals. As Greece was arranging the 2004 Summer Olympics, there were only two additional spots for European teams, and Sweden and Germany, who both proceeded to the finals, took them. Steen continued for another year, as stipulated by his contract, but was replaced in late 2004.

The new coach was Bjarne Berntsen, and he took things up a notch by succeeding in making it to the final in the 2005 Euros, where again Germany defeated Norway. He continued to produce reasonable results, but it seemed as if he cared little for the Algarve Cup, in which Norway slipped in results. Berntsen saw Norway through to the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, but the performance there was acceptable at best. Norway drew with Australia and barely beat Canada. Norway progressed to the semi-finals at the expense of China, but lost, again, to Germany with 0–3. In the bronze final Norway lost with another disappointing 1–4.

From there things started to unravel for Bjarne Berntsen. First he was criticized for telling Lise Klaveness that she had no future in the national team under him on the airport after hours of flight. During the Beijing Olympics, where Norway first impressively beat USA, then disappointingly lost to Japan with an embarrassing 1–5 and went out in the quarter finals against Brazil, he came off as blaming everyone and taking little responsibility for the losses. In October 2008, five players refused to play at the National Team, making convoluted comments that playing under Berntsen was too much of a burden. This led to a media outcry unparalleled in any women's football news coverage to date,[citation needed] including the gold in the World cup and the Olympics. With a reduced team, also due to less controversial resignations from the national team. Norway produced a relatively good result at the 2009 UEFA Women's Championship, even with an embarrassing 0–4 against Germany and a modest 1–0 against Iceland and 1–1 against France. After that championship, Berntsen resigned.

Eli Landsem, the first woman coach and the first coach with experience from coaching women's football, took over. Under her the players who were ousted by or boycotted Berntsen have returned. Landsem has in a short time produced acceptable results with the national team, all but qualifying them to the 2011 FIFA World Cup playoff after winning all but one of the matches in their qualification group.


Performance in the World Cup

Performance in the Olympic Games

  • 1996 – 3rd place
  • 2000Champions
  • 2004Did not qualify
  • 2008 – Quarter-finals
  • 2012Did not qualify

Performance in European Championship

  • 1984 : preliminary round
  • 1987 : Champions
  • 1989 : Runners up
  • 1991 : Runners up
  • 1993 : Champions
  • 1995 : Semi-finals
  • 1997 : Quarter-finals
  • 2001 : Semi-finals
  • 2005 : Runners up
  • 2009 : 3rd place


  • 1978–1982: Per Pettersen
  • 1987–1989: Erling Hokstad/Dag Steinar Vestlund
  • 1983–1989: Erling Hokstad
  • 1989–1996: Even Pellerud
  • 1996–2000: Per-Mathias Høgmo
  • 2000–2004: Åge Steen
  • 2005–2009: Bjarne Berntsen
  • 2009–: Eli Landsem

Current squad

The Norwegian team was announced on 27 May 2011.[2] 19 places were named with two spots left open. After Lise Klaveness and Lene Storløkken won't be able to play at the 2011 World Cup due to injuries, Landsem announced her squad on 11 June.[3] Lisa Marie Woods was replaced by Kristine Wigdahl Hegland due to an hip injury.[4]

0#0 Pos. Player Date of Birth (Age) Caps Goals Club
1 GK Ingrid Hjelmseth 10 April 1980 (aged 31) 44 0 Norway Stabæk Fotball
2 DF Nora Holstad Berge 26 March 1987 (aged 24) 5 0 Sweden Linköpings FC
3 DF Maren Mjelde 6 November 1989 (aged 21) 31 1 Norway Arna-Bjørnar
4 MF Ingvild Stensland 3 August 1981 (aged 29) 101 5 France Olympique Lyonnais
5 MF Marita Skammelsrud Lund 29 January 1989 (aged 22) 19 0 Norway LSK Kvinner FK
6 MF Kristine Wigdahl Hegland 8 August 1992 (aged 18) 0 0 Norway Arna-Bjornar
7 DF Trine Bjerke Rønning 14 June 1982 (aged 29) 111 15 Norway Stabæk Fotball
8 DF Runa Vikestad 13 August 1984 (aged 26) 14 1 Norway Kolbotn Fotball
9 FW Isabell Herlovsen 23 June 1988 (aged 23) 63 19 Norway LSK Kvinner FK
10 FW Cecilie Pedersen 14 September 1990 (aged 20) 20 8 Norway Avaldsnes IL
11 MF Leni Larsen Kaurin 21 March 1981 (aged 30) 80 4 Germany VfL Wolfsburg
12 GK Erika Skarbø 12 June 1987 (aged 24) 15 0 Norway Arna-Bjørnar
13 MF Madeleine Giske 14 September 1987 (aged 23) 15 1 Norway Arna-Bjørnar
14 MF Gry Tofte Ims 2 March 1986 (aged 25) 7 0 Norway Klepp IL
15 DF Hedda Strand Gardsjord 28 June 1982 (aged 28) 22 0 Norway Røa IL
16 FW Elise Thorsnes 14 August 1988 (aged 22) 40 6 Norway Røa IL
17 FW Lene Mykjåland 20 February 1987 (aged 24) 35 8 Norway Røa IL
18 MF Guro Knutsen Mienna 10 January 1985 (aged 26) 27 3 Norway Røa IL
19 FW Emilie Haavi 16 June 1992 (aged 19) 7 4 Norway Røa IL
20 DF Ingrid Ryland 29 May 1989 (aged 22) 6 0 Norway Arna-Bjørnar
21 GK Caroline Knutsen 21 November 1983 (aged 27) 4 0 Norway Røa IL


  1. ^ Norway's golden goal dethrones United States – AFP
  2. ^ "Norwegens WM- Kader steht" (Press release). 2011-05-27. Retrieved 2011-05-27. 
  3. ^ "Norwegen: Klaveness muss passen" (Press release). 2011-06-11. Retrieved 2011-06-11. 
  4. ^ "Norway Lisa-Marie Woods has sustained a hip injury and is out of FIFA Women's World Cup 2011". 24 June 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
1991 United States 
World Champions
1995 (First title)
Succeeded by
1999 United States 
Preceded by
1996 United States 
Olympic Champions
2000 (First title)
Succeeded by
2004 United States 
Preceded by
1984 Sweden 
European Champions
1987 (First title)
Succeeded by
1989 West Germany 
Preceded by
1991 Germany 
European Champions
1993 (Second title)
Succeeded by
1995 Germany 

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