After moving onto Vikings FK in Norway, Gianni Stensness spoke to our overseas correspondent Anton Tagliaferro on life after the Mariners.
Hi Gianni thanks for joining us today. Give us some background on the club you are playing for in Norway and how you have adapted to life there ?
I am playing for Vikings in Norway – Vikings is one of the oldest clubs in Norway and we are based in a city in Norway called Stavanger, which is the 3rd largest city in Norway with a population of 200-300,000 people. We have a very passionate supporter base and regularly get between 10-16,000 spectators to our home games. This season we are currently lying 3rd in the league which could mean qualification for the Europa League qualifiers which would be a great accomplishment for the club and playing in an international competition like the Europa League is something I am clearly looking forward to if it happens.
What would you say is the key difference between the Norwegian League and the A-League and how have you settled in?
I would say the standard of football here is higher than the A-League although the game is not as quick paced as the A-League. I think the A-League relies more on energy and physicality and I feel that the experience in Australia has helped me greatly in developing that part of my game which I have brought over here with me and which is really appreciated over here. I have fit in well at the club – the people here have been really good to me and I am a regular starter in the team now and have played 12 or 13 games in a row and I feel I have become one of the key players in the team.
This year you are playing for the Vikings as a centre back as opposed to the defensive midfield holding role that you played at the Mariners – how was the transition and which position do you prefer ?
To be honest I found the transition relatively easy – I played as a centre back in my appearances in the Olympics for New Zealand where I believe I put in some good performances and I feel comfortable playing in the role. Clearly as a centre back you cannot take any risks which is fine – although I do occasionally miss playing in midfield where one is able to express oneself creatively a bit more.
And how did it feel to be selected for the Socceroos squad in the recent World Cup games ?
It was a great privilege to be selected for the Socceroos squad in the recent World Cup games vs China and Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to play as the way both games turned out, Arnie had to make attacking changes as we were chasing a win in both games. Having said this, I understand that I am a young player with a lot to offer in future as I really believe in myself and am looking forward to more opportunities to represent Australia as we go into 2022.
How do you look back on your time at the Mariners and what were the biggest influences in your time there ?
I have very fond memories of my time at the Mariners and I feel I really developed well as a player having spent three and a half years at the club, one and a half years in the Academy playing NPL and two years playing as a professional in the A-League. Obviously last season when we managed to finish in third place was my most memorable, and I felt that contributed well to this achievement. I really have to thank Ollie Bozanic, Marco Urena and Matty Simon for last season – as they were all great leaders and mentors last season to the younger players in the squad like me. I will always follow the Mariners closely no matter where I play in future and the club will always have a special place in my heart.