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Two decades ago Even Pellerud coached Norway to victory in the UEFA European Women's Championship and now he is back in charge to try and recover a trophy Germany won in 1995 and have held ever since.
Pellerud's Norway beat Germany in the FIFA Women's World Cup final a few months later, but he was to leave the next year, 1996, among other teams coaching Canada and Trinidad and Tobago.
Late last year Pellerud returned to the Norway helm as Eli Landsem's successor and he talked to UEFA.com about his UEFA Women's EURO 2013 aims, with Germany among their Group B opponents as they start tomorrow against Iceland in Kalmar.
UEFA.com: How does it feel to be back as Norway coach?
Even Pellerud: It feels very good. It wasn't a job I was pursuing, but when the chance came up I was very motivated by being one of the candidates, and it's important to me to try and return the team to the strength they had in the 90s. I have a lot of energy and I'm very motivated.
UEFA.com: How has the game developed since you were last coach?
Pellerud: We've seen an incredible development, overall and also in women's football. There were a number of good teams in the 90s, but there are now many, many more teams on the same level or higher. The current Norwegian team is actually better than the one I coached in 1995, for the World Cup – when it comes to speed on the ball, the understanding of the game, passing play, it's on a much higher level today. And it's not just Norway who have improved, there are a whole host of other nations who have become better. And there are many who might become European champions.
UEFA.com: Solveig Gulbrandsen came out of retirement. How much can a player like that influence the team?
Pellerud: Of course, when a player has taken a break, and has had time to reflect and found out that this is what she wants, then you have a true drive with a lot of energy hidden there. I had a talk with her and we agreed this was still a real possibility. Here we have a young lady with a lot of experience and understanding of the game. I'm just happy that Solveig wants to be a part of it.
UEFA.com: How do you rate Germany?
Pellerud: Germany have established themselves at a very high level, they are quite dominant, not that they are completely in control, but they continually produce great talents, new stars, and it's a nation that has created a football culture. Not least when you watch a training match, a friendly. In Germany, no matter who they are playing, the stadium is packed. They have 18–23 players, which is an indication of the extent of this culture. We have something similar in Sweden, and in Norway, but perhaps Germany is slightly in front as a football nation compared to other countries.
UEFA.com: How do you rate the other teams in the group, Iceland and the Netherlands?
Pellerud: Regarding the Netherlands, they're a team still missing a bit to be on Germany's level, but they can challenge both Norway and Germany – on a good day. Then there's Iceland. They have come a long way in the European elite. They have been playing around the world and in Europe and have accumulated a lot of experience at the top level. And that's a great benefit for them. They are a sturdy team with many profiles, a tough Icelandic attitude and strong physique.
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