Midfielder Marek Sapara is not too sad that Rosenborg BK have dropped down into the UEFA Cup, saying the Norwegian side now "have a better chance to go further".
Marek Sapara is not too sad that Rosenborg BK have dropped down into the UEFA Cup, saying the Norwegian side now "have a better chance to go further".
The Slovakian midfielder will line up against ACF Fiorentina in the first leg of Rosenborg's UEFA Cup Round of 32 first leg after narrowly missing out on a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League. It may be a step down in the world, but Sapara is not disappointed, saying: "For us is better to play in the UEFA Cup. We have a better chance to go further than in the Champions League."
Born in Kosice, the 28-year-old has excelled since moving to Trondheim in the summer of 2006. Having just won the Slovakian title with MFK Ružomberok, he arrived at Rosenborg just in time to help them claim the Norwegian crown in the same year. "Two titles in a few months," he remembered as he looked ahead to his third season in Norway. "Unbelievable times."
Sapara's control and skill from free-kicks has seen him compared to David Beckham and he has rapidly become a crowd favourite at the Lerkendal Stadium. "The people of Trondheim want to give me Norwegian citizenship, they like the way I play so much," he said. "Trondheim is perfect place to play football apart from the weather. It's unpredictable and I don't like it so much."
A fifth-placed finish in the Norwegian league marked a disappointing return for Rosenborg in 2007 but after pre-season training in Spain, 'Sapi' says his side are determined to make amends. "I play for the most successful team in the country," he said. "Of course, we want to win the title again and I hope to play well for Slovakia too. Last season for Slovakia wasn't so good."
Having scored twice in 13 appearances for Slovakia, Sapara is now well established with his national team, and has also earned place from former Rosenborg midfield hero Bent Skammelsrud, who said: "He has great technique and he is fantastic when it comes to free-kicks or corners. I cannot how Sapara could be anything other than a success." Rosenborg can only hope tonight's result against Fiorentina will prove him right.