Claus Lundekvam

#2460656 /

Claus Lundekvam was a Norwegian defender who was born in Austevoll, Norway on 22nd February 1973. Lundekvam began his career with Brann, making his senior debut with the club in 1993. After a number of impressive displays which saw him win his first International cap in 1995, Lundekvam was transferred to Southampton in August 1996 for the bargain price of £400,000. Lundekvam made his debut for a Saints side managed by Graeme Souness on 4th September in a 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest. The tall Norwegian immediately adapted to his new surroundings at The Dell, impressing Saints fans and staff alike with his composed displays from the back.

Lundekvam remained a regular in the heart of the Southampton defence for eleven years. The Norway international was an important player in the early years, as the club often battled against relegation. After a spell on the sidelines during the second half of the 1999/2000 season, Lundekvam was an ever present during the following campaign, and helped Glenn Hoddle's side to a record breaking run of seven clean sheets between January and March 2001, forming a formidable partnership with Dean Richards.

Lundekvam continued to be one of the clubs top performers in 2001/02 when the South Coast side moved to the brand new St Marys stadium. In 2002/03 the former Brann man had one of his best ever seasons for Saints. Along with new central defensive partner Michael Svensson, Lundekvam helped Saints to an 8th placed finish and an FA Cup final. Gordon Strachan's Southampton had one of the meanest defences in the land in 2003, but the FA Cup final nearly ended in complete disaster for Lundekvam after less than a minute. Just seconds after the kick off in Cardiff on 17th May, Arsenal's Thierry Henry was clear through on goal with Lundekvam furiously pulling on the Frenchman's shirt. Had Henry gone down, as he was entitled to do, Arsenal would have had a penalty and Lundekvam would have almost certainly been red carded. Henry stayed on his feet however, and failed to find the net, meaning Lundekvam remained on the field for the duration. (Arsenal of course later went on to win 1-0).

Lundekvam's form was exemplary for most of 2003/04. After over seven years and hundreds of appearances, Lundekvam finally scored his first ever goal for the club on 3rd April at Wolves in a 4-1 win (Former manager Gordon Strachan had once joked Lundekvam should be booked for time wasting when going up for corners). Without fellow Scandinavian Michael Svensson by his side in 2004/05 (Svensson was injured in the warm up on March 21st 2004 at Fratton Park) Lundekvam struggled badly, and had by far his worst ever season in a Southampton shirt. The Norwegian regularly made mistakes during the campaign and often looked lost at the back alongside a variety of different centre back partners. His dreadful performance in the disgraceful 4-1 loss to rivals Portsmouth on 24th April 2005 summed up his season. Lundekvam completely bottled it that day, and could do nothing to stop the club from being relegated to the Championship.

Fortunately Lundekvam bounced back brilliantly from his awful relegation season form in 2005/06. The Lundekvam of old was back in Southampton's first season outside the top flight in 27 years. Lundekvam was extremely consistent and was deservedly named the clubs player of the season. He performed equally well in 2006/07, in the heart of defence alongside Chris Baird. Lundekvam's final appearance for the club came on May 6th 2007 against Southend.He had to be substituted after injuring his ankle. He would never play for the club again. On 25th March 2008 Lundekvam announced his retirement. His testimonial against Celtic was held in July 2008.

Unfortunately, Lundekvam has so far failed to adapt well to life after football. In May 2009 he was arrested for drink driving. Lundekvam pleaded guilty to the charge after crashing his Audi Quattro Q7 into the back of a van on the M3 near Winchester after drinking more than a bottle of wine at a charity dinner. The former Saints captain had also fled the scene after the accident. He was given a 28 month driving ban and 250 hours of community service.

In April 2010 Lundekvam was arrested by police on suspicion of possessing drugs. The former defender had his home raided by cops.

In May 2010 Lundekvam pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman who he had gone into business with. He became 'irate' at 37 year old Karen Rogers when she asked him for money to pay rent on a photographic studio they set up. Lundekvam, who was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the attack, accused Rogers of deleting numbers from his phone before pushing her towards the door. He was fined £500 and ordered to pay £100 costs.

Lundekvam later appeared on TV in Norway and broke down in tears, admitting he had a serious drink and drug addiction that had ruined his life.