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Selnaes hoping to shine at Old Trafford like his hero Solskjaer

By Mark Staniforth

Ole Selnaes, like thousands of other Norwegians, is a Manchester United fan - but this one could be lining up against his idols at Old Trafford tonight.

An intelligent midfielder, the 22-year-old is an important cog in the St Etienne side that faces United in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 clash.

Selnaes has become a growing influence with Les Verts since leaving hometown club Rosenborg last year in order to pit his wits against Ligue 1's best.

"English football and Manchester United is really, really big in Norway," Selnaes said. "The Premier League is by far the most popular league in Norway and when I grew up we had some Norwegians at Manchester United, so obviously I followed them.

"I have been to some games when I was a little kid, but that's a long time ago. Of course it is going to be a special moment. It's one of the most special stadiums in the world."

Ronny Johnsen and Henning Berg were among the Norwegians to enjoy success at Old Trafford, but for a boy called Ole his favourite United player was obvious.

"One of my favourites was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer," Selnaes said.

"When I grew up, he was in his prime and did really well. He was maybe the greatest player in Norway at that time."

Such stars are lacking from the national side nowadays, but the current crop are beginning to play regularly at a higher level.

Selnaes - currently unavailable for his country due to a Fifa ban for insulting a match official - has enjoyed the challenges presented by moving to St Etienne, currently fifth in their league.

"We have fantastic fans, a great atmosphere," Selnaes said. "I feel like the football and the club is really, really important in the city.

"When you live in St Etienne, you have a relationship to the club and understand that the club is really important. It's a special city.

"It's good for us to start away and finish at home. We will try to play our way. We have to try to respect their strengths, but we're not that kind of team who just plays defensively 90 minutes."

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