GoalkeeperColin Burns says he is settling in nicely with Norwegian 1. Division club Sandefjord and expects to be part of a promotion race for the second consecutive year.
Burns spent all of last season at Sarpsborg where he served as the backup goalkeeper on a team that earned automatic promotion to the Eliteserien for its second place finish in the 2010 1. Division.
Now Burns finds himself back in Norway's second flight but this time on-loan with Sandefjord, a team that was relegated last season from the Eliteserien.
"Life here in Sandefjord is great," Burns recently told YA. "I'm enjoying every minute of my new seaside home. From the people in the city to the atmosphere around the club, I couldn't ask for a better situation."
How the Newark, Delaware native ended up at Sandefjord was a series of twists and turns involving work permit issues and interest in his services from both Sarpsborg and Sandefjord for the 2011 season.
"I was having some trouble obtaining a new work permit for the 2011 season," Burns explained. "We applied in November and still had not heard anything by January. At that point, myself and the club [Sarpsborg] felt that I would not get my work permit so we started to look for a loan move.
"Sandefjord showed interest so I started training with them," he continued. "During my first week with Sandefjord, my work permit was granted to play with Sarpsborg. By this time, Sandefjord wanted me and Sarpsborg wanted me to come back so it was a tough decision."
When it was all said and done, the former Ljungskile man opted to stay with Sandefjord where he feels very comfortable and enjoys playing for Irish coach Patrick Walker, one of Norway's most respected head coaches.
"There was the allure of playing in the Elitserien with Sarpsborg but once I came to Sandefjord, I knew where I wanted to play," he affirmed. "It's a much bigger club than Sarpsborg so in the end, it wasn't about Eliteserien versus 1. Division, it was about choosing the situation that would make me a better [soccer] player in the long term. Having an Irish head coach, and one of the best goalkeeper coaches in Norway was also an incentive to make the change."
Sandefjord's 2010 ended in major disappointment as the club only managed two wins on the campaign. That came on the heels of a surprising 2009 season that saw them finish eighth in the Eliteserien standings.
But with a new season comes new hope and Burns is confident that Sandefjord can return to Norway's top level.
If that were to happen, that would give the former University of Massachusetts standout the rare feat of achieivng promotion with two different clubs in successive seasons.
"We are looking very good this preseason," Burns said of the squad. "We have a few new additions to the team and will have one of the most experienced rosters in the league. Our only goal this season is promotion. We've proved it in the past that we can go down and come right back up so we hope to do it again. Personally, I am going for two successive promotion seasons."
As it stands now, Burns will start the season on the bench as the second-choice goalkeeper however he is optimistic that he could break through and earn a start soon.
He notes that the biggest challenges the club faces will be to rise above the perils of 1. Division away matches where sometimes a small crowd or adverse playing conditions can lead to poor results and a slip in the standings.
"I was brought in as the number two early in preseason but I'm making their decision very tough," Burns concluded. "I would not have come here if I didn't think that I could play and help Sandefjord win the league. The keys for us will be to win on the road and to focus on ourselves and not who we are playing against. We have a squad that is used to playing in the bright lights of the Eliteserien so we have to be able to get up for every match regardless of the opponent or size of the crowd."
Burns and Sandefjord open their 1. Division season this weekend against Honefoss with Americans Steve Clark and Kenneth Di Vita Jensen.