Flashback Friday – Egil Østenstad & Jon Kitna

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Welcome to the first of a weekly feature on Football Meets Football – Flashback Friday! Each week we will look back at a footballer and American footballer from years gone by purely for nostalgic reasons. If you have any suggestions for players you would like to be written about in this article leave a comment on here, on our Facebook page or on our Twitter (@FBmeetsFB). This weeks players will be Egil Østenstad and Jon Kitna.

Egil Østenstad

The man with one of the most pleasing names to say in Premier League history, Egil Østenstad came over to these shores in 1996 when he was signed by Southampton for £800,000 after a successful 6 years in his native Norway with Viking FK. His first goals for Southampton came in the form of a hat trick in the 6-3 home thrashing of Manchester United on 26th October 1996. He won the Fans’ Player of the Season following the 96/97 season after scoring 9 goals in 30 games. He was part of the Norway squad that went to the World Cup in France 98 but unfortunately wasn’t given a chance to make much of an impact. He managed to score 7 goals 98/99 season which was good enough to give him a share of the teams top goal scorer spoils with Matt Le Tissier. He was shipped to Blackburn Rovers, then of Division 1, on 18th August 1999 in a swap deal which sent Kevin Davies to Southampton. He finished his Saints career with 29 goals in 96 games in all competitions.

Egil spent 4 years at Blackburn, scoring 12 goals in 62 games in the process. He got off to a good start as he scored a brace in his second game for the club and finished the 99/00 season with 8 goals in 28 games but it was all downhill from there for his Rovers career. He only managed 17 games with 3 goals in the 00/01 season (which includes a 4 game scoreless loan spell with Manchester City). He played a further 17 games in all competitions in the 01/02 season and scored 1 goal, but he did pick up a League Cup winners medal despite being left out of the squad for the final against Tottenham Hotspur.

He stayed with Blackburn until the summer of 2003 when he was snapped up on a free transfer by Rangers, but he had a minimal impact for the Scottish giants going scoreless in 11 games and having his contract terminated before the 03/04 season ended.

After a dismal time in Glasgow he returned to Norway and Viking FK where it all began for the 04/05 season. He retired at the end of that lone season, with 334 games and 111 goals over his club career, and had a further 18 games and 6 goals as a Norwegian international.

Following his playing career Egil became director of football for Viking FK between 2005 and 2011, and was also the inspiration for the character Yngve in the book The Man Who Loved Yngve, which was written by his high school classmate Tore Renberg.

Jon Kitna

Jon Kitna was a multi-talented athlete coming out of both Concordia Lutheran School and Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington, where he played football, basketball and baseball. He went to Central Washington University and became their starting quarterback as a freshman in 1993. In 1995 he lead the CWU Wildcats to the NAIA Championship, passing for 4,616 yards with 42 TDs and 14 INTs with a 63.1% completion rate. He finished his college career with 12,353 yards, 99 TDs, 59 INTs and a 58.8% completion rate from 43 games.

Kitna was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Seattle Seahawks before their 1996 training camp. After making the practice squad he was sent to NFL Europe to play for the Barcelona Dragons and won MVP in the 1997 championship game where he lead the Dragons to a 38-24 victory over the Rhein Fire in World Bowl V. He backed up Warren Moon for Seattle in 1997 and most of 1998, however he started the last 5 games of the 1998 season. He started 15 of 16 games in the 1999 season, going 8-7 over those starts as the Seahawks finished the year 9-7 and won the AFC West, however they lost in the AFC Wild Card round to the Dolphins. (The Seahawks in the AFC – strange right?!) Jon lost the starting job to Brock Huard in the 2000 season, but he ended up rotating in and out of the starting role due to injuries.

Kitna joined the Cincinnati Bengals for the 2001 season and was automatically named starter. He won NFL Comeback Player of the Year award in 2003 after playing every offensive snap, throwing for 3,500 yards and 26 TDs while leading the Bengals to an 8-8 record – their first non-losing season since 1996. However he would lose the starting job in 2004 to Carson Palmer, the #1 overall pick in the 2003 draft out of USC. He stayed with the Bengals until the end of the 2005 season, his last game being a defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card round which he came into after an injury to Palmer.

The Detroit Lions signed Jon as a free agent prior to the 2006 season, becoming only the second Lions quarterback in history to pass for over 4,000 yards in a single season during his first year with the team. In 2008 he suffered a back injury which would rule him out for the season after only 4 games and the Lions would go winless for the entire year.

The Dallas Cowboys acquired Kitna in a trade on 28th February 2009, sending cornerback Anthony Henry to the Lions in return. He was acquired to back up Tony Romo and didn’t play a single snap in 2009. In 2010 he played 9 games when Romo was injured, going 4-5 over those games with a respectable 2,365 yards, 16 TDs and 12 INTs. After 3 games in 2011 he was placed on injured reserve because of a back injury and announced his retirement on 12th January 2012. He briefly came out of retirement in 2013 to serve as backup QB for the Cowboys for 1 game and donated his $55,294 salary to the Lincoln High School Booster Club.

After his playing career he became a Maths teacher at Lincoln High School, where he was also head coach of the football team. After leading the football team to the regular season championship in 2014 he took a head coaching job in 2015 at Waxahachie High School, south of Dallas in Texas.

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