Leo Ostigard insists his future lies in his own hands and says he hasn’t ruled out a return to Coventry City.
The 21-year-old Norwegian enjoyed a successful season with the Sky Blues on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion – his second season-long spell in consecutive campaigns, having previously been at German club St. Pauli.
Although coming to the end of his current deal at his parent Premier League club, Brighton have predictably triggered their one year extension option to his contract.
He now faces a crossroads in his young career with a number of options to consider; either stay and fight for a place in Graham Potter’s first team, head out on loan again or seek a permanent move to another club.
Ostigard certainly faces tough competition with the likes of England star Ben White and Lewis Dunk ahead of him if he chooses to stay put, and he’s been pretty vocal about the fact that he doesn’t want to sit on the bench.
“You have to be so realistic, but I have enjoyed being on loan and it can happen again,” Ostigard told Norwegian outlet Nettavisen.
The fan favourite is enjoying a holiday back home where he says he has ‘completely disconnected’ after the season in England was completed, but points out that he holds ‘good cards in hand’ regarding his future.
Nettavisen claim several Championship clubs, as well as clubs in both Germany and Italy, are interested in Ostigard.
And the player insists he is in charge of his own destiny, saying: “It’s a bit up to myself really.
“Most of all, Brighton will sign a new contract, and it is of course a positive feedback to get. At the same time, I only have one year left, and if I say I want to be sold, they will not stand in the way of that.”
City boss Mark Robins has made no secret of the fact that he’d like to work with him again but what does Ostigard say about the prospect of a return?
“It will always be relevant, but I can not promise and say I will return there,” he said.
“If there is a club that is very interesting, you have to consider it and do everything to make me the best I can be.”
Reflecting on his time when he had to say goodbye to St. Pauli fans last year, he said: “The worst thing if you do not go back, is to say it to the fans, especially when you have thrived so well and you feel that the supporters are sorry.
“It was the same in St. Pauli and it was extremely painful. I do not know if it will happen again, but that day you just have to take.”
The determined and forthright character also revealed how he confronted Mark Robins after being left out of the City side on his return from international duty last season.
After being away for a fortnight last November he found himself on the bench against Birmingham City and Cardiff before being restored to the starting line-up against Norwich.
“It was shocking, and I did not like it,” he said.
“I had been to a national team gathering and felt I was almost punished for it. I had to fight my way back in and that’s a lesson too, so in retrospect I think it was just smart to feel a little of it.
“I went into his (Mark Robins) office and said ‘if this is what you have in mind, I will not stay here until January.’
“Then I said quite clearly, but then I think they eventually realized that it was wise to have me on the field, and we saw that maybe especially in the last matches when we were dependent on winning and I scored some goals. I got a top at the end, and that was when I knew my teammates and the club best.”
Talking about the ‘English culture’ where it was a matter of standing up for yourself, he revealed: “The coaches I had in England were quite tough.
“If you missed a couple of passes in training, they could come behind you and whisper “have you not slept last night, or?
“I have never let myself be broken by such things, and that is why I was quite hard back, to show that I am not a little pudding who does not dare to speak out.”
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Meanwhile, Ostigard revealed that he has extended his special bond with the fans by joining Coventry City’s Scandinavian Supporters’ Club.
“Being able to give back a little when I know they are sitting and watching means a lot,” he said.
“I have talked to many Coventry supporters in Norway throughout the year, and been a member of the Coventry Scandinavian Supporters Club.
“They sent a request and then I think it was nice to be there and talk to them a bit. They really appreciate that, and when they do, I feel that it is important for both me and the supporters, he says, and continues.
“I can never be too big not to talk to supporters. That’s how I grew up at home. You must never become too starry-eyed not to be able to do that, and I completely agree with that.
“For me, it is much cooler to talk to them and involve them than not to respond to messages. I’m not the world’s greatest player, but I think it’s been important.”