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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Ex-Carlisle Utd striker eyeing Swedish title glory

Brian Wake doesn’t need Swedish language classes to help him explain where he wants his club Östersunds FK to finish – as champions.

Brian Wake photo
Brian Wake

No translation is needed – champions is the same in Swedish as it is in English.

The former Carlisle United striker, who wrote his name into Brunton Park folklore when his hat-trick against Shrewsbury Town in 2003 saved the Blues from relegation from the Football League, is now hoping to score the goals to carry Östersunds to a second successive title.

Wake joined Östersunds, who are managed by former Birmingham City, West Brom and York City full-back Graham Potter, last March, and has proved a big hit.

His 28 league and cup goals last season won them promotion to the third tier in Swedish football and they kick off the new season on April 15 among the favourites to win more silverware.

After signing a two-year deal, the 29-year-old striker has thrown himself into his new life in Sweden, attending college to learn the language and preparing for winters which can see temperatures plunge to -30 degrees.

“I’m loving every minute of it out here and, although I miss my family very much, I’m really settled,” said Wake.

“It’s a tough language to learn but I’m just about fluent, which really helps.

“I’m really enjoying the football side as well as we’ve a fantastic dressing-room with great team spirit.

“The club’s ambition is to win the league again and we’re looking to really challenge.

“Our team was more-or-less too good for the league we were in last year. A tam called Umea won this league last year and we played them in a pre-season friendly and gave them a good game. With the players we’ve signed in pre-season, we’re going to have an even stronger team so we’ve nothing to fear.”

Four years after the boot of goalkeeper Jimmy Glass saved Carlisle from the drop, it was Wake’s turn to be the hero when his hat-trick in the penultimate game of the 2002/03 season ensured Roddy Collins’ Carlisle team stayed in the Football League after a 3-2 win over Shrewsbury at Gay Meadow.

Carlisle knew a victory would guarantee their place in the Third Division, while Shrewsbury’s faint hopes were pinned on winning their last two games and hoping that others would do them favours.

With three goals in 15 minutes either side of half-time, Wake consigned Shrewsbury to relegation and elevated himself into United’s history books.

Now he is hoping to be a hero in Sweden by beating last season’s haul of 28 goals to clinch his club more silverware.

Wake, who also played for Gretna, Greenock Morton and Gateshead, is out of contract at the end of the season in November.

He can see himself staying longer in Sweden, but would not rule out a move back to British football.

“I would love to stay here and play for Östersunds. This move came up at a perfect time. I would consider another crack at British football, but I am enjoying my football here.

“It would be nice to get as many goals as I can but I also feel I contribute to the team by holding the ball up and working hard.”

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