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Norwegian businessman meets childhood hero Clyde Best

Rolf Roppestad, CEO of Gard, meeting his childhood hero, football legend Clyde Best (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

When Norwegian insurance executive Rolf Roppestad came to Bermuda for business meetings this month, he had a special request.

He wanted to meet his childhood hero, Bermudian footballer, Clyde Best, who scored 58 goals for West Ham United between 1968 and 1976.

On November 3, the chief executive officer of Bermudian-domiciled insurance company Gard got his wish when he lunched with Mr Best at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club.

“I never got to see Mr Best play in person,” the 52-year-old told The Royal Gazette. “I watched him on this television programme called Match of the Day.”

Mr Roppestad loved the way Mr Best handled the ball for West Ham United.

“He was strong and really had some impressive shots,” Mr Roppestad said.

He also admired Mr Best’s calm and respectful conduct on the field despite enduring racism.

“There are stories that it was not always easy for him,” Mr Roppestad said. “So, I respected that.”

Over lunch they shared their passion for football. Mr Roppestad played a little football in his youth, and was, at one point, a football referee. He still collects football cards, and keeps one of Mr Best in his bedside drawer.

Mr Best was one of the first Black players in First Division football in England, and has been called the “Jackie Robinson of professional football”.

After his English career, he went to the United States, where he scored 53 goals for the Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Portland Timbers.

Now 71, Mr Best said: “It was lovely for me to meet Mr Roppestad.”

Responding to Mr Roppestad’s comments about his conduct, he said: “My mother always taught me that if I wanted to be treated well in life, I had to treat other people well.”

Mr Best said while playing with West Ham, the team would sometimes go to Norway for preseason games.

“It was a nice country,” he said.

Mr Best said it was great to see people like Mr Roppestad doing business in Bermuda. He said companies like Gard meant more opportunities for Bermudians.

“I often remind young players that they need something to fall back on if football does not work out,” he said. “What if they break their leg and can’t play?

“I tell young players they need an education, too. Many are falling by the wayside and we have to find a way to get them what they need. If they go away to school, they need opportunities to come back to in Bermuda.”

After meeting Mr Best in person, Mr Roppestad said his early positive impressions of Mr Best were correct.

“He is a great player and a great person,” Mr Roppestad said.

Gard is a shipowner-controlled provider of protection and insurance, marine and energy insurance products.

It was founded in Norway in 1907 and is the largest specialised marine insurer in the world, providing shipowners and operators, shipyards, contractors, oil companies and wind farm operators with insurance products that offer financial protection and practical assistance when disaster strikes.

Gard has 36 per cent of the Nordic marine hull market and 19 per cent market share among the International Group of P&I Clubs.

It has an A+ rating from Standard and Poor’s, and has nearly 600 staff in 13 offices around the world.

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Published November 21, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated November 21, 2022 at 7:58 am)

Norwegian businessman meets childhood hero Clyde Best

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