With the news of Brede Hangeland’s apparently callously handled release by email emerging this evening, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Tomorrow will be the time to question another mishandled episode in communication and a now unsurprisingly classless personnel manoeuvre; but for tonight, we must say farewell to a Fulham legend.
Brede is the latest in a cavalcade of players who have left SW6 with the minimal of fanfare. Like Aaron Hughes, who was given to Queens Park Rangers in January, Hangeland was offered no chance to say goodbye, no swansong and barely a eulogy.
As fans though, we will never forget the impact that these two men have had on our small corner of South West London. With over 500 appearances for Fulham between them, it will be some time before another player reaches those echelons.
When Hangeland joined in 2007, Fulham were a defensive liability. Brought in by Roy Hodgson from Danish side FC Copenhagen, Hangeland was immediately a revolutionary force for good. The partnership he instantly formed with Northern Irishman Hughes was one that will live long in the memory of Fulham fans. From the worst defence in the league, with these two stalwarts, we soon had one of the best.
As a symbol of the Roy era, Hangeland’s time at Fulham will be remembered most for the success it brought with it. While the pain of this season’s relegation will fade in time, Hangeland’s greatest achievements in a Fulham shirt will live in our collective memory forever. Following the departure of Damian Duff last week, of the players that walked out onto the Hamburg pitch in the Europa League Final, Hangeland was the only one left before tonight. His goals against Roma and in Donetsk in our infamous run were the sort of towering headers we came to get used to at both ends from our talismanic Norwegian.
Aside from his imposing stature, intelligent defending and charming off-field persona, Hangeland was a leader. Never a conventional captain, Hangeland always led by example. His humble honesty seemed emblematic of Fulham as a club. Like predecessor Danny Murphy, he was someone we were always proud of, no matter performance or result.
Injuries hampered his performances over the past two seasons and time has been approaching for a changing of the guard to a new generation of Fulham defenders. However, we must never forget the insurmountable contribution made to Fulham’s history by both Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes.
In writing this quick note, I have already committed more to the page than the 67 words afforded from Fulham to Hughes and the 97 to Hangeland. They deserve better, for they always gave Fulham their best.
For that, from all Fulham fans, thank you for everything Brede and Aaron.