Marcus Forss has wasted no time hitting the back of the net since his loan move from Brentford – and his hunger for goals has been apparent since his childhood.
In an extensive interview for our programme, Marcus talked about his upbringing – his father Tero carved out a reputation as a top striker in Finland – and about his reasons for joining The Dons.
For those that missed the interview, it is reproduced in full below.
Following his goal-laden start to life at AFC Wimbledon, Marcus believes that his loan move will help him to make major strides in his career after signing a new long-term contract at Brentford.
“I need to improve upon little things in my game,” said Marcus. “That’s what I’m here for, to get that experience of playing League football. I’m scoring quite a few goals, and I don’t think I need major work on my game – I just need to keep working hard in training every day. I want to get experience under my belt by playing a lot of games for Wimbledon. I will learn a lot from being here. I’ve enjoyed working with the coaching staff. It’s making me a better player and in turn making the team better.
“I came here because I wanted to play first-team football. I felt I was ready to do more than just 20 minutes here and there as a substitute. It was my decision, and Brentford agreed to it. I wanted to go out and play – that’s what any footballer wants to do, of course. I wanted to play 90 minutes every week, and when the opportunity to join Wimbledon came up, I grasped it with both hands. This seemed like a fantastic club to come to and progress my career.
“You need to have your own opinion, though you have to listen to other people as well. But at the end of the day it’s your career, and I felt that 90 minutes for Wimbledon against Southend would help the team – and it obviously did! So it was a good decision to stay here, rather than go on international duty.
“I made my first-team debut for Brentford away at Southend last season, when we won 4–2 in the Carabao Cup. I scored one goal in that game, so it’s a lucky ground for me. There have been a lot of fantastic moments in my career: I scored on my Brentford debut, I scored in my first league game, and I scored on my debut for Wimbledon.”
Marcus dedicated his first hat-trick in league football to the memory of a man who made a vital contribution to his career. The on-loan striker, who cracked a superb treble in our 4–1 win at Southend last Saturday, joined Brentford in 2017 after finding himself out of contract at West Bromwich Albion, and Rob Rowan, the former technical director at Griffin Park, was influential in the move. Rob died at the age of just 28 almost a year ago, and Marcus was quick to pay tribute to him after his first league hat-trick.
“Rob brought me to Brentford, but he sadly passed away about a year ago,” said Marcus when we caught up with him this week. “He looked after me at Brentford – he was the man I went to at the club for help and advice. I owe Rob a lot for helping me to progress my career. When I scored my hat-trick at Southend, I thought of Rob, and I’m very grateful for the help he provided. It meant a lot to me to score that hat-trick.”
That came after Marcus made playing for Wimbledon in the fixture at Southend his priority – as he could have gone off to be with the Finland U21s for their Euro qualifying game against Malta.
Born and raised in Turku, Finland, Marcus’s hunger for goals was clear from an early age – and he certainly wasn’t entertaining any thoughts of playing at the back!
“I started playing football when I was very young and it’s always been my first love. Football and ice hockey are the main sports where I’m from. Sometimes I played ice hockey for fun, but I wasn’t very good at it. In football I played as a centre-back when I was younger, but I’ve played as a striker ever since. Whenever I played at the back I always tried to go forward score, so I wasn’t really a defender!”
Playing in front of packed stadiums is something he thrives upon, and he’s enjoying the atmosphere created by our supporters.
“I don’t think about the nerves, really, that’s just football. You do it week in, week out in training. Matches are obviously different because you’re playing in front of a lot of fans, but you just have to zone in and make sure you play your game. That’s what I feel I’m doing at the moment.
“The fans are fantastic at this club, and whenever we have a home game they’re in full voice. It’s like having a 12th man on the pitch – it gives us that extra motivation. Wimbledon fans are very loud, and I like playing at the Cherry Red Records Stadium. I’d played here in pre-season for Brentford, and the pitch is very nice – it’s a good place to play.”
Moving over here from Finland at the age of just 13 could be viewed as a daunting prospect by many, but Marcus was quick to adapt to English life – and conquering the language barrier certainly helped. However, his career at West Bromwich didn’t progress the way he would have liked after making his debut in the EFL Trophy.
“It’s tough when you have to leave your friends behind at the age of 13, but you make new friends and because you’re young it’s easier to learn the language. It was difficult at the start, but now it’s all good. I love it over here. I watched a lot of films, and I read a lot of books about the English language – that’s how I learned.
“I had positive and negative experiences at West Brom, but I felt I had to move away from there. I didn’t really see my future as being there, so that’s why I went to Brentford. When my contract ran out at West Brom I had to go somewhere else. I’d had a good time there, but to progress as a professional footballer it felt like the right time to join Brentford.”
Marcus initially played for Brentford’s B team, but he made rapid progress through the ranks and scored on his first-team debut in a 4–2 Carabao Cup win at Southend United in August last year. Living in Twickenham, Marcus feels that it’s now a second home for him, especially because of the family atmosphere created at Brentford. And his father, Tero, who was a professional footballer in Finland, regularly comes over to watch him play.
“I heard that Brentford were interested in me, and I decided that it was the right move in my career. Brentford is a fantastic club, a lovely family club: the staff, supporters, and players are great. There are a lot of foreign players, including several from Scandinavia. It’s been fantastic for me to come through from the B team at Brentford into the first team. It feels like home for me and my family.
“Dean Smith [now Aston Villa’s manager] was the man who brought me into the first team at Brentford and gave me that chance, which meant a lot to me. I’m very grateful to Dean for giving me that opportunity.
“My dad has been a big influence on my career, ever since the days when I first started playing, and even now I take tips from him. He comes over from Finland whenever he can to watch my games, and he tells me what I can improve on, but he couldn’t make it to the Southend match. When he can’t get over he watches the games online and stays in touch in any way that he can.”
Marcus is from a big footballing family. As Inter Turku’s record goalscorer, his father Tero certainly knew how to hit the back of the net! Football is undoubtedly in the blood: Rainer Forss, Marcus’s grandfather – played international football for Finland, and his brother Niclas plays and coaches in Finland.
“Football’s a big thing in my family. I think I was four when I started kicking a ball around. My brother was in a Sunday league team so I went along with him – my dad was the coach. I was spotted by scouts at West Brom and decided to go for it after being offered a chance. My ambition was to become a footballer, and moving to England was part of that journey. My whole family supported me in that aim. My mum and dad came over here, and my brother stayed in Finland. My footballing hero when I was growing up was Cristiano Ronaldo. I looked up to him as I was a Man United fan as a boy – my family all support United.”
Marcus is also grateful to Anthony Wordsworth – the senior member of AFC Wimbledon’s squad – for helping to guide his progress. A good example of that was when “Woody” stopped him repeating the mistake he made on his home debut against Bristol Rovers, when his yellow card for over-celebrating led to a sending-off.
“Anthony is a fantastic football footballer and a fantastic person. He’s looked after me, and when I scored my third goal at Southend I almost went into the crowd again – but he pulled me back! The celebrations are something I do spontaneously, but he stopped me, thankfully.”