Football: Adaptable Koren Energises Albion; COCA-COLA CHAMPIONSHIP Albion's Slovenian Tells Hyder Jaward of His Time before and after His Move to the Midlands
Byline: Hyder Jaward
The speed with which Robert Koren has settled in England has been one of the features of West Bromwich Albion's renaissance under Tony Mowbray.
When Koren arrived at The Hawthorns on January 5, unheralded and largely anonymous, his main claim to fame was that he was Mowbray's first signing.
But Koren has much to commend him and he belies those misconceptions. He is a super-fit Slovenian who learnt English at school in Ljubljana and who spent nearly three years developing as a player in Norway.
Now, with his superlative levels of energy and his quick feet, it is hard to imagine an Albion midfield without him.
"You say I have settled in well but I have received a lot of help," Koren says. "Everybody at the club has helped me find an apartment and settle down.
"I'm looking forward to playing - we have a great atmosphere at the club. I have my family over, they've been here for a month and that's helped me to relax.
"I have an eight-month-old son so when you come home you forget about football and then, the next day, you come back to training and are able to focus on football."
Koren joined Albion on a free transfer, having played the 2006 season in Norway with Lillestrom. He had the chance to join Manchester City but instead opted for Albion.
The problem was that, in Norway, November and December are part of the close season so he moved to The Hawthorns feeling as if he had missed an entire preseason. He felt good but not match-fit.
"I had a big rest after Norway for a month," Koren says.
"I did some extra running with the physical coach so I felt good. We have a game every three days so I have no problems with my physical game. I'm trying to bring some balance.
"It was difficult in Norway at first. You start the season in April and play to November. After my contract finished there I had one month off.
"I was alone in Norway so that month when I left and before coming here I spent with my family, which I felt was important. I now have a lot of energy and I feel great.
"I rested enough in December so when I came to the club I knew I had to work hard so I could play at this level.
"I felt I needed to do extra and now I feel I'm in good shape. I am having more rest now because after 90 minutes you have to. …