AMSTERDAM — Mikkel Diskerud isn't joining Belgian club KAA Gent on loan with a heavy heart. To him, his departure from Stabæk, the club that raised him as a player, is as naturally inevitable as a child leaving their parents' nest.
The 21-year-old US international started with the Norwegian club, located just outside his native Oslo, at 15 years of age. No mere reliable midfielder to the fans, Diskerud was also parts team spokesman, teen heartthrob and local boy made good at Stabæk. He already knows they'll continue rooting him on from afar.
"Stabæk is like family," Diskerud told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Thursday upon arriving in Belgium. "You don't leave them — you are just doing what you have to do growing up. Our paths will always intertwine. Already in June, I am sure I will spend time organizing and taking part in some Stabæk soccer summer school for kids. Just the best [feelings]. Why bother with the rest?"
If Diskerud carries any weight with him to Gent, it's the desire to make all those people who watched him grow up the last seven years proud of his continued exploits elsewhere.
"Honestly, Stabæk has had the best youth program in the country," he declared. "Lots of volunteers. And they have had [reserve coach] Morten Tveit. I honor him, his work and the ambitions he instilled in us."
Diskerud says his clear conscience was met with a clear message from Gent manager Trond Sollied, now in his third stint on the job. The Buffaloes are seven points adrift in second with seven games to go before the championship playoff and none left against leaders Anderlecht.
"He expects me to be a Buffalo soldier," Diskerud shared with his usual sense of humor. "I doubt it has much to do about Bob Marley nor any famed infantry regiment. Rather, I believe it has to do with the headdress logo of the club."
While Gent's badge depicts a proud Cheyenne chief, the club's nickname was actually adopted shortly after Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show wowed the city in 1906. Though their moniker is purely America-inspired, he'll be the first genuine article to sport their shirt.
His mother noted to him after the loan move was completed that he does have a small bit of Native American blood, which in turn has only given the adventurous midfielder one more reason to bring a steady spirit to Gent down the home stretch this season.
"I might be the first one in Gent history to have a real connection to their logo," he cracked. "And for sure, I am no cowboy. Besides, Gent's staff laughingly told me they already have a lot of that in their organization, so that is definitely not why they brought in their first American."
Diskerud is unlikely to dress when Gent visit OH Leuven on Saturday.