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Football in Denmark and players in other countries.

A column devoted to those brave "first-time" internationals in Denmark.

Photograph: Pexels

Text: Dominic J Stevensen

Football is big in Denmark, there is no denying it. Most of my neighbours support an English football club and a (maybe local) Danish one. The English Premier League feels like a Holy Grail for many nations across the globe, and Denmark is no different. They love their football here. All the neighbours' sons are playing it (there are mostly boys in our neighbourhood; I hope lots of girls are out there doing the same), football being a massive part of daily life.

Denmark's football heritage is rich both in and beyond its vast shores. While recent times marked the narrow loss of the Danish women's national side against England in the women's World Cup over on the other side of the planet (and then England ended up runners up), I certainly feel an affinity with the Danes now as well as my home nation. I'm not sure who I will choose to win in 5, 10, or 15 years when the two nations coincide.

My team, Nottingham Forest, had a Danish player – Philip Zinckernagel – when, in May 2022, we finally won promotion to the hallowed Premier League again (after a 23-year wait to return). He was the most notable of a few Danes to play for my club, and unforgettable scenes mean he is forever in our hearts.

Christian Eriksen, the remarkable survivor of the 2021 European Championships, is a global icon for more than just his football. He is a modern hero for what he overcame and what he conquers daily as he continues his career at Manchester United. I know the Laudrup brothers and Jan Molby from past days watching international football, particularly top-flight football in England (Molby played for Liverpool, one of Forest's nemeses) as a child.

Of course, as a young teenager in 1992, Denmark winning the Euros that year lives on in both my mind and the entire nation I now reside in. That accomplishment is one the nation would love to see repeated. And there is an abundance of talent playing both at home and abroad.

"Of course, as a young teenager in 1992, Denmark winning the Euros that year lives on in both my mind and the entire nation I now reside in."

I know Danish players at Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Brentford, and several other clubs. There is also an abundance of Danish talent in another two of the best leagues in the world – the Bundesliga in Germany and the Italian Serie A, not to mention a smattering across many other top leagues worldwide.

Most famous active female Danish players include national side captain Pernille Harder (goal scorer at the recent women's World Cup as well as most capped and all-time leading goal scorer for the Danish women's side), Nadia Nadim (a player with a well-documented back story), Simone Boye Sørensen (a staple since her debut in 2011), and Sanne Troelsgaard (their second most capped player of all-time).

While my encounters with Danes have revealed that they all support one of the current creams of the crop of English football, I do maintain the hope of finding someone who follows my own team. I would like it if they also supported some of the lesser globally renowned clubs (Brentford would be a good one, as they have a Danish coach, Thomas Frank, and six Danes in their squad).

While I have a lot to learn about Danish football both here on Danish shores and further afield, including the women's and men's games, it's a good starting point to know the once-champions-of-Europe are as nutty about the "beautiful game'’ as the English that designed it are. For now, the English have the most competitive and attractive league globally. Is it any wonder it has Danes, other Scandinavians, and players from across the world playing there?

In the meantime, I can’t wait to dive deeper into the Danish football scene here at home. I am still contemplating which Danish side to support. I need to feel that connection, not just support the best side right now, and such decisions take time. A Jutland team would be wonderful to support. A few possibilities do present themselves to me. When the time is right, the club will inevitably make itself known to this fan.

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