He’s a real leader. Captain Simon Kjaer is more emblematic than any other player for the solidarity that has made the Danish national team so strong in recent months.
His quick intervention in the collapse of teammate Christian Eriksen at the European Championships made him a celebrated hero. The 32-year-old from AC Milan is also convincing in terms of play. Most recently he was nominated as one of only five defenders for the Ballon d’Or.
For Denmark’s team boss, his defense boss has long been one of the best central defenders in the world. “In the past year and a half it has gotten stronger and stronger. It’s a bit like the good bottle of wine that gets better with age,” says Kasper Hjulmand.
Hero who doesn’t want to be
“He’s good at positional play, has a tremendous personality, is calm and professional. He’s just a strong character that you want on a football team,” continued the team boss.
Kjaer showed that on that fateful June 12, 2021. Denmark’s top star Eriksen collapsed in the European Championship game against Finland in Copenhagen. Kjaer was one of the first players with him, making sure that he didn’t swallow his tongue.
Then he comforted Eriksen’s girlfriend and formed a protective wall with his team to allow treatment as undisturbed as possible.
“I just did what I had to do without thinking, as anyone would have done,” said the Denmark captain later. He acted instinctively. That’s why he’s not a hero. “It was a team effort.”
Eriksen was put on a defibrillator because of his previously unknown heart problems. The game against Finland was lost 0-1, but Denmark stormed into the EM semifinals after overcoming the shock.
Foda: Kjaer “an absolute leader”
Kjaer not only played a decisive role in this, but also in the so far so successful World Cup qualification. Before the duel with Austria on Tuesday (8:45 p.m. in LIVE-Ticker >>>) in Copenhagen he scored in two international matches in a row. On Saturday against the Republic of Moldova (4-0), he thundered a penalty into the net via the lower edge of the crossbar.
Kjaer has completed 116 international matches since 2009, a whopping 111 of them in the starting line-up. The defender has been the captain for five years. “He is an absolute leader,” said ÖFB team boss Franco Foda. Kjaer proved that particularly in the incident with Eriksen.
“You have to take off your hat to keep control in such a difficult situation and make the right decisions,” said Foda. “You can see that he is extremely important for Denmark.”
It’s about keeping this level, getting even better and helping at all levels on and off the field. It doesn’t matter whether it’s with the national team or with Milan.
Kjaer sees the whole Danish troop venturing into a new dimension. “This is the best national team I’ve played for so far.”
World footballer nomination? “A great privilege”
That affects both the quality of the players and the types in the team. “It all works out very well – both offensively and defensively.”
After years of wandering with stations in Italy (Palermo, AS Roma, Atalanta), Germany (Wolfsburg), France (Lille), Turkey (Fenerbahce) and Spain (Sevilla FC), he was in top form in his one and a half years with Milan .
To be nominated as one of 30 players for the prestigious Ballon d’Or of the world’s best footballer is a great honor – and at the same time a great motivation to keep working hard on yourself.
“It’s a great privilege and shows that I’ve had a really, really good year,” says Kjaer. “But it only makes me hungrier to play football. It’s about maintaining this level, getting better and helping at all levels on and off the field. It doesn’t matter whether it’s with the national team or with Milan.”
Simon Kjaer is there for everyone.
Textquelle: © APA
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