|Org||Denmark National Team|
|Club as Player||FC Copenhagen|
2020 05 06 Retrieve
[Chelsea’s £1 billion goal: How Gronkjaer’s winner against Liverpool attracted Abramovich] All of the staff knew it was a massive game. But we didn’t know quite how important it would be. There were rumours at the time of big financial problems. There was even talk that there wouldn’t be enough money to pay our salaries at the end of the month. So, as a group of players, we knew qualifying for the Champions League was really important, money-wise. We didn’t know for sure what was going on but it was a feeling we had at the time. We spoke to (manager) Claudio Ranieri and (former chairman) Ken Bates and it was clear Chelsea were struggling, but we didn’t know they were for sale. We knew something was up, though, as we only signed Enrique de Lucas for free in the summer. So, we knew the club couldn’t match fees paid by other clubs. Nobody could have imagined what would happen with Abramovich but I remember that game against Liverpool so well because it was so big. There was just this feeling of relief afterwards that we had qualified. Later that summer, I was in my house when all of a sudden my dad asked me if I had seen the news: a Russian guy has bought the club. At that time, I had never experienced a change of owner before, so I didn’t expect anything big to happen. But we soon found out a lot of money would be put into the club
We were still training in the same place when we came back for pre-season, so it didn’t feel too different initially. But, suddenly, all of the world’s best players in every position were rumoured to be coming to Chelsea. I don’t think you would have been able to find a single Chelsea player who wasn’t worried about their future during that pre-season. We were in a training camp in Italy in a small town in the mountains. There was a cafe in the town that players could visit and you saw many of them sitting in corners, talking to their agents, asking what they should do because no one knew what was happening. Then, on our tour of Malaysia, I remember players walking in and out, being bought and sold. Overnight, we became a team who had to compete for the Premier League and try to win the Champions League. It was a big difference. It was unique at the time and I don’t think it would be possible today to repeat what happened. Even at Manchester City. They brought in Sergio Aguero and David Silva and these are great players but they were young at the time they were signed. They weren’t yet among the greatest players in the world. They are still signing players like Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Club or Kevin De Bruyne, who was very good but still coming through at Wolfsburg. But Chelsea back then were signing players from the elite, like Juan Sebastian Veron. From day one they were also adding the best of English football, like Joe Cole and Damien Duff
[Gronkjaer survived the overhaul but departed the following year, after Jose Mourinho had replaced Claudio Ranieri as manager] I remember meeting Mourinho a few times in the corridors at Stamford Bridge but I never really got to know him as I had a longer holiday than usual after Euro 2004 while my mother also died that summer. So I chose to transfer to Birmingham City, but that was a huge mistake. I thought because my mum died and I had a family that I would be better off in the UK but it was not a good experience at Birmingham. It wasn’t because of Birmingham but because I wanted to go to Spain, as I had good offers from Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Valencia. But my mental health was not okay when I was moving because of my mum. I should have gone to Spain for something new and, after just a few months at Birmingham, I knew it wasn’t the place I should be. It was my mistake and nothing to do with Birmingham, where we had good players and a good manager. It was one of those mistakes that I learned from but I am not proud of. Birmingham did all they could to go to the next level with Emile Heskey and me. But it was the wrong choice from me. My dream was to go to Spain
[Gronkjaer would spend only a year in Germany before returning to his native Denmark to line out for FC Copenhagen] In the end, I took in a lot of countries, thankfully. I played in great clubs all over the world with great team-mates. So, I will always have that
2020 05 10 Retrieve
[Jesper Gronkjaer is backing Hakim Ziyech to succeed after his £37 million ($43m) move from Ajax to Chelsea] Ziyech was the one who has caught my eye over the past two seasons even though he wasn’t produced by Ajax’s academy. You need players like that. I think all the top clubs will have looked at Ziyech and asked the question if he is good enough for our team. He is a fantastic player but I think for Chelsea he will be in the starting XI straight away
Almost all the clubs in the Premier League could afford someone like Ziyech. Newcastle will be right up there competing in the market again. It is a good signing and he will start a lot. Also, we still have yet to see the true potential of Christian Pulisic as well because he is going to be a great player as well. So those are things to look forward to at Chelsea
2020 05 10b Retrieve
[Gronkjaer believes Ziyech will be under pressure to perform from the beginning] Adapting to the Premier League is more of a mental challenge than anything else. When you play for Ajax, Feyenoord or PSV then you are in teams that dominate possession, create chances and score lots of goals all the time.
There’s a lot more space too. Now, in the Premier League, the learning curve isn’t there and you have to produce from day one. It is more physical and faster but now compared to my day, it is more technical. You have lots of skilful players and every team have great technicians which makes it easier
2020 05 10c Retrieve
[Lampard went on to employ Morris as his assistant head coach after being appointed Chelsea manager] Both of them looked like leaders even as boys. When Lampard came in, it was something else. He had already done well at West Ham and came in for £11m. He walked straight in the team but he was not our star player to begin with.
Quite quickly though after a year or so, we started to see him develop fast and he was always running box to box with great energy. His long-range shooting was special. He was a very sensible and clever guy.
It has been a good story with Chelsea this season through all the young players and a new manager. I think they have done well. If you compare to what you expected at the start of the season, they have done well with a new manager and with the transfer ban. They brought back players who I think probably a lot of supporters knew by name - Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori. You might not have found too many supporters who were saying these will be good players right away. Now, they are in a position fighting for a Champions League spot with lots of ups and downs.
2020 05 12 Retrieve
[Former Ajax winger Jesper Gronkjaer has advised Donny van de Beek to snub the advances of Real Madrid and Barcelona, and instead join a Premier League club such as Chelsea or Tottenham] I wouldn’t be surprised to see him at Real Madrid or Barcelona but I would rather see him at a club just below that. For his style of play alone, clubs like Tottenham or Chelsea would be a better fit. They are still top clubs and he is more like Frank Lampard, that kind of player. He is a big guy, box-to-box and takes good long shots, but he is not as technically gifted as other players that have come from Ajax. He is a player you can always get a certain level from
De Jong and De Ligt have yet to show their full potential. They did well at Ajax and moved to Barcelona and Juventus but have struggled. It is another level but I think that in years to come they will be some of the best players in Europe. Ziyech was the one who has caught my eye over the past two seasons, even though he wasn’t produced by Ajax. He is a player I really love and would pay to see. And now he is going to Chelsea. These guys had that Champions League run and it saw their prices increase by 300 per cent. We have to realise that Dutch football is above many leagues like Denmark but they still will always sell their best players to England and Spain. The money is greater in those other countries