|Org||Denmark National Team|
|Club as Player||Atalanta FC|
2017 11 11 Retrieve
[During his first months in charge, Hareide tried to respect the past and the work of Olsen. Now he has realised that Denmark were actually longing for a change] We are the favourites. There is no reason to underact our role
2019 06 07 Retrieve
[Simon Kjaer has warned his Denmark side to expect a tough challenge against Ireland when the sides meet in Copenhagen for a Euro 2020 qualifier] We know, that Ireland are not a walk in the park. We know each other pretty well, so this week we have been working on some new methods to try and open up the Irish defence because they have caused us problems before and made it really difficult for us to score goals against them - with three of the four games ending 0-0. We have worked hard on some new ideas to break down their defence, and inside the team we have made some agreements with each other, that we must live up to during the game.
Easy games do not exist anymore in top football. Yes, we beat Ireland 5-1 in Dublin to qualify for the World Cup, and we played an amazing game, but that was an extraordinary result, where everything went our way. There is no bad blood between us, but I could imagine that they would still want to get their revenge for that 5-1! Of course, our ambition is to win. In a qualifying group you almost have to win all your home games - and as a team, we always walk onto the pitch to win. We have this basic feeling, that we won’t lose the game. because we are used to not losing. That is such an important feeling in football.
We know the stats, we are proud of them, and we want to defend it and improve them. I must admit, that it’s an incredibly long time in football - more than 30 months and 26 games without losing. And it includes both a lot of qualifiers and the World Cup, when we only lost on penalties against Croatia - and also drew against France. As the captain of the team I am extremely proud of our group of players, of everybody around the team, and of Danish football in general. We definitely use it. It is a massive boost to the confidence of a team to feel, that we can’t lose. Obviously we know, that we can lose - it is football, but when you have had so many successful experiences together as a team, you actually get that feeling of being invincible.
For sure it helped us in our last game, away against Switzerland. We did not play a very good game, and we were 3-0 down with a few minutes to go, but then we just had that mentality, that team spirit of ‘We won’t lose - we can’t lose’. Then we fought our way back into the game from being dead and buried - and suddenly we stood there after the game with a super important 3-3 result against a strong Switzerland team, ranked above us on the FIFA World Ranking. As a football team we are constantly developing, and we need to keep on raising the bar. We need to push to progress every time, we are together, because there is a lot of potential in this group of players, such a good mentality. We were unlucky to leave the World Cup against the finalists, because we felt, we still had a lot to give in that tournament
[On a personal note, Kjaer thrives on leading his country] I enjoy being Denmark captain. I enjoy the extra responsibility, and I feel that I grow both as a player and as a person. I am 30 now, with a lot of experience from the biggest leagues and from the national team - and physically I’m in great shape. I honestly feel that I have never been better than during the last 12 months, going back to the World Cup
[Although Sevilla had an up-and-down campaign, there are still fond memories to look back upon] We had a bit of a turbulent season - like last year. The club again changed coach and sporting director during the season. Maybe it was without the super highlights of my first season, when for example we were knocking out Manchester United in the Champions League, but we still finished with a decent season. We qualified for Europe, with individual matches like winning 3-0 against Real Madrid in the league and 2-0 against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey - and knocking out Lazio in the Europa League
2019 09 05 Retrieve
[Simon Kjaer has described his summer move to Serie A side FC Atalanta as a dream] It is a dream for me to return to Italy - and I am not exaggerating. This is the country where it all started for me, in Palermo. Then a few years later I was with Roma for a season-long loan from Wolfsburg, and I always told my agent, Mikkel Beck, that one day I would like to return to Italy. I love the country; the culture, the people, the food - the football, which is a great cocktail of passion and tactical masterclass. My wife and I even chose to get married in Italy, so that tells you something
European games are always special, and facing English opponents is always extra-special. Manchester City are surely the favorites of the group, but let’s see what we can do. It is always the greatest joy in football to be on the biggest stage and measure yourself with the best in the world. No matter if it is with your club in the league or in European games - or if it is with your national team. I am looking forward to the challenge of facing Manchester City, but also to be back in Serie A. From my first season abroad with Palermo, I have treasured the Italian passion for and style of football. I would say that I took my education as a defender fromthe Italian way of defending, and it has surely shaped me as a player. I can’t wait to be back home in Italian football - and ‘home’ is exactly how I feel about Italy
[Although there were big changes at Sevilla over the summer, Kjaer had not necessarily expected to depart] It was a turbulent summer in Sevilla, with a new sporting director in Monchi and a new coach in Julen Lopetegui - and a whole new team coming in with 14 or 15 new players. When we started pre-season, there were seven central defenders. My agent and I had a good meeting with Monchi, and we all agreed that if a good solution for both Sevilla and for myself appeared then we would talk about it. There has been no pressure from Sevilla on me to find another club. It was always up to me, what I wanted to do. Lopetegui came to me and told me that he wanted to keep me and to use me. So, of course, I expected to stay in Sevilla, which is a great club. I was ready to take my chance. It was promised to me and I’m sure the coach would have kept his word, but then Atalanta suddenly appeared
[The lure of a return to Italy proved too much for the 30-year-old to resist] In football things sometimes happen very quickly. I heard about Atalanta’s interest on Saturday morning, sitting in the car with my family, and suddenly everything went very quickly. This was exactly that unique opportunity that could make me leave Sevilla. At the end of the transfer window, some other big clubs were interested, but I still expected to stay. Then I heard about Atalanta and I felt that this would be perfect. This is so great for me. Atalanta is a very well organised club, they play some very exciting football - last season scoring the most goals of all teams in Serie A - and they have told me that they have a big role waiting for me. I feel completely ready for that, having enjoyed the best year of my career, starting back at the World Cup. Atalanta finished third in Serie A and now face a historic season having qualified for the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history. This is exciting and personally it is a fantastic opportunity for me
[Before a European campaign, Kjaer will focus on his international commitments with Denmark, with matches against Gibraltar and Georgia to come] I was extremely proud when, as a captain, I led our national team onto the pitch during the World Cup last year in Russia, and I would love to do that again next summer at the Euros. For the first time Denmark will face Gibraltar and we know that they only lost 1-0 and 2-0 to Ireland in this qualification group, so we will not underestimate them. We are undefeated in our last 28 games and almost three years as a national team and we definitely want to continue that exceptional streak
2019 11 19 Retrieve
[Denmark captain Simon Kjaer celebrates Euro 2020 qualification: It’s a dream come true] I am a happy captain. To qualify for Euro 2020, where we will play two or three games in our own country at Parken Stadium, which is a fortress for us, is a dream come through. It’ll be great to celebrate this amazing football party. It was absolutely a dream for each of us in the team and the country. I am also a proud captain because we have a great group of guys who simply enjoy spending time together, playing football together, winning together. And in my own humble opinion, the values of this team fits perfectly to my own personality: with Aage Hareide as a fantastic coach we have built a team in which we work hard for each other, we never give up, we want results and we always want to improve ourselves as a team
[Kjaer admits Monday’s assignment was a difficult one] It was a tough night in Dublin. We did not play our best game, we looked nervous with the ball at times but it is also extremely difficult to play beautiful football against the Irish team, who fight for every ball, for every centimetre on the pitch - and who have the great support of a full stadium. I would have wanted us to be much better with the ball because it would have made the game easier for us - but we always work our socks off. On a night when our game did not flow, we still got the result that we wanted
[Reflecting on his side’s remarkable undefeated run] We know, that we are not a great international force like the legendary Spanish and the Brazilian national teams who have had these long unbeaten runs, but our team spirit and our hard work means that we simply don’t accept to lose a game. I must admit, I really love that part of our game. It is a unique achievement, that we have not lost a game in more than three years. This run and the feeling that we will not lose is giving a big boost to our mentality when we enter the pitch