Danish Footballers

Danish footballers: Discover the most famous former and current Danish football players

Many Danish footballers have left their mark on the beautiful game, and their influence goes well beyond the iconic EURO 1992-winning team. The current national team shows signs of a bright future, too, with many of its players representing some of Europe’s top clubs.

Football is one of the most popular sports in Denmark, and the entire country turns out in red and white to support its national teams in major tournaments.

Many of the best Danish soccer players have kick-started their careers in their homeland before building a reputable career for themselves abroad. But who are the most famous past and current Danish footballers?

Let’s find out!

Past Danish footballers

Before we look at some of the more recent Danish footballers, it’s worth taking a trip down memory lane. Below, you’ll find six players that you’ll almost certainly have heard of before.

Danish Footballers
Credit: Web Summit

Peter Schmeichel

Peter Schmeichel is undisputedly one of the best Danish football players of all time. Affectionately known as the “Great Dane”, Schmeichel is best known for the eight years he spent at Manchester United.

He was a vital member of the 1999 treble-winning team, which saw United win the Premier League and FA Cup — before defeating Bayern Munich in the dying moments of the Champions League final.

Many players struggle to replicate their club form on the international stage, but that wasn’t the case with Schmeichel. He was a regular in the Danish side that won EURO 1992 against all odds in neighbouring Sweden and featured in the final as they beat Germany 2-0.

Schmeichel began his career in Denmark. He moved to Brøndby from Hvidovre and featured in the first-ever Danish Superliga season — which Brøndby won.

After leaving United in 1999, Schmeichel won the Portuguese Superliga with Sporting Lisbon. He returned to England in 2001 with Aston Villa before finishing his career at Manchester City.

Danish Footballers
Credit: Vyacheslav Evdokimov

Jon Dahl Tomasson

Jon Dahl Tomasson is Denmark’s joint-leading goal-scorer and one of the Best Danish football players of all time.  Between 1997 and 2010, Tomasson played 112 times for his country and netted on 52 occasions.

After scoring 23 goals for Køge in the 1994 Danish 2nd Division season, Tomasson moved to the Dutch side Heerenveen. He scored 24 goals in all competitions in the 1996/1997 season, which resulted in Premier League side Newcastle United bringing him to Tyneside.

The Dane, however, struggled in England. After just four goals in 35 appearances across all competitions during the 1997/1998 campaign — in which Newcastle finished mid-table — he moved back to the Netherlands with Feyenoord.

Tomasson became a cult hero in Rotterdam, hitting double figures in each of his four seasons at De Kuip. The forward, who also has Finnish and Icelandic descent, scored 13 league goals in his first season — which helped Feyenoord win the Eredivisie by 15 points.

In 2001/02, Tomasson was instrumental in Feyenoord’s UEFA Cup triumph. He scored the goal that saw his side progress against Inter in the semi-finals before netting the winner in the final against Borussia Dortmund — which was held in Rotterdam.

Tomasson moved to Italian giants AC Milan that summer, winning the Champions League in 2003 before helping his side lift the Serie A title the following year. Tomasson also won the UEFA Super Cup, Coppa Italia, and Supercoppa Italia in his time at Milan.

The Dane later played in Germany for VfB Stuttgart and made four appearances as the side won the 2006/07 Bundesliga. He then returned to Feyenoord and enjoyed a prolific spell before retiring.

Today, Tomasson manages Swedish side Malmö. He guided the side to the Allsvenskan title in 2020 and 2021. 

Danish Footballers
Credit: Dmitriy Neymyrok

Dennis Rommedahl

Dennis Rommedahl is a name that Premier League fans will know well. The winger started his career in the Danish Superliga for Lyngby before spending eight years at PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

Rommedahl won four Eredivisie titles at PSV and played over 200 times in all competitions for the side. While at PSV, he also spent the 1997/1998 campaign on loan at RKC Waalwijk.

In 2004, Rommedahl moved across the North Sea to play in the Premier League with Charlton Athletic. The Dane spent three seasons in South London before leaving after the Addicks were relegated in 2007.

Rommedahl moved back to the Netherlands after his Charlton departure and spent three years at Ajax. During his time in Amsterdam, the winger won the KNVB Cup in his final campaign before joining Olympiakos — and later returning to his homeland to spend two seasons at Brøndby.

After departing Brøndby, Rommedahl moved to the Netherlands again to play for RKC Waalwijk. But due to injuries, he never featured in his second spell.

Rommedahl regularly featured for Denmark throughout his career. He scored 20 times in 126 international caps and played for his country at the 2002 World Cup and EURO 2012.

Danish Footballers
Credit: Doha Stadium Plus Qatar

Michael Laudrup

Michael Laudrup is one of the most gifted footballers that Denmark has ever produced and has been named the best-ever player in his homeland and all of Scandinavia. After spending the early stages of his career at Køge and Brøndby, Laudrup signed for Lazio in Italy.

Laudrup moved to Juventus in the summer of 1985, and it was there that his stock began to significantly increase. The attacking midfielder played 29 league games as the Old Lady lifted Serie A in 1985/1986 and moved to Barcelona in 1989 — which is where most people will remember him.

The Dane’s time in Catalunya was trophy-laden, to say the least. Laudrup helped Barcelona to four La Liga titles and the 1992 European Super Cup. He didn’t feature for Denmark at EURO 1992 because of disagreements with the national team’s manager, so he didn’t receive a medal for that triumph.

Laudrup left Barcelona in the summer of 1994 to join bitter rivals Real Madrid, and he helped the side win La Liga in his first season at the club. After two years in the Spanish capital, he featured for Vissel Kobe in Japan and Ajax in the Eredivisie.

With his playing days now behind him, Laudrup has stepped into management. He helped Brøndby win the 2004/05 Danish Superliga and the Danish Cup in 2003 and 2005. The Dane has tried his luck in the Premier League, helping Swansea win their first-ever major trophy in 2013.

Unable to replicate the previous season’s form, Laudrup was sacked by Swansea in the following season. Since then, he has managed sides in Qatar.

Laudrup received an Order of the Dannebrog award in 2000.

Danish Footballers
Brian Laudrup (left)
Credit: Jonbear83

Brian Laudrup

While Michael Laudrup didn’t play for Denmark at EURO 1992, his brother — Brian — did. And like his brother, Brian Laudrup had a glittering professional career with plenty of silverware throughout.

After beginning his career with Brøndby, where he twice won the Danish 1st Division, Laudrup moved to Germany. He first signed for Bayer Ürdingen before joining heavyweights Bayern Munich.

In the same summer that he helped Denmark win the European Championships, Laudrup signed for Fiorentina in Italy.

He spent the 1993/1994 season at AC Milan, but his appearances were limited. At the time, clubs in the country could only field three foreigners — and Fabio Capello’s side was rotated heavily. Laudrup only made 18 appearances in all competitions, though the Milanese outfit did win both the Italian league and Champions League that year.

Laudrup joined Rangers in the summer of 1994 and became a hit at Ibrox. During his time in Scotland, the Dane helped the Gers win three successive Scottish Premier League titles. Rangers also lifted the 1996/1997 Scottish League Cup and 1995/1996 Scottish Cup. Laudrup featured alongside English footballing legend Paul Gascoigne while playing for the Glasgow side.

After a successful stint at Ibrox, Laudrup played for Chelsea — before returning to play in his homeland for FC Copenhagen. He finished his career at Ajax.

In addition to EURO 1992, Laudrup won the 1995 Confederations Cup with Denmark; his brother was part of that squad.

The Dane won several individual awards throughout his career and was lauded by journalists for being an incredibly gifted player. Laudrup was also nominated for the Ballon d’Or on several occasions.

Danish Footballers
Credit: Кирилл Венедиктов

Nicklas Bendtner

Nicklas Bendtner might be better known than some of the Danish football legends we’ve already listed to the younger generation. Whether those are for good or bad reasons are up to you.

Bendtner spent much of his career at Arsenal, but he first made a name for himself during a loan spell at Birmingham City in the 2006/07 season. The Dane scored 11 Championship goals for the Blues in that campaign and helped them win promotion to the Premier League.

The Dane’s form for Birmingham saw him receive more first-team chances with the Gunners in the following season. He featured 40 times in all competitions during that campaign and 50 in the one after that — where he netted 14 times in the league and cups.

Bendtner enjoyed a relatively successful loan spell with Sunderland in 2011/12, but after that is where things began to unravel.

At EURO 2012, Bendtner scored in a 3-2 defeat against Portugal and revealed the top of his underwear — which had the Paddy Power logo on them. The Dane was fined £80,000 for that stunt.

Bizarrely, Italian giants Juventus decided to sign Bendtner on loan in 2012/13 — though he rarely featured. In Germany, his stint at Wolfsburg was somewhat fruitless; he managed a single goal in the 2014/15 Bundesliga season and two in the next campaign.

Struggling for form, the Dane joined Championship side Nottingham Forest for the 2016/17 season. His time there didn’t go well, and he headed to Norway to rekindle his career.

Bendtner’s first season at Rosenborg was fruitful. The striker scored 23 goals in all competitions, and the Trondheim outfit won the Eliteserien title. He regularly featured in the 2018 campaign but was arrested that year for assaulting a taxi driver in Copenhagen — after which he had to serve a 50-day prison sentence.

The striker played a few times for Rosenborg at the beginning of the 2019 season before joining FC Copenhagen. However, he only scored once in nine games during his time at Parken and has since retired.

Bendtner is known in the footballing community, especially among Arsenal fans, as “Lord Bendtner” — a meme that became popular on social media and which Bendtner has joined in with himself. In 2015, he also put himself forward for the Danish Presidential Elections.

Current Danish football players

Denmark’s footballing fortunes have gone upwards in recent years, and the side has broken into the top 10 of the FIFA World Rankings — along with enjoying a successful 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Below are five current Danish players whose names you’ll probably have heard before.

Danish Footballers

Simon Kjær

Simon Kjær is the current Danish national team captain and has a wealth of experience for club and country. He was nominated for the Ballon D’or in 2021 after a string of impressive performances for Denmark, while he also helped AC Milan qualify for the 2021/2022 Champions League.

Kjær began his career in the Danish Superliga with FC Midtjylland but has since played outside of Denmark. He spent many of his playing days as a midfielder before converting to a central defender.

Besides Milan, the Dane has played for several clubs in Italy. He had loan spells at Roma and Atalanta and spent two seasons at Palermo. Kjær also played in Spain with Sevilla, France with Lille, and Turkey with Fenerbahçe.

Kjær has played over 100 times for the Danish national team. Alongside EURO 2020, he featured for his country at the 2018 World Cup in Russia — where he was also captain.

Danish Footballers
Credit: Антон Зайцев

Kasper Schmeichel

Like his father, Peter Schmeichel will go down in footballing history as one of Denmark’s best-ever goalkeepers.

Schmeichel’s professional break came at Manchester City, where he was part of the youth team. He joined sides on loan in England, including Bury and Darlington. Schmeichel also played north of the border for Falkirk.

In 2009, Schmeichel chose to leave City and join Notts County — who were then in League Two. He helped the side win the League Two title before heading to Leeds United the following season. In their first season back in the Championship, the club just missed out on the playoffs.

At this point, the Dane’s stock was rising significantly. Leicester came calling in the summer of 2011, having just been taken over. After years in the doldrums, which included a season in League One, the Foxes were promoted to the Premier League in 2014; Schmeichel played every league game for the club.

But it was in 2016 when he was part of arguably football’s greatest-ever story. Leicester were among the favourites for relegation — and at odds of 5,000/1, it was safe to say that nobody expected them to be in a title fight. Yet remarkably, they won the Premier League; Schmeichel was a mainstay in that side.

The following season, Schmeichel was instrumental in Leicester’s run to the Champions League quarter-finals. He pulled off a crucial save in a 1-0 group stage victory against FC Copenhagen to deny Andreas Cornelius a stoppage-time equaliser.

Schmeichel was Denmark’s first-choice goalkeeper at the 2018 World Cup but was unable to stop them from losing to runners-up Croatia on penalties in the round of 16. Not that it was without a solid effort; he saved a penalty in extra time, along with two in the shootout.

At EURO 2020, Schmeichel was again influential and helped his country reach the final four. He saved a penalty from Harry Kane against England in the semis but was hapless in stopping the forward from scoring the rebound.

Danish Footballers
Credit: Minhtutvn

Christian Eriksen

Christian Eriksen is one of the most famous Danish footballers, especially for Premier League fans. Born in Middelfart, Eriksen spent much of his youth career in Denmark before Dutch side Ajax signed him up. He progressed into the senior team during his time in Amsterdam, making over 100 league appearances and helping the side win three consecutive league titles.

His impressive form for Ajax saw Tottenham Hotspur bring him to North London in the summer of 2013. Though Spurs didn’t win any silverware in his time at the club, they did finish runners-up in the 2018/19 Champions League and 2014/15 League Cup.

With his Spurs contract winding down, Eriksen joined Inter Milan in the January 2020 transfer window. The following season, he played 26 league games as Inter won their first Serie A title in 10 years.

By this point, Eriksen was a key player for Denmark and had been expected to play an important role for his country at EURO 2020, held a year late due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But early in the opening game against Finland, he suffered a cardiac arrest. Although the match restarted, Denmark were far from their best for the remaining minutes.  

Remarkably, Eriksen started training on his own again but wasn’t allowed to play in Serie A with an invertible cardioverter-defibrillator. As a result, the club was preparing to end his contract in December 2021.

At the time of writing, Eriksen has joined English Premier League side Brentford, in West London. Capping off an extra-ordinary comeback story.

Danish Footballers
Credit: Northside

Thomas Delaney

Thomas Delaney is a popular name in the Copenhagen area (unless you’re a Brøndby fan, that is). The midfielder came through the youth ranks in the capital before becoming a crucial member of FC Copenhagen’s senior side.

Delaney was part of an FCK era in which they dominated Danish football. He contributed to five Danish Superliga titles, though he moved to Werder Bremen halfway through the 2016/17 campaign that he received a medal for.

After a successful beginning to his career in the Danish capital, Delaney was on the move just south of the border. He spent one-and-a-half seasons in Bremen before Borussia Dortmund signed him for roughly €20 million.

Delaney played 30 times for Dortmund in his first season at the club, and the Dane featured as a substitute in the 2021 DFB Pokal final.

After four years at Borussia Dortmund, Delaney joined Spanish side Sevilla.

Delaney is a regular for Denmark’s national team and has played over 60 times for his country. He featured for the side at EURO 2020 and scored the opening goal in the quarter-final victory against the Czech Republic.

Danish Footballers

Andreas Christensen

Andreas Christensen has become a key figure in the heart of his national side’s defence. After spending his youth career at Skjold Birkerød and Brøndby, he joined Chelsea’s youth team in 2012.

Much of Christensen’s early development at a professional level came in Germany, where he spent two seasons on loan at Borussia Mönchengladbach. There, he played over 60 Bundesliga games and won their player of the year in 2015/16.

Since then, Christensen has gone on to feature several times for Chelsea. He played 40 times in all competitions in the 2017/18 campaign and came on as a first-half substitute in the 2021 Champions League final. Thomas Tuchel’s side won that game 1-0, beating Manchester City to lift their second European crown.

Christensen played all six games for Denmark at EURO 2020 and scored in their 4-1 win against Russia, which ensured their progress to the competition’s knockout stages.

Danish football is on the rise, but its heritage is also strong

Considering football’s popularity in Denmark, it’s unsurprising that the country has produced so many famous players over the years. This list only scratches the surface; there are plenty of past greats and current stars that we didn’t have enough room to fit in.

The current group of Danish players will look to build on their recent success in the coming years, and we’ll see many individuals in their current group develop into stars. You can also be certain that they’ve inspired the next generation of Danes to follow in their footsteps.

Another thing that’s popular in Denmark is beer. It often goes hand-in-hand with football, unless you’re playing, of course. Before you come here, why not read up on Copenhagen’s beer scene?

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