In an exclusive interview with Andreas Christensen, we discuss his close bond with Brentford’s Danes, the amazing feeling in his home country right now and what he expects from a Bees side flying high in the Premier League…
On Tuesday, they danced together in celebration. Today, as Andreas Christensen puts it, they go to ‘war’.
International team-mates playing against each other at club level is nothing new, yet the paucity of Danes in the Premier League means it is a relatively rare experience for Christensen. It’s what makes this evening’s game so special for him.
There are as many as seven Danish players in Brentford’s first team squad. Christensen has already played alongside three at international level, and it is likely that number will only increase in the future: a further three are regulars in Denmark’s Under-21 side.
With a Danish head coach, a Danish assistant head coach and a Danish co-director of football, there is no doubt the connections between Christensen’s homeland and our west London neighbours extend well beyond the red and white colours they share.
‘Brentford’s rise is definitely something that has been recognised in Denmark,’ Andreas tells us.
‘Everyone knows they have done the hard thing of missing out on going to the Premier League, and having to go back to the top of the Championship again.
‘The players that come to the national team are bringing their Premier League experience now. Everyone in Denmark is happy we have more players in the best league.
‘I’m good friends with them all,’ adds Christensen of his relationship with Brentford's Danes, especially Christian Norgaard and Mathias Jensen.
‘Being in London all together is special. It’s the first time I’ve had Danish people so close to me. We see each other a lot, go for a round of golf or whatever. It is something we try to do as much as possible. It’s always nice to spend time with Danish people.’
There is one shared experience Christensen had with Norgaard and Jensen that sticks in his mind. It was just a couple of days after 29 May 2021, when the Bees beat Swansea at Wembley to secure their place in the Premier League, and we, of course, beat Man City in Porto.
‘I remember asking them if they were nervous before the play-off final if they wouldn’t go up again. They said it would hurt so much because they wanted it so badly.
‘We then saw each other soon after because we were on the same plane from London going to the Euros. Everyone was smiling. We had all achieved something massive. That was a good flight!
‘I think they have taken pride in what they have done,’ Andreas adds.
‘They really enjoy it there. They worked hard, and it was tough on them not to go in the Premier League the first time around, and I am happy for them they did because they have got such a good style.’
Earlier this week, Christensen and his compatriots, including Norgaard and Jensen, rejoiced in Denmark’s emphatic qualification for next year’s World Cup. Played eight, won eight, 27 goals scored, precisely none conceded.
‘I don’t know what it is but since the Euros there’s one way, and that’s forward,’ beams Christensen.
‘It’s a weird feeling but we are trying to enjoy the journey together. It hasn’t always been a pretty picture. When I started in the national team, the stadium wasn’t full and things like that. But now everything has come together. It’s a special feeling and it’s brought us closer.’
During the international break, Christensen reveals Thomas Frank, Brentford’s head coach, visited the Danish training camp. Frank was Christensen’s Under-17 national team coach, and our defender believes ‘he has the same philosophy’ and the ‘same style of playing’ as he did all those years ago.
However, there is an added edge to Brentford’s game Christensen stressed he and his Chelsea team-mates must be ready for today.
‘We all know it is going be like a war when we meet each other, but it’s good fun!
‘In Denmark, we have grown up always wanting to have the ball. That is how football is coached in Denmark. So, they have that in their game, but they also have that hardness you get from playing in the Championship.
‘They are tough players and they work really hard. That’s why I say war. I think it’s going to be a physical match!
‘I’m just looking forward to playing against my friends. I have only really played against one or two players from Denmark, but now it’s going to be three or four in the same team. It’s going to be special, and it’s going to be fun.’
For two hours today, from Aalborg to Aarhus to Copenhagen and everywhere in between, Denmark’s footballing focus will be trained on the Brentford Community Stadium, waiting to see which Danish eyes from the Premier League’s west London divide will be smiling come full-time.