A revitalised Dennis Rommedahl provided Denmark's dynamite as they ended Cameroon's FIFA World Cup™ hopes at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Tshwane/Pretoria on Saturday evening.
The 33-year-old Ajax winger hauled his side back into contention after the Indomitable Lions had taken the lead in an error-strewn but exciting start to the game. Building on his fine display against the Dutch last Monday, the veteran popped up on the right to square a precise centre into the path of the inrushing Nicklas Bendtner, who gratefully slid the ball into the back of the net. Speaking to FIFA after the game the appreciative Arsenal forward praised Rommedahl, saying: "At the end of the match I went up to him and said, 'We've hardly seen you in the last two years and all of a sudden you've been the best player in our last two matches, and at the World Cup as well'. He really is a strange guy but I love him to bits."
Asked about his performance, which he capped with an excellent winner in the second half – his first goal for his country since June 2007 – Denmark's hero of the hour smiled self-effacingly. "We created some great chances and it was a very open match," he said, attempting to deflect attention away from his match-winning performance. "We've given ourselves the chance of going through if we can win our next match and the team's on a real high right now."
Joker in the pack
Dubbed "the coach's son" by the national press, Rommedahl is a much-loved figure in the Danish dressing room. "The boys love him and they hate it whenever someone criticises him," said a Danish journalist covering Saturday night's game. "The players always have stories to tell you about him. He makes everyone laugh and he just takes life as it comes. Dennis is always happy."
Often singled out for his inconsistent and sometimes erratic displays on Denmark duty, the Ajax wide man, who has spent the last six months on loan at NAC Breda, is an ever-present in Morten Olsen's plans. After the former Denmark captain took over as national coach, Rommedahl played 38 straight internationals. On the scoresheet in the 2-0 defeat of France in the first round at Korea/Japan 2002, he has since sought to remind fans of his worth. In the eyes of his coach and fellow international team-mates, however, he has no points to prove. "Everybody is really happy for him," added Bendtner, genuinely delighted at his colleague's world-class showing on Saturday, one that is sure to win over a good few of his dwindling band of detractors.