Ajax Amsterdam, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Stuttgart and Copenhagen: Jesper Gronkjaer has had a rich and varied career, lacing his boots for some of Europe’s most illustrious clubs. His dazzling attacking play down the wings and unerring ability to play in his team-mates have made him a fans favourite and nowhere more so than in England during his time with Chelsea. Finally, after eight years entertaining crowds in the Netherlands, England, Spain and Germany, the 32-year-old decided that the time was right to return home.
Gronkjaer was already a regular in the Danish youth international set-up by the age of 15 and graduated to the senior team in 1999 at just 22. With 10 years behind him as a full international, he knows how it feels to play in a major tournament, and that will be invaluable experience when it comes to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. He was in the Scandinavians’ squad in Korea/Japan in 2002, featuring in all four games including three in the starting 11. He can also look back on two UEFA European Championships in Belgium/Netherlands (2000) and Portugal (2004).
In qualifying for South Africa, however, the veteran played a peripheral role, appearing just three times and for a total of 70 minutes as the likes of Nicklas Bendtner and Soren Larsen usurped him in the pecking order.
The attacking forward has been plagued by a series of injuries in recent years, but Gronkjaer has fought his way back to become a regular starter for Copenhagen. For Denmark coach Morten Olsen, Gronkjaer is an ideal substitute who can offer a calming influence and a potent goal threat in tricky situations in South Africa.