Dennis Rommedahl made his senior international debut for Denmark a decade ago, and rates as one of the most experienced campaigners in the Scandinavians’ squad for South Africa. The 31-year-old has earned more than 85 caps for his country, and has contested three FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaigns (2002, 2006, 2010).
Naturally, he was a member of the squads for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan, and at UEFA EURO 2004. "I’m very proud of playing for Denmark for such a long time. Representing your country this way is a real honour,” Rommedahl exclusively told FIFA.com in a recent interview.
The player left his home country for the Dutch Eredivisie and PSV Eindhoven at the age of just 18. "I made a very good decision back then. I came on a long way as a footballer and as a person. It was tremendous for my future career." After a spell on loan with Waalwijk, Rommedahl tried his luck in the English Premier League with Charlton Athletic. "It was a terrific experience. I believe it’s the strongest league in the world. I learned a lot of new things there, and I reckon I’m a better player for it." After three years away, he returned to the Netherlands with the country’s most successful club, Amsterdam giants Ajax. "Amsterdam really is a very big and beautiful city, with any number of different cultures," he reflects.
The most recent FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign underlined the striker’s pivotal role for the Danes. He and Christian Poulsen were the only players to appear in all ten fixtures, and Rommedahl chalked up 862 of a possible 900 playing minutes. " I’m one of the most experienced men in the team, so I try and help the younger players both on and off the field. It’s my contribution towards us producing our best possible performances."
Denmark’s first match in South Africa is against the Dutch, rated favourites to win the group. It is likely to be a very special encounter for the goal-getter and a handful of his team-mates, who ply their trade in the Eredivisie. "I know all about the Netherlands. I play alongside a few members of the team."
The Danes’ upbeat approach to the global tournament is an attitude instilled by Morten Olsen, a man Rommedahl considers "one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for. He makes time for each and every player, and he knows all there is to know about the game. His aim is to help every player improve."
The Ajax striker certainly has reason to be grateful to the veteran coach, as one of Olsen’s first decisions on taking office was to call Rommedahl into the national set-up. He was in the squad for his country’s next 38 matches, starting on 32 occasions. As to the team’s prospects this summer, the 31-year-old feels surviving the group stage is the priority. "And then anything can happen in the knockout stages. The World Cup in South Africa will be a fantastic tournament, just like every World Cup. I’m really looking forward to it."