Players are often heard to say that “football is a team game”. However, in its modern incarnation, the sport has become much more of a squad affair making it increasingly important to look beyond the first eleven.
Goalkeepers in particular have an uphill task to break into the side. While outfield players can normally be deployed in several positions, keepers have just one. Stephan Andersen has been a regular in the Denmark squad since 2004 but has yet to break double figures in terms of appearances.
Anderson's class between the posts is beyond question. The 28-year-old has outstanding qualities as a number one, from his quick reactions off the line to his sound understanding of the game.
Having served his apprenticeship at Danish giants Bröndby IF as well as Hvidovre IF, it was with AB Kopenhagen that Andersen made his breakthrough. In 2004, he decided to try his hand in the English Premier League with Charlton Athletic but, with limited opportunities to make an impact, the keeper returned to his home club Bröndby where he has performed consistently since 2007.
Andersen was a regular in the U-20 and U-21 national teams but on graduating to the senior squad has had to content himself with the role of understudy to established number one Thomas Sorensen. At UEFA EURO 2004 he finally had his first taste of major tournament action but was unable to displace his rival for the green jersey.
On the road to South Africa, Andersen appeared three times for Denmark without shipping a single goal. Besides featuring in draws against Hungary (0-0) and Portugal (1-1), he was in outstanding form in his country’s first encounter with Portugal as the Scandinavians triumphed 3-2 in Lisbon. That was a memorable night for the Danish Dynamite, as they overturned a 2-1 deficit with goals in the 88th and 92nd minutes.