If there is one problem position in the Danish national team, it would have to be at left-back. As a result, coach Morten Olsen tested a string of candidates throughout the qualification campaign and friendlies ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Among others, Chris Sorensen, Michael Lumb and Leon Jessen all did their best to cement a place, but none were able to to impress Olsen sufficiently. That opened the door for Patrick Mtiliga, who was a surprise inclusion in the Danish squad for South Africa 2010 having played just 45 minutes for his country previously.
While Mtiliga showed promise in his 37 appearances for the various Danish national youth sides, his career in the senior squad looked to be on standby after he failed to receive another call-up following his debut in a 1-0 defeat to Wales in November 2008. Olsen appeared to have taken his search elsewhere.
However, the 29-year-old never gave up and worked his way back into the side with some good performances at club level. After spells with FC Copehnagen, Feyenoord and NAC Breda, the defender joined Spanish Liga outfit Malaga in the summer of 2009, becoming a regular starter during the 2009/10 season.
Mtiliga's solid displays in one of the strongest leagues in the world did not go unnoticed by Olsen, and the Copenhagen-born full-back with Tanzanian roots is now set to battle it out with Simon Poulsen for a berth on the left side of defence in South Africa.