Christian Poulsen was a near ever-present for Denmark in their successful 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign. The defensive midfielder was on the pitch for 882 out of a total of 900 playing minutes, contributing two goals into the bargain.
Poulsen conforms perfectly to the definition of a holding midfielder in the modern game, responsible for breaking up opponents’ passing moves and recovering possession in the central area. Naturally, the role also demands footballing quality as the link man between the defensive and forward lines, attributes the 30-year-old undoubtedly possesses.
The Dane was just five when he started out with Asnas BK, before moving up the club ladder with the likes of FC Copenhagen, and then switching to the Bundesliga with Schalke, a €7m move in 2002 which represented a record for a Danish player at the time. "Aggressive, but honest," was how he was described by Hans Backe, his coach in Copenhagen. "He works very hard, and knows what it takes to hit your targets. But he’s very modest and doesn’t enjoy life in the spotlight."
The player’s consistent excellence for Schalke brought international recognition, and also successive awards as Danish Player of the Year (2005, 2006), a first for the 1992 European championship-winning nation.
After 111 appearances and three goals in the German top flight, Poulsen spent two seasons in Spain with Sevilla, before joining Italian giants Juventus in 2008. "He’s a brilliant midfielder, wins most of his tackles and his distribution is precise," then Juve coach Claudio Ranieri enthused. "Juventus, with such a rich history and tradition, is something very special, and completely different to anything I’ve experienced before," Poulsen declared, making no secret of his enthusiasm at joining the Turin club.
His medal collection is an impressive one, including the Danish league title (2000-2001), the Danish Super Cup (2001), the UEFA Cup (2006-7), the European Super Cup (2006) and the Spanish Cup (2006-7).
The 30-year-old made his full international debut on 10 November 2001 against the Netherlands and picked up a first taste of the FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan the following year, as the Danes progressed to the last sixteen. The player now boasts more than 70 caps, and also featured at UEFA EURO 2004.
However, the year 2010 began catastrophically for Poulsen. In early January he fractured his left shin and was out of action for two full months. His comeback was dogged by persistent setbacks and minor injury problems, and his potential absence from this summer’s finals would be a significant blow to Danish hopes.