The figures speak for themselves: in the FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers for 2006 and 2010, Soren Larsen scored no fewer than ten goals. The 28-year-old was the top-scorer in Denmark's qualifying group for South Africa, leaving superstars such as Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic well and truly in the shade.
An even more impressive statistic is the fact that Larsen needed only 308 minutes of playing time to score the five goals which helped his team secure their South African adventure. "I feel really comfortable in the system that we play," the striker explained. "I've been playing in this kind of formation for almost 15 years, I know exactly how it works and it's pretty simple at the end of the day. I simply get more chances when I'm playing for Denmark – plenty more than I've ever got in club football."
In his first five games for his country, the 1.93m striker scored an incredible six goals, and he was soon being described as "the best Danish forward for almost 100 years."
Born in Koge, Larsen played for Copenhagen, Stockholm and Schalke before moving to Ligue 1 team Toulouse 18 months ago. He struggled to settle in France however and agreed to a loan spell at German second division outfit MSV Duisburg – a move which he did not see as a step back, as he explained to FIFA.com. "After a year without playing in Toulouse, I was ready to try something new, and it turned out to be the right move. Unfortunately I also struggled with injuries in Duisburg."
The striker is back on form however, just in time for the FIFA World Cup™, and is hoping that he can help his country pull off a shock result or two. "Anything is possible," he says, "and in any case we are looking to get through the group phase." The mental strength of the squad is what gives Larsen optimism ahead of the journey to South Africa. "Team spirit is our real forte. We have a very tight formation but we can break quickly by passing the ball out to the wings like the Dutch do, if not to the same standard. We all fight for each other too; if one of us makes a mistake, then two others will run a hundred yards to come and help out. We had a lot of injuries to deal with during the qualifiers, but we still got the results, and that shows not only our fighting spirit, but also that we can play a little bit as well. We're not an easy opponent."
The Danes are not among the favourites to go all the way in South Africa, and Larsen knows this full well, tipping Spain instead. "They're on fire at the moment, simple as that. If it ends up being a Spain – Brazil final then it's 50-50. I'd still go for the Spanish though, but only if they're all on top of their game."
Whatever happens this time around for the 1992 European champions, Larsen certainly has no intentions of hanging up his boots after the tournament. He will be 32 when the 2014 FIFA World Cup comes around, "so it's still a possibility, but we're Denmark, and we're not always guaranteed to qualify. You never know, 2010 might be my last crack at a World Cup."
And since it might be his last chance, Larsen is certainly looking forward to it. "It's going to be a great tournament. It's the first time that the World Cup is being held in Africa, so it should be really special."