In March 2010 Nicklas Bendtner entered his nation’s history books, becoming the first Danish player to score a hat-track in the UEFA Champions League as FC Porto conceded five goals for the first time in Europe’s prestige club competition at the hands of English giants Arsenal. Bendtner is also the first 'Gunner' to score a hat-trick at home in European competition since Alan Smith in the 1991/92 season.
The 22-year-old began his still fledgling career in his home town of Copenhagen before making the switch to England with Arsenal where, following a loan spell at Birmingham, he has established himself as a first team regular. “He’s a player who will improve every year,” says Arsenal coach Arséne Wenger, convinced of the Dane’s qualities. “I want to prove to him that he made the right decision,” declared Bendtner, acknowledging his coach’s confidence, adding, “I’ll show that on the pitch.”
Only an element of consistency now seems to be lacking from the young man’s game. Just days before his outstanding Champions League showing against Porto, the striker claimed a less enviable record. His eight failed goal attempts from inside the penalty area against Burnley topped the previous benchmark set by Sunderland’s Darren Bent, another player with a habit of missing the target from close range. “Doubt is the enemy. I believe you have to have faith in everything you do. But there’s a difference between arrogance and self-belief,” explained Bendtner. “It doesn’t matter to me who is fit and available. I always have to be in the starting eleven. I should play every minute of every game and should always be in the team.”
He largely succeeded during qualifications for the FIFA World Cup™, featuring in nine out of ten games and finding the net three times; twice against group favourites Portugal and once against Albania. Only Sören Larsen with five goals notched a superior goal tally to the 1.91m-tall front man during Denmark’s campaign.
Bendtner made his senior debut for Denmark on 16 August 2006 against Poland having previously represented his country at the 2006 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Portugal. His strike in the 1-1 draw with Brazil in September 2009 was voted goal of the year.
“There is still much more to come from me. I’m going to get better and better,” said the confident striker ahead of the FIFA World Cup. The world will now be watching to see if this young gun can live up to his promises and torment opposing defences in South Africa.