Ahead of the announcement of the Denmark squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, most experts agreed on one thing: either Simon Poulsen or Patrick Mtiliga would travel as left-back. In the end, coach Morten Olsen decided to offer both defenders a chance in the Rainbow Nation.
"Simon is very good technically and he's developed enormously of late. He wasn't part of the team last year because he still had to work on a few areas of his game. He's here in 2010, though, because he's matured a lot and turned into a very good player. He has the ability to become a regular for the national team," said Olsen.
Having begun his career as a prolific left winger for homeland club FC Midtjylland, Poulsen's development over the past few years has seen him transform his game entirely. He made his international debut at the end of March 2007 in a 1-0 victory over Germany before winning further caps in November of the same year in a 2-1 defeat to Northern Ireland and a 3-0 victory over Iceland. Since then, however, it looked as though Poulsen had dropped off the international radar.
A €3.5m move to Dutch club AZ Alkmaar in the winter of 2007 proved the turning point for the 25-year-old Scandinavian, who retrained as a defender and soon became a viable alternative for Olsen. Poulsen is now set to fight it out with Mtiliga for a starting spot on the left hand side of defence in South Africa.