Dennis Rommedahl contested all of Denmark's ten qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. And though the 31-year-old winger failed to hit the target in their successful campaign, he certainly underlined his importance to his country.
Rommedahl’s career, which began in 1995 with Lyngby in his homeland, means he rates alongside the likes of Christian Poulsen, Jon Dahl Tomasson and Thomas Sorensen as one of the Danish Dynamite’s most experienced players.
At the first FIFA World Cup on the African continent, Rommedahl and his team-mates will cross swords with the Netherlands, the player’s adopted nation. The Copenhagen native spent seven years from 1997 in the Eredivisie with PSV and Waalwijk, before returning there in 2007 with Amsterdam giants Ajax.
FIFA.com caught up with Rommedahl to discuss life at Ajax, Denmark coach Morten Olsen, their Group E date with the Netherlands, and hopes of success at South Africa 2010.
FIFA.com: Dennis, you are lucky enough to live in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. How much are you enjoying your current spell with Ajax in Amsterdam?
Dennis Rommedahl: You’re right, Amsterdam really is a very big and beautiful city. You encounter any number of different cultures, and that makes living here very interesting indeed.
Ajax are currently four points off league leaders Twente. How would you assess your title chances?
We’re still in with a shout of winning the league. We believe in our title chances. If we win all our remaining games, we’ll lift the trophy at the end of the season.
And how would you rate your own performances this season?
I’m happy enough, but you can always do better. But it’s nice that I’ve been able to help the team on a few occasions this season and that I’ve taken on a correspondingly important role.
You switched to PSV when you were just 18, going on to win the league four times with the club. How important was your first spell away from home?
Looking at it with the benefit of hindsight, I made a very good decision back then. I came on a long way as a footballer and as a person. It was tremendous for my future career, and very significant too.
You then moved on to Charlton Athletic in England. What do you now think about your time in the Premier League?
It was a terrific experience. I believe it’s the strongest league in the world. I learned a lot of new things there, and I reckon I’m a better player for it.
Turning to your national team, what does being a Denmark regular for almost a decade mean to you personally?
I’m proud to have been part of the Denmark squad for such a long time. Representing my country all over the world as an international is a great honour.
I know an awful lot about the Netherlands. Some of the players are good friends, so it’ll definitely be a very special occasion for me. But at the end of the day, we’ll win the game!
You played all ten matches in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. How would you assess your role for Denmark?
I’m one of the most experienced men in the team, so I try and help the younger players both on and off the field. It’s my contribution towards us producing our best possible performances as a unit.
Morten Olsen has been in charge of the national team for a decade. What is he like as a coach, and what has he contributed to your recent success?
He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for. He makes time for each and every player, and he knows all there is to know about the game. His aim is to help every player improve, with the ultimate goal of us producing our very best form for the national team.
South Africa 2010 will be your second FIFA World Cup, after playing at Korea/Japan 2002. What are you hoping to achieve at the global showdown?
We’ve landed in a difficult group, but we hope we’ll make it to the next stage. If we do make the Round of 16, I’m hopeful we might spring a surprise, because anything can happen in the knockout stages.
You have mentioned your group, where you meet the Netherlands, Japan and Cameroon. How do you rate your opponents?
Obviously, I know all about the Dutch. I’m not really up to speed on Japan and Cameroon but I’m sure the coach will give us all the information we need to do well in South Africa.
We are probably not wrong in suggesting that the Netherlands has become your home from home. What does it mean to you personally to face the Dutch?
Well, as I say, I know an awful lot about the Netherlands national team. I play alongside a few members of the squad, and some of the players are good friends nowadays, so it’ll definitely be a very special occasion for me. But at the end of the day, we’ll win the game!
What are you expecting from the first FIFA World Cup in Africa?
I’m expecting a fantastic tournament, just like every World Cup. I’m really looking forward to South Africa, and can hardly wait for it to start.