Sorensen talks Everton, Harder and Denmark’s medal hopes
Nicoline Sorensen starred in Denmark’s EURO qualifying campaign
The young forward has also impressed since moving to WSL side Everton
She discusses that move and why Pernille Harder is “the best in the world”
Nicoline Sorensen is a relative newcomer among the game’s elite. But two memorable games in the space of four days underlined that this dynamic young Dane has not only arrived at the top, but is there to stay.
The first came in Empoli, where Sorensen set Denmark on the road to sealing a UEFA Women’s EURO spot, and inflicting Italy’s first home defeat in over five years, with an early goal – direct from a corner, no less. The only question: had she meant it?
“You’re not the first person to ask me that!” she told FIFA.com, laughing. “All I can say is that I was aiming for that front post area. I’m proud of that goal too because it was such an important one and really settled us in the match. From there, we produced one of the best performances I’ve seen from a Denmark team.”
The celebrations that followed reflected the scale of the Danes’ achievement, the outstanding football they had produced and the calibre of opposition.
“That’s my Danish hat in the pictures,” Sorensen said, laughing again. “We like to have fun, and we definitely had a lot of fun that night.
“It was the highlight of my career so far. I’ve been with the national team for a few years now but I’ve never played as much as I have recently. It’s been so nice to play a part in a team that's achieved something special.”
As joyous and justified as Denmark’s celebrations were, Sorensen couldn’t afford to prolong the party or over-indulge. The 23-year-old was, after all, returning to face the second part of that high-stakes double-header: an FA Women’s Cup final at Wembley.
One hundred and twenty draining minutes duly followed in that vast arena and, while Sorensen and Everton equipped themselves well, they were ultimately edged out by a star-studded Manchester City.
“That was a crazy week. Tiring, but amazing too – I’ll never forget it,” she reflected. “The result at Wembley didn’t end up going the way we wanted but that whole experience, everything around the match, was just unbelievable. I came away from that week feeling so grateful for being a footballer.”
For Sorensen, who finished last season as top scorer and player of the year in Denmark’s top flight, the experience also re-affirmed the wisdom of choosing Merseyside as her next destination.
“Everything came together with Everton – the club, the staff, the ambitions – to make me feel that this was the right club,” she said.
“Plus, I think if you were to ask any women’s footballer in the world right now what league they’d want to play in, it would be the WSL. It’s just so exciting and, because of the standard of player, it’s the perfect place if you want to challenge yourself and improve.
“I’m so happy to be here, and to be part of a club that has ambitions to be fighting at the top of the league, challenging for trophies and Champions League spots.”
Age: 23 Favourite position: Though she operates in a variety of attacking roles, Sorensen prefers playing out wide. “It allows me to get the ball at my feet and go at defenders in one-v-one duels." Trivia: The forward forms one half of a Danish duo at Everton alongside international team-mate Rikke Sevecke. “Rikke and I have been friends since we were 14," said Sorensen. "We played in all the national youth teams together.”
Champions Chelsea currently provide the standard for Everton and England’s other title pretenders to aspire to, and Emma Hayes' side were further bolstered this year by the arrival of Pernille Harder. Sorensen, of course, knows the Denmark captain extremely well, and feels Harder deserves to follow up her nomination for The Best FIFA Women’s Player award by taking home the trophy.
“She’s the best in the world for me, and I would actually say that she’s been at that level for the last couple of years now,” said the Everton star. “Everyone saw how good she is at the last EURO (when Harder excelled in Denmark’s run to the final) but ever since then she’s just kept developing her game, and now she’s at a new level.”
Denmark’s play-off loss to eventual finalists the Netherlands ensured, of course, that Harder’s talents were not on show at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™. But with their star skipper now at the heart of a strong and rejuvenated side, Sorensen is confident of the Danes’ prospects at next year’s continental showpiece.
“I think we can come back with a medal again,” she said. “Women’s football has developed a lot in recent years and I think there are a lot of teams in Europe now at a similarly high level, and Denmark is one of those teams. We should definitely be going there looking to compete for the trophy.
“We have Pernille, of course, but we also have a lot of other players who can make the difference. We shouldn’t be afraid of facing anyone.”