- William Kvist celebrating a decade with Denmark’s national team
Danes on the up again after successive qualifying failures
Kvist discusses vital qualifier against Poland and the prolific Lewandowski
William Kvist made his first appearance for Denmark ten years ago today. Well over 60 caps have since followed, and all his experiences – ups and downs with the national team, and in the top flights of Germany, England and his homeland – have taught the 32-year-old one thing about the beautiful game.
“Football is so black and white,” he told* FIFA.com*. “If you win, everything is super-fantastic. If you lose, you’re a fool.”
Kvist and his Denmark team-mates have found that to their cost over recent years, with successive qualifying failures ensuring that they have been denigrated rather than celebrated. The Danes have an additional burden to carry, too, with the loftiest standards having been set by the ‘Danish Dynamite’ side of the 1980s and the EURO-winning class of '92.
“History can be your friend but it can also be your enemy,” acknowledged Kvist. “We in Denmark have some fantastic memories of those teams, but it’s also true that we can be measured against them in a negative way.
“The team hasn’t enjoyed the best period over recent years and, having had such a long time with Morten Olsen, we needed time to adapt to a new coach (Age Hareide) and a new way of doing things. But now we have some very powerful young players coming through and the balance between them and the older guys like me looks to be finally working.
“The big thing for us has been to get the fans believing in the national team again, and we’re starting to see that now.”
Denmark’s last three results Romania 0-0 Denmark
Denmark 1-1 Germany
Kazakhstan 1-3 Denmark
The reason for that renewed belief is the results and performances that 2017 has yielded. A Danish team that last October failed to take a single point from a double-header against Poland and Montenegro are now back in the FIFA World Cup race, with Kvist key to the turnaround.
The midfielder is one of precious few veterans of the Danes’ last World Cup appearance in 2010 and, at 32, is more important to the national side than ever. Having adapted his game and returned to FC Copenhagen, the club where it all began before his moves to Stuttgart, Fulham and Wigan Athletic, Kvist also finds himself savouring every moment.
“I’m not hunting a big move, a big league or a big contract anymore, and that means I can really appreciate what’s happening now and enjoy the ride," he explained.
“My old legs don’t go as fast as they used to but in some respects I also feel I’m a better player now. I definitely feel I can contribute more to the team, and that’s not only with the ball, tactically and with communication and so on, but away from the pitch too.
“My fortunes have almost mirrored those of the national team; when I wasn’t playing regularly in England, the national team were also having a tough time. Now I feel like I’m on the way up again and Denmark are too. We’re definitely really excited about the game coming up against Poland. It will be tough to catch them but we want to make sure we at least get second and have enough points for a play-off place.”
Denmark’s remaining four qualifiers Denmark-Poland
It is, of course, impossible to look ahead to that upcoming showdown with the Poles without discussing Robert Lewandowski: a man whose six qualifying appearances thus far have yielded 11 goals – three of which came against the Danes.
“Stopping a guy like that is easier said than done,” Kvist acknowledged. “We put a lot of focus on keeping him quiet when we played them away... and he went and scored a hat-trick! We just need to focus on ourselves, make sure our system functions and, if we succeed at that, he won’t have many opportunities to work his magic.
“It’s a massive game for us and for me personally. I’m 33 in January and, realistically, this will be my last chance to play at a big tournament. I feel fortunate to have been to a World Cup already, but getting to another one is definitely one of my last big goals as a footballer.”