Simon Kjaer leads Denmark to the semi-finals. Since he saved his colleague Christian Eriksen’s life in the first game, he has been considered a hero everywhere. They have been worshiping him in Denmark for a long time.
The Italian journalist Alberto Cerruti, one of the noble pens of the «Gazzetta dello Sport», demanded these days: «Pallone d’Oro per Kjaer!». In his eyes, the title of world footballer belongs to the Danish captain Simon Kjaer this year. Of course: As a Milanese, Cerruti follows the events around AC Milan, where Kjaer has been the outstanding defense chief for a year and a half. And of course: The whole world saw how Kjaer saved the life of his collapsed teammate Christian Eriksen with first aid measures in the first EM game.
“Pallone d’Oro per Kjaer”? Why not? While Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski and Kylian Mbappé have long since left, the 31-year-old Kjaer appears at this European Championship as it should be for a world footballer. He plays flawlessly, he showed himself to be courageous and determined in an extremely unusual situation, he is the head of a troupe that, contrary to everyone’s expectations, made it into the top 4 of the most important competition of the year.
The Danes would have given Kjaer a prize long ago anyway. In the country of the top scorer Preben Elkjär-Larsen and Allan Simonsen, the offensive stars Michael and Brian Laudrup, the midfield greats Sören Lerby and Frank Arnesen or the goalkeeper legend Peter Schmeichel, in the country of “Danish Dynamite” and the 1992 European champion the still untitled Kjaer has long occupied a place at the top of the Hall of Fame.
Private jet for the other player
Trainers, teammates and fans alike adore Kjaer because he is known for his loyal demeanor, his camaraderie and empathy. For example, when supplementary player Jonas Knudsen, who as a Malmö player is not a football millionaire, became a father at the 2018 World Cup, Kjaer paid him a private jet to Denmark to visit the woman and the newborn. When the former national coach Age Hareide made him captain in 2016, he justified it like this: “It takes a bit of madness in a player. It’s the craziness of getting your teammates to win. Simon has this madness in him. “
Since Kjaer became captain, the team has actually been winning again. The Danes missed the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 European Championship. But at the 2018 World Cup they only failed in the round of 16 in the penalty shoot-out against the eventual finalists Croatia, and at the 2021 European Championship they are in the semi-finals. Kjaer has not missed any of the 29 final and qualifying games during this time. In the meantime he has completed 112 international matches, only 17 are missing before Peter Schmeichel’s record.
Meanwhile, the consistency in the national team does not really correspond with the career at club level. Kjaer has played in four of the five top European leagues, but nowhere is he really happy and settled. In 14 years as a professional, he has hired in nine clubs and six countries. At the Danish club Midtjylland they once said that he only got a contract because his father was a material manager there. In Wolfsburg, coach Felix Magath put him in the stands for months. He stayed with AS Roma, Lille, Sevilla FC and Fenerbahce Istanbul for no more than two years. At Atalanta Bergamo they even deported him after six months.
But parallel to the soaring with the Danish national team, Kjaer now seems to have found happiness in the club. Milan’s upswing from midfield club to second place in Serie A is closely linked to Kjaer’s commitment in January 2020. In Milan, Kjaer still has a contract for one year. The players and the club intend to work together beyond the summer of 2022. Kjaer wants to end his career in Milan. These plans for the future make Kjaer a “Pallone d’Oro”, a world footballer, for Alberto Cerruti. But definitely not just them.