Denmark squad for Women’s Euro 2022: player profiles - Harder, Sørensen...
The 2017 runners-up have high hopes of escaping a tough Group B and going far again.
As part of the Guardian’s Women’s Euro 2022 Experts’ Network, a collaboration between media outlets from 16 countries, AS is offering in-depth profiles of the players in all 16 squads at the tournament, which runs from 6 to 31 July. This lowdown on the Denmark team is written by Sofie Engberg Munch of TV2.
Date of birth: 05-05-1993
Larsen is not only a goalkeeper in a top team in Damallsvenskan, but she is also a certified lawyer. She has been around the Danish national team for a couple of years now having so far acted as a superbly reliable No 2 to Lene Christensen. Her national team debut came in Algarve Cup in 2020 against Sweden. She was born in Glostrup, a suburb to Copenhagen, and has played in most clubs around the capital. She started playing football at the age of six but also did taekwondo, jujutsu, gymnastics and swimming when younger.
Date of birth: 04-02-2000
Club: Rosenborg BK
Talk about a player who knows how to make an entrance on the big stage. After a covid outbreak in the Danish national team before the last Euro qualifier against Italy in December, which forced Denmark’s now retired first choice Katrine Abel to quarantine, a 20-year-old Christensen rose to the challenge. A clean sheet and a player-of-the-match performance later and Denmark had found their new No 1. Having been voted “Talent of the year” in Denmark 2020 and having won a place on Uefa´s “10 young players to watch in 2021″ this 167cm tall goalkeeper is likely to keep Denmark in safe hands for not only the Euros, but for the foreseeable future.
Date of birth: 17-03-1998
Her surname meaning swan, which is the national animal of Denmark, you’d think that she will have a great career for the national side. She is not putting all her eggs in the football basket though, continuing to study medicine at Aarhus University. Born in Assens on the island of Fyn, Svane has been playing in Aarhus since 2015. She is now a captain and an incredibly important player for a struggling AGF side. Had yet to make her national team debut by the end of May.
Laura Frederikke Worsøe Nielsen
Date of birth: 28 October 2001
Club: Odense Q
Maja Bay Østergaard
Date of birth: 28-03-1998
Club: FC Thy-Thisted Q
There is no doubt whatsoever when the 171 cm tall Østergaard is on the pitch. You can hear her from miles away screaming her instructions to her teammates. She got her first call up in April 2022, but she’s been knocking on the door to Lars Søndergaards team for a while with great performances for her club. Was named player of the match when Thisted wrote history last year by winning their first ever Cup final: “Those matches have so far been the highlights of my career,” she said “but I dream of playing for the national team and in the Champions League.”
Date of birth: 16-06-91
Club: FC Rosengård
The last time Veje scored for the national team Denmark went all the way to the Euros final (which they lost to hosts Netherlands in 2017). Not known for her goalscoring prowess then but the defender is extremely versatile and has gone from playing as a winger to wing-back to her current role, the left central defender in a three-player defence. She likes to dribble and has a wicked left foot. When she was younger, she used to play with both Rasmus Falk (now FC Copenhagen) and Christian Eriksen (Brentford) in their local club in Middelfart. Taking part in her fourth European Championship, Veje has been one of the best defenders in the Swedish top flight since her move from Arsenal to Rosengård in 2020.
Date of birth: 03-03-94
Club: BK Häcken
Luna Gevitz has won only 16 caps at the time of writing but this central defender has been in and around the national team ever since her debut in 2014 and was part of the silver-winning squad at the 2017 Euros. Alongside her football career, she has been studying to become an architect and graduated in the beginning of 2022 after six and a half years of hard work. In fact, she lists the fact that she is an architect before being a footballer on her Instagram account. At the same time, she managed to play as professionally in three different countries. “I like have a lot on,” she says. She is an essential part of the title challenging Häcken in Sweden, having been named in the leadership group at the start of the 2022 season
Date of birth: 19-01-99
She may only be 23 years old but Lundorf has already been part of PSG’s youth-set up, played for Brighton in the WSL and is now turning out for Juventus, where she has settled in well since her move to Turin in 2020. She is from a football-loving family and started playing at the age of eight. Her family is incredibly supportive of her career, although her brother did take a small break from playing a couple of years ago because he could not quite handle her being the better footballer. “His friends were asking why he stopped, and he was like; I don’t want to play anymore, cause my sister is better than me. It’s embarrassing,” she said once.
Date of birth: 15-05-96
Like a train, Sara Thrige will run up and down the right side for Denmark this summer. Captain at her former club Fortuna Hjørring, Thrige last year took a step out of her comfort zone with a summer transfer to Milan, where she has mostly been used as a right wing-back. Calm on the ball with an eye for a good pass – she often gets assists – Thrige likes to be involved in the attacking part of the game. Born in Farsø, Sara is not the only footballer in the family. Her twin sister Sofie is playing as a defender for B.93 in the second tier in Denmark. “I never really had a role model growing up,” she told the Milan website upon joining “I have always just wanted to be the best I can be.”
Simone Boye Sørensen
Date of birth: 03-03-92
Started playing football at the age of seven and is one of the strongest defenders in the European game, both physically and mentally. Sadly she has had a lot of bad luck, including injuries, but when fit she will step up and take responsibility. When Denmark needed her the most, in the penalty shootout against Austria in the semi-final of the 2017 Euros, she stepped up and dispatched the decisive spot-kick. Often deployed as a centre-back, she can also play further up the pitch as a defensive midfielder. “I’m a leader when things are difficult,” she said after joining Arsenal from Bayern Munich in 2021.
Stine Ballisager Pedersen
Date of birth: 03-01-94
Ballisager or just “Ballis” loves defending. “There is nothing better than making the perfect slide tackle,” she has said. She is a fighter and a leader and has been the captain of both her former club VSK Aarhus (now AGF) and Vålerenga, her current club in Norway. She made her Denmark debut in 2013 and squeezed into the 2017 Euro squad but did not play a single minute in the Netherlands. This time she will be an important part of Lars Søndergaards team, having made her way into the starting XI for the past couple of years. It has taken dedication, hard work and no small amount of patience: she had to wait more than five years between her second and third cap.
Date of birth: 15-07-96
Another leader in this Danish squad. It did not take long after arriving at FC Fleury 91 in France before she was made captain and she is the vice-captain of the national team. Normally playing in the centre of the defence, she used to be quite right-footed but these days her left foot is just as strong. Born in Nykøbing Falster, she began playing with boys at the age of three and carried on with them until her parents started a girls’ team. The national coach, Lars Søndergaard, has praised her positioning and passing from the back but says she has to become even more of a leader to reach her potential.
Name: Sara Holmgaard
Date of birth: 28-06-99
Club: Turbine Potsdam
Just like her identical twin sister Karen, Sara is a player with a lot of potential. She has been unfortunate with injuries since joining Turbine Potsdam in the Frauen-Bundesliga from Fortuna Hjørring in 2021 but, when fit, she has shown that the physical and tactical game in Germany suits her well. A technically gifted left full back Holmgaard is, just like her sister, cool and composed under pressure. The 174 cm tall player wants to contribute going forward with goals and assists. In a joint interview with DR, the twins agreed that Sara was by far the worst loser of the two. “When we play at home,” said Karen, “and you lose, you get really angry, go away and blame others.”
Date of birth: 30-10-02
Club: HB Køge
Obaze impressed people when part of HB Køge’s run to the Champions League group stage in 2021-22. Originally from Kolding, this versatile player can play in most of the positions across the defence. She is left-footed, fast, physical and skilful. Considered going into show business to become an actor, just like her brother, but opted for football and it paid off as she joined HB Køge on an incredible journey. When Obaze joined in 2021 they had already won five straight promotions but with the defender in the team they completed the fairytale and won the Danish top flight as newcomers.
Date of birth: 23-03-01
Club: West Ham United
Stemming from the small town of Dronninglund in the northern part of Jutland this technically gifted midfielder has already more than 20 caps at the age of 21. Made a good impression in the World Cup qualifying and was the biggest star of the Kvindeligaen in the autumn, scoring 13 goals in 14 games for Fortuna Hjørring before moving to West Ham. She got lightning-quick dribbles, a wicked set-piece right foot and a distinctive running style. Snerle may not be the biggest player on the field but it is very difficult to take the ball from her feet.
Date of birth: 16-02-00
Playing in Norway the always-smiling Thomsen likes to spend some of her spare time in the north to do some cross-country skiing and making pizzas. During the first lock down Thomsen started knitting with her mom. Also a nutrition assistant, Thomsen plays on the right wing and has got a dangerous right foot. She likes to dribble but has no trouble in taking defensive responsibilities too, meaning she can be used as wing-back and full-back. Signed a new contract with Vålerenga in December 2021, saying she “is still young and has a lot to learn but this feels really, really good”.
Date of birth: 24-07-95
Club: FC Rosengård
Back in Scandinavia after two successful seasons with Florentia in Serie A, Thøgersen moved to Copenhagen to play for Swedish side Rosengård on the other side of the water. A smart and quick player, she unfortunately suffered an ACL injury in the summer of 2021 and has been battling back to full fitness since then. While celebrating her first ever league title with Fortuna Hjørring in 2014 the podium collapsed under Thørgersen and her teammates as they lifted the trophy. No one was hurt and it won Fortuna a nomination for best celebration at the 2014 sport awards in Denmark.
Date of birth: 28-06-99
Club: Turbine Potsdam
While playing for Fortuna Hjørring Holmgaard made so many interceptions that the local AGF fans got agitated. “She is so good that even if you think a player has gone past her another incarnation of Holmgaard shows up!” Has spent all her football-life playing with her identical twin Sara. From Vejle to Fortuna Hjørring and now in Turbine Potsdam and the national team. The strong, left-footed, central midfielder has great vision and is very composed on the ball. She has had her fair share of injury problems but scored her first goal for Denmark this spring, three years on from her previous cap.
Kathrine Møller Kühl
Date of birth: 05-07-03
Club: FC Nordsjælland
Kühl or “Ke”, as she is known, made it on to the list of the world’s best young players, published by the website goal.com. And there certainly is no fear. When coming on against Spain last year to win her third cap, she wasted no time in getting the ball, leaving Alexia Putellas behind her with a slick turn, in a game where Denmark had seen very little of the ball. But the promise has been there for a while now. Was player of the match at the age of 16 as FCN won the Danish Cup and is the youngest player in this squad. The 19-year-old has world-class technique and vision, and she is not afraid to use it. She will finish school this summer and the dream is to eventually play for one of Europe’s biggest clubs. She is taking nothing for granted, though. After making her Denmark debut against Wales she said: “I had to hit myself three times on the head to understand that it had really happened.”
Date of birth: 15-08-88
Club: Reading FC
Troelsgaard is one of the most experienced and fit players in the game and, more often than not, you will find her in the nearest gym. “I’m addicted to training,” she once admitted. Started playing at the age of six she now has more than 160 caps and 55 goals for the national team. Now at Reading, the versatile midfielder is known for her array of pre-match rituals. She is fiercely competitive and once got so angry at training with Brøndby that she stormed off the pitch and drove back to her family in Vejen two and a half hours away. Troelsgaard is a family person, and she is especially close to her twin sister and former footballer Lotte. Her football-loving dad passed away from cancer just before the 2013 Euros and every time she scores a goal she points to the sky with the message: “He is always with me on the pitch.”
Date of birth: 11-08-00
Club: Real Madrid
“The best left foot in Sweden belongs to a Dane.” – that’s how the newspapers in Sweden used to describe Svava when she played for Rosengård. Now at Real Madrid, the 21-year-old is a rarity in women’s football and that she has already been transferred three times for money, the move to Spain reportedly making her one of the most expensive players to join the Primera Iberdrola. She can pretty much run up and down the left-hand side for hours and her left foot will put crosses into the penalty area throughout a game. Technically gifted and with a flair in her game, Svava will always try to take on her opponents in one-on-one situations. Loves being on TikTok.
Sofie Junge Pedersen
Date of birth: 24-04-92
Wearing a protective headband after a serious concussion, Junge is easy to spot on the pitch. But that is partly because of her playing style too; she has a great engine and is a fighter in central midfield for Juventus and Denmark. She was the first woman to ever score a goal at the Allianz Stadium with her winning header against Fiorentina in 2019. Outside the field Junge is doing lots of volunteering work in Africa and especially in Ghana, where she is involved in the development of football; “I’ve always been interested in the development of Africa and that’s what I want to do when I finish playing.”
Date of birth: 19-12-98
Club: Real Madrid
Joining Real Madrid from Juventus in the summer of 2021 was a dream move for the forward, who enjoys living in the Spanish capital. Møller is capable of playing as a No 9 but also wide and, wherever she plays, she is not afraid to put a tackle in. She has a Zlatan-esque technique, which was showcased when playing for Fortuna Hjørring when a flying backheel hit the woodwork. She also knows how to take a decent Rabona penalty. She is very good friends with her fellow attacker Signe Bruun, having played with her at several clubs and national team age group sides.
Date of birth: 23-09-99
Mille Gejl loves a golazo, but she could barely believe what she had done after scoring a long-range screamer against Russia in a World Cup qualifier in December 2021. It was rightly named the goal of the year for women. She can operate as a No10 or on the wing but wherever she will play she is likely to try that wicked shot of hers. Has struggled with injuries but when fit she is as close to guarantee goals. She made her Denmark debut together with Snerle, Svava and Madsen against Finland and immediately scored the winning goal.
Olivia Møller Holdt
Date of birth: 07-06-01
Club: Fortuna Hjørring
Holdt has been terrorising Kvindeligaen defences ever since she played her first game, still a teenager, for VSK Aarhus (now AGF) back in 2017. Good one-on-one she is a bit of a motor-mouth and entertaining off the pitch but was almost speechless after making her Denmark debut against Ireland. She has been scoring goals for fun in the domestic league – there was a first career hat-trick against AaB – towards the end of 2021 and she is likely to be the next talent to leave Kvindeligaen. Admitted back in 2020 that it would probably work in her favour if the women’s Euros were postponed until 2022. “That would be good for me, hopefully I will have got some more experience by then,” she said.
Date of birth: 15-11-92
Where to start? Two times Uefa Player of the Year, Player of the Year in Germany as the first foreigner, seven times Player of the Year in Denmark and the highest scoring player ever for her country. Add that she is a Ballon d’Or runner-up and twice the winner of the Guardian’s top 100 female footballers in the world and it is quite clear that Harder is a super star of the game. She grew up as a Manchester United fan in Ikast and used to play at the FC Midtjylland academy with former Denmark men’s internationals Erik Sviatchenko and Viktor Fischer. Harder, who comes from a football-mad family, has always known that she wanted to become one the best players in the world. She joined her partner, the Swedish international Magdalena Eriksson, at Chelsea for a world record transfer fee from Wolfsburg in 2020.
Rikke Marie Madsen
Date of birth: 09-08-97
Club: Madrid CFF
How do you celebrate your first international goal? Well, if you are Rikke Marie Madsen you do it with a series of backflips. Off the pitch you can always find her with a contagious smile on her face. She has pace and great work rate and is always trying to find gaps behind the opposition’s defence. Never really thought about playing for the national team before she got the call from Lars Søndergaard. In fact she got the call up while having a Bacardi Breezer in her hand, celebrating the last domestic game in 2018.
Date of birth: 06-09-98
Bruun loves to score goals, and she is pretty good at it as well. At youth level she once scored eight goals in a game for the Danish U-17 side and for the national team she bagged five against Bosnia and Herzegovina in a World Cup qualifier. Moved away from her family at the age of 16 to play for Fortuna Hjørring and then learned French while playing for PSG and Lyon. An ACL injury while in the French capital slowed her progress but she has bounced back and was named Danish player of the year in 2021. Spent the second part of the 2021-22 season on loan at Manchester United but did not manage to score in her five appearances.
Date of birth: 24-01-96
At the last Euros Larsen, who is also an engineer, was deployed as far away from her current forward role as possible on the pitch, deputising at centre-back after injuries. She was so good in that position, as Denmark reached the final, that she has been used there again while still playing as a forward at club level. Started playing at a local club in Ejby but joined Brøndby when she was 12. There she was part of a mural alongside another Brøndby talent Riza Durmisi, in the club house, done to inspire young girls to work hard and fight for their dream to play for the first team.
Date of birth: 02-01-88
Club: Racing Louisville
Born in Afghanistan Nadim fled with her mum and sisters after her father was killed by the Taliban. The plan was originally to go to London but the family ended up in Randers in Denmark. She graduated medical school while playing in some of the world’s biggest clubs and speaks more than eight different languages: “I’m pretty smart. You wouldn’t believe it, but: ‘Surprise!’” she once said. She has got a flair to her game and she is not afraid to make controversial decisions both on and off the pitch, including being an official ambassador for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Nadim is not the only sporty person in her family: her sister Diana Nadim is a professional boxer.
Date of birth: 18-01-02
Drew comparisons with Pernille Harder early on as a precocious striker who left Denmark to join Linköping (the Swedish club Harder played for from 2012 to 2016). Bredgaard is considered to be one of the biggest attacking talents in Danish football and has been to a few trials with Manchester City. At the moment though she is still in Sweden, now with Rosengård. Always ready to take on her direct opponent, she has mesmerising technique and a wicket shot. Has come through all the Denmark youth teams and won her first cap against Azerbaijan in April.