Andreas Bjelland’s personal path to the FIFA World Cup™ mirrors that of his nation. The defender made his international debut four months after Denmark’s most recent World Cup game, their defeat against Japan at South Africa 2010, and has played a key role in securing his country’s return to the global stage after an eight-year absence.
“It’s been a long journey,” Bjelland told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview. “I started off by getting a call-up from the U-21s. There was an injury and I started the senior side’s game [against the Czech Republic]. It was a big moment. I went to the Euros in 2012 and didn’t play, but hopefully that’ll change at the World Cup. I’m going there to get some minutes.”
He played all 180 minutes of the Danes’ crucial qualifying play-off double-header against the Republic of Ireland. A terse goalless draw in the first leg in Copenhagen set up a mammoth task in the return match for Hareide’s men in Dublin. When recalling the games, Bjelland exudes the confidence that saw his side recover from a tough position.
“We were hoping for them to move the bus they parked in front of the goal [in Copenhagen] when they played at home,” Bjelland said. “They did that when they scored the first goal, and we were a little bit taken aback. People were talking a lot about them having more passion than the Danish players. That just wasn’t true. If you don’t believe and don’t have the passion to go to the World Cup, you may as well stop playing.”
“Even though they scored first, I felt like we were going to score, with the quality we have. I didn’t think it was going to be 5-1 though. That was just an unbelievable feeling.”