Denmark captain Simon Kjaer has spoken of his pride at leading his country through to the finals of Euro 2020.
Though the Danes are on a 34-match undefeated record – not an officially recognised statistic because a team of amateurs lost a friendly 3-0 against Slovakia due to the unavailability of senior professionals due to a dispute with the country's FA in September 2018 - they were forced to go to the wire in the qualification process.
They needed to avoid defeat against Ireland in Dublin to progress and did just that thanks to a 1-1 draw.
“I am a happy captain,” he told Goal. “To qualify for Euro 2020, where we will play two or three games in our own country at Parken Stadium, which is a fortress for us, is a dream come through. It’ll be great to celebrate this amazing football party. It was absolutely a dream for each of us in the team and the country.
“I am also a proud captain because we have a great group of guys who simply enjoy spending time together, playing football together, winning together.
“And in my own humble opinion, the values of this team fits perfectly to my own personality: with Aage Hareide as a fantastic coach we have built a team in which we work hard for each other, we never give up, we want results and we always want to improve ourselves as a team.”
Kjaer, though, admitted Monday’s assignment was a difficult one.
“It was a tough night in Dublin,” he said. “We did not play our best game, we looked nervous with the ball at times but it is also extremely difficult to play beautiful football against the Irish team, who fight for every ball, for every centimetre on the pitch - and who have the great support of a full stadium.
“I would have wanted us to be much better with the ball because it would have made the game easier for us - but we always work our socks off. On a night when our game did not flow, we still got the result that we wanted.”
Reflecting on his side’s remarkable undefeated run, which does include a defeat to Croatia on penalties at the 2018 World Cup, he said: “It is an incredible run for us.
“We know, that we are not a great international force like the legendary Spanish and the Brazilian national teams who have had these long unbeaten runs, but our team spirit and our hard work means that we simply don’t accept to lose a game. I must admit, I really love that part of our game.
“It is a unique achievement, that we have not lost a game in more than three years. This run and the feeling that we will not lose is giving a big boost to our mentality when we enter the pitch.”