We remember his flirtatious smile, his furious outbursts on the mauve right wing, his slender voice always tinged with joie de vivre and his blond hair in bowl style eighties. 35 years later, we can guess that nothing has changed: on the other end of the phone, Per Frimann is delighted to talk again about Belgian football, the great years of Denmark and his years at Anderlecht. And necessarily the duel that occupies us this Thursday.
At 59 years old for a few days, the nice elf has never won the ball. The one who, with his right flank, made so many purple supporters of the great European years dream, now officiates as a consultant recognized on Danish television. And thus dissect in expert this 2nd duel of Group B. An interview carried out, it is important, before the tragedy lived by Christian Eriksen Sunday night…
” I love Belgium… like everyone else! “begins Per Frimann.” Here in Denmark too, everyone admires the Belgian team, which serves as a bit of a model for our training. Everyone, starting with our national coach Kasper Hjulmand, wants to develop with us a collective game and offensive inspiration. Your Red Devils impress me above all with their collective strength and their ability to play quickly, with a very clean ball circulation. In fact, your national team is a bit like a club team, which benefits from daily work: it exudes fluidity and automatism, each player knows exactly what to do, everything is natural in the game of ‘team. The offensive game is also formidable: there is necessarily Romelu Lukaku, but danger can arise from anywhere, with players like Yannick Carrasco and Thorn Hazard… And then there are midwayers like Axel Witsel and Youri Tielemans, which are magnificent… There is also obviously Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, which will ramp up. Kevin, this is my favorite! Every year for nine years, with my Danish TV sidekick, I publish a book on the best players of the past year. For 2021, I will put De Bruyne at the top of my list! “
“Belgium is playing a game… delicious! “
Leader of the FIFA ranking for almost 3 years (September 2018), Belgium is still looking for its first major title. We must therefore materialize.
” The only weak point that I possibly see in you is the age of the defense, and therefore its slowness. And above all, there is this big question: how will the team react when circumstances turn against them? A match can occur, an injury, a stroke of bad luck … and this is where we see the resources of a team. Belgium is playing a game… delicious! (sic) But the Red Devils are so used to playing brilliantly and eliciting admiration… that I fear the comfort of status. We experienced that in Denmark with the famous generation of 1986: we were already seen as World Champions… and a small grain of sand, the injury of Jesper Olsen against Spain, made everything collapse. Look at the magnificent Brazil team in 1982… then Paolo Rossi and Italy have been there. You also experienced that in Lille in 2016, against Wales. So beware: you are the king, then from one day to the next, you are no longer the king… ” (sic)
“1986, our finest generation …”
The current Denmark may not have the reputation of its predecessors … but it is still in 10th place in the world ranking!
” The best generation was that of 86: we had the talent… but we didn’t yet have this winning mentality. The next one, that of the 1992 European title, was less brilliant in the game, but it had the tactical and counter qualities that the previous one did not have. Then comes the current generation, the third in quality in my opinion, with leaders like Christiaensen is different and Christian Eriksen (Note: absent for the reasons that we know …). It’s a team that shows great collective qualities and solidarity: each player is ready to do anything for his partner! Our team is made up of humble, mobile and very enduring players, where everyone runs for everyone. Our defense is also very solid … and behind it, there is Kasper Schmeichel who is kind of our Thibaut Courtois ours. Individually, our goalkeeper is weaker than your Courtois, but he exudes an extraordinary charisma and he is very precise in the coaching of his rear. Denmark also exudes this pleasure of playing which is one of the foundations of Danish training. Finally, coach Kasper Hjulmand also arrived with new ideas: he is very good at reading a match and analyzing an opponent, while always remaining very calm. It really is ‘the right man at the right place’. I would say that our only weak point is our attackers: Kasper Dolberg and Jonas Older Wind are good players, but the first scores too little and the second is a bit slow. Andreas Cornelius is a good plan B. “
“Me, I say a draw …”
After entering the tournament against Russia and Finland, here is the shock of this Group B.
” Me, I don’t get wet, I predict a 1-1 split “smiles the most Belgian of Danes.” Everything will depend on the outcome of the first match and the dynamic it will have created (Editor’s note: at the time of saying these words, Frimann did not believe in saying so well …) It is obvious that Belgium is the favorite of the match… and even of this Euro, which promises to be very dense. For the win, I see Belgium, France and Portugal… but also England which will have the advantage of playing at home. In a second wagon, I place Italy, Croatia, Germany and also Denmark which, with the 2nd place in this group B, should fall on the Netherlands … which I find unconvincing. And if we reach the quarter-finals, nothing is impossible! Spain, I feel it less: the selection of Luis Enrique is, let’s say, weird… To come back to the Belgium-Denmark match, I think my country has its chances… as long as it doesn’t let you play! We must practice a high pressing and not play five behind, otherwise it is lost in advance. In addition, Denmark has the advantage of the public… and I can tell you that here at home, the supporters are very hot for this Euro. “
It remains to be seen how the Eriksen drama has been digested …
Remarkable fact: the career of Per Frimann, however strewn with injuries that made him retire at only 28 years old, broken ankle, is precisely marked by these confrontations between Belgium and Denmark.
” I was not at Euro 84 where our team beat Belgium in the decisive group match: I was injured just before the tournament. The same in 86, for the World Cup. But in 1989, I made my last match for the national team in Bruges: Belgium won 3-0 and Jan Ceulemans, for one of his last matches in Devil, had scored twice. And my very first match as a consultant, I did it in Brussels with a victory for Denmark (1-3). Since then, I have made more than 1,000 matches as an analyst … “
“Anderlecht was my destiny! “
But Per Frimann’s name remains firmly associated with Sporting Anderlecht, where he arrived at the age of 19.
” It was written that my fate was linked to Anderlecht. What I am going to tell you now, I have never told… In fact, I have known Sporting… since I was 8 years old! That day, it was in 1970, my brother had brought me on the luggage rack of his bicycle to see a Fair Cities Cup match between our heart club, AB Copenhagen, and Anderlecht. Benny Nielsen was my idol, he was leading the attack on my club… and he signed later for Anderlecht. That day, Anderlecht won 1-3: I remember Paul Van Himst, the sparkling game of Sporting and that white jersey that shone in the night. I fell head over heels for this club … And when at 18, I played my very first match in the A team in Copenhagen, I immediately slammed four goals… including three with my left foot! And the day after this match, Sporting called to transfer me… and to replace Benny Nielsen who was leaving for Saint-Etienne. Talk about a fate! It’s like when you dream of something. Me, it’s even better: what I dreamed, I lived it for real! “
“Lozano? What a bastard! “
In the end, Frimann played 6 seasons in Brussels… and forged unwavering links. To the point of returning to it after his career and working there at the European Commission!
“I have never stopped following Belgian football, because the television channel for which I am a consultant acquired the rights to the Jupiler Pro-League. I know very well Wouter Vandenhaute, the President of Anderlecht, who had interviewed me twice at length when he himself was still a journalist. I also went back to say hello to Sporting when Frank Arnesen was Sports Director there. I have wonderful memories there as a player: in the 80s, we played the final rounds of the European Cup every year. We had a team of talent, flair and experience with (Editor’s note: he lists them in a single stream…) the Jacky Munaron, Georges Grün, Morten Olsen, Luka Peruzovic, Henrik Andersen, Ludo Coeck, Frank Vercauteren, Enzo Scifo, Alex Czerniatynski and Erwin Vandenbergh. But the strongest that I have known is Juan Lozano placeholder image : during my very first training, he put me 6 or 7 small bridges! What a bastard, that one! “
And Per to go there with a big burst of laughter… His trademark in short.
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