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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019
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Letter from Copenhagen: Denmark confident ahead of Irish reunion as Eriksen drops a bombshell

The playmaker’s announcement yesterday is dominating the news ahead of tomorrow’s qualifier.

A general view of the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.
A general view of the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.
Image: Tim Goode

Gavin Cooney reports from Copenhagen 

ONCE MORE UNTO the breach, then.

Our plane hit the tarmac at Copenhagen yesterday afternoon with a brain-juddering thud, weighed down as we were by our emotional baggage with Denmark, which Ryanair at least didn’t try to charge for.

There is some novelty in the fact we are playing Denmark in the summer this time around, as opposed to the bleak and pallid mid-winter whose grey days were dimmed further by Ireland’s exasperating anti-football.

As a result it is pretty hot in Copenhagen, with temperatures lingering in the high-20s. So if you’ve been wondering where the Leaving Cert Weather has gone – it has made like most of its previous students and emigrated.

In the tradition of that exam, these next couple of days will likely feature the furious Googling of ‘Hamlet Quotes’ for article intros, given we have used up the heavy-hitters in our many recent meetings with the Danes.

So if Denmark don’t do something new and cap a Fortinbras or a [checks notes] Horatio on Friday night… then The42 will be forced to move on and vandalise songs from The Little Mermaid instead.

While we devotin’/ Full time to floatin’/ On, er, top of Group D.”

Leaving the airport on Copenhagen’s driverless metro, I earwigged on a conversation between a mother and her teenage son in which the only intelligible words were ‘Real Madrid.’

That Christian Eriksen told a Danish outlet that he is likely to leave Tottenham was undoubtedly the big football news of the day, displacing any early previews of the Ireland game from the top of local news websites.

Denmark v Republic of Ireland - FIFA World Cup - Qualifying Play-off - First Leg - Parken Stadium Christian Eriksen. Source: Tim Goode

Perhaps Eriksen’s Spurs exit is a natural progression in his career and his announcing it at home in Denmark was a carefully planned… or is this the desperate act of a man so discommoded by the prospect of once again facing Ireland that he has panicked and is now desperately groping for whatever exit he can find?

Time will tell on that front.

Onward.

The42’s already fragile self-esteem took a hit to find our AirBnB in a place called ‘Blagards Plads’, but it was mended somewhat later that night, when it turned out I’m at least not the most unwelcome hack of the week.

Blagards Plads, as it turns out, does not directly translate as you might think. Instead it means ‘Blue House Square’, and was once the site of an iron foundry and one of the poorest parts of the city.

It has been redeveloped since, with the central square now a slightly sunken, concrete football pitch surrounded by sculptures depicting tradesmen – coopers, tailors, and barbers among them – with a toddler on each of their backs.

The AirBnB is one of 12 flats in an adjacent building, but finding it was made complicated by the fact there were no names or numbers on any of the doors.

There followed a humiliating ritual in which I pressed my ear against other people’s front doors, trying the key only if I didn’t hear anything on the other side.

Happily, the fourth door – featuring a “refugees welcome” sticker – popped open.

Inside, the living room featured a sign reading ‘Foreigners, please don’t leave us alone with the Danes’ and a copybook inviting guests to write their definition of ‘People Power.’

All prior definitions were in Danish, so I sketched the universal symbol of revolt – a tennis ball.

Walking around Copenhagen, you’re struck by the locals’ outrageous sense of outward peace.

Theirs is a city that just seems to… work.

It’s clean, the public transport runs on time and cyclists are treated with the level of regard Ireland reserves for local politicians once scrutinised by Prime Time.

All of this glorious social order for the Faustian pact of agreeing to pay €9 for a pint.

Hey, maybe it’s not for everyone.

As for the football – Denmark are naturally confident, what with their intangible sense of superiority buttressed by the more obvious evidence that the Irish football team have spent past meetings with them either being mercilessly ripped apart or cowering in fear of being mercilessly ripped apart.

For further proof, see the betting ad that ran during the local broadcasts of last night’s Nations League semi-final between Portugal and Switzerland offering odds on Eriksen scoring the fourth goal of a 4-0 win for Denmark.

Please, lads, we can’t afford any more baggage.

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About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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