Simon Kjær and Peter Schmeichel interview
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Simon Kjær and Peter Schmeichel interview

TV2 · 15 Oct 2023

The full video of the 14 minute interview with Simon Kjær and Peter Schmeichel. It was recorded when Simon Kjær reached Peter Schmeichel's 22 year old record of 129 appearances for the Danish national football team.

Simon Kjær interview

For 22 years and 6 months, Peter Schmeichel held the record for playing international matches for Denmark. Now he has been caught up. 14 years and 4 months after his debut in Sweden in 2009, Simon Kjær - on Saturday evening - hit his 129th international match. We have now gathered the two national team legends, in an exclusive interview to talk about the journey, the record, the pride and the greatness.

Simon, first of all, you reached him, who is sitting right next to you. How is it?

Simon Kjær: "It' s surreal somehow - and a tangential record - you were talking about it just now - that has stood for 22 years, and with a player as a personality as Peter - it's insane to me. And something that I would never have dared to dream about, when I started on the National Team. Will probably never win as much as Peter he did. And I think it´s indisputable that he is one of the biggest personalities in Danish football that I sit next to."

Peter Schmeichel: "You were a bit long about it, we found out - but then I found out -that we've both been about it for an equal amount of time. 14 years. It' s both happy and sad, isn't it? It´s fantastic that a player , who also has that influence on the Danish national team, and had his career, and played in the clubs Simon has played in, has reached this point."

Peter, I have always known you as an extreme winner - that is, there is not something or other that annoys you a little bit - by saying: Well, now I have to surrender this record that I have had for so many years. Doesn't that trigger you a little bit?

Peter Schmeichel: "Now I've known you as someone who asks such questions - so I've prepared for that – No, not at all, records like that are always broken- that is, if you've been the world's best swimmer and broken all records - all of a sudden someone with bigger arms comes along - and then he beats the records... But you just have to... in reality it means a lot - but it must never mean too much either - because that's not what you have to chase - you don't have to chase anything - and especially not when you play a sport like football, which is a team sport where - if the team doesn't work - then it just doesn't work. You can't go out and be an individual person on a football team - and there is also the mindset that you can't chase - that is, those records. So I've been really proud, that I'm the one who has played the most international matches - but 22 and a half years is a really long time, and you can wonder why there aren't any, who have come after that, because we've had enough good ones players for it. We have been to plenty of finals – we have played enough matches that some could have done it. But it's not really something I've thought about as such - ´now that record is been beating´. I'm just glad it's Simon who takes the record - if you play on Tuesday - or Wednesday?"

Simon Kjær: "On Tuesday …"

Peter Schmeichel: "On Tuesday -... which has really had an impact on the Danish national team. And have helped the Danish national team into the period that they have now. So of course you hand it over happily - because then you know it is in safe hands."

What do you actually remember from your debut, Simon?

Simon Kjær: "Carousel trip - it was really…. It was a very special match because, I had been selected before we were in Greece, where I didn't came in, and then we have to play against Sweden. And I know Morten where thinking about whether I had hategame against Ibrahimovic, at the time and things like that. Then I make a penalty after 20-30 minutes - then Thomas (Sørensen) takes it, and it shows afterwards that - Thomas Kahlenberg is one of my really, really good friends and privately, also now - that it is he who scores up there and we win 1-0. It´s also one of the matches that stands out most clearly for me in my career - and my whole family, they were in Stockholm – then I also met my wife, who is also from Stockholm - Subsequently then.."

Peter Schmeichel: "Did you meet her there - that night there after the game?"

Simon Kjær: "I didn't, no -"

Peter Schmeichel: "It could be something you had remembered anyway"

Simon Kjær: "So of course it was a special match to remember"

You have seen this coming for a while Simon - how do you reflect on getting to this point in the history of the Danish national team?

Simon Kjær: "At that point when it starts to get down on me. I started to calculate quietly. Okay, when exactly can I pass, or tangential. And then an injury comes to me, who sets it all a bit in perspective, and made me think differently in terms of the way I do things, the way I live my life to this day. I have mentioned it for many times, but for me to be at Ballon D´Or, and got that experience and recognition. Then three days later, it all smashes inside the knee, and then you can see, there was a long way to go, and in the age I did it. So I knew very well, that it was going to be a long period, but it was also one of the reasons why I had the motivation every single day, was as - Peter also describes - the feeling around the National Team. And I think that is just something unique in relation to the way - our mentality towards the National Team is the same, and for me it's still the same - the joy, and all the things to come home - and also when I came home now. I knew I could come home and tangier - but there has been training every day, and there are some things, that you have to go through every day. So I can sit here today, and say that I am touching the record, that Peter has held for so long."

When did you start to see, that there is a leader in Simon Kjær?

Peter Schmeichel: "I think you could see that almost from the beginning. There is.. it sounds strange to say this, but when you look at body language - when you see how Simon walks - for example. Simon walks in a very specific way, and that in itself does- you just look and think you have to listen to this person. There is a lot of self-confidence in his movement. So I think you should have been able to see that very, very early on, and if anyone, at any time doubts Simon's leadership qualities and what a great leader he is, then you just have to go back, and look at that Finland match. It was - that is, the performance you gave there, it was incredible. Incredible to have that energy and overview, and that understanding of the seriousness of the situation. Not only for the player who was lying there, but for those who were around, plus those who were sitting around, and that there aren't many people in the world, who manage to act like that, in such a very, very pressured situation. And I wouldn't say that you could see it 20 years ago - but you could always see that there were leadership qualities and it was - what can you say.. that put everything in place. I think that day, which was so hard for Denmark - you really, really helped a lot of people through a very difficult period. What you did was completely instinctive - and then there is - you can see it on the pitch - you can see it. . I spoke to your English colleague down in Milan, who you have played alongside, and he just says: But it would never have gone so well for me, if I hadn't had Simon by my side. Simon speaks to me all the time -what I have to do - so I've settled in. That' s what Simon is, and that's what Simon can do."

Simon Kjær: "I have received a lot of publicity and recognition for it. But I could not have done that, unless I had the others to support me around, and the decisions we made, we made them together. I have never been shy, for take the beating, that comes with it when it's the negative side, but my acting and what I've always done, has always and only been in the interests of the team, and I almost never make any decisions myself. These are decisions that I involve people in, so I'm sure it's the team's decision, and that evening in Parken, I also leaned on the team, so we got through it together."

What has been the highlight of your time with the national team?

Simon Kjær: "The national team is - it is the joy - it is the love for the country and for the team, and a privilege to be allowed to play in the shirt. I believe that, even when Peter was playing, he could name countless colleagues like ``Now there's the national team again, now we're going home to the national team'' It has always been a joy for me, and something I look forward to, coming home with the national team. Then we can talk about the final rounds, then we can talk about some individual matches, debuts, ups and downs, and the match against Croatia where we reach the semi-finals, that's all, and there you have the joy of Damsgaard's goal, and the frustration of the penalty. In other words, the matches where we have qualified, that's what I want to say, eight out of ten best memories I have, I have them with the national team."

Peter Schmeichel: "We had that period when people were completely indifferent, and that is just not there anymore. And that is what Simon is helping to create. That it means so much. And when you have that influence on it, where do you place them. Above Elkjær - below Elkjær? I don't know. But it is clearly, at the top of all the players, who have been through the Danish National Team. There is absolutely no doubt about that."

How many international matches are there really left in Simon Kjær?

Simon Kjær: "Yes, that is a good question."

Peter Schmeichel: "I don't count them."

Simon Kjær: "That's a good question, I don't know... I feel good, the head feels good, the body feels good. Enjoying it as long as I still have the drive I have now. That eagerness to keep going and have an impact, and keep getting better every day optimizes things, so I don't see why there shouldn't be many more in me. I love it, but I've also learned not to put a number on anything."

Peter Schmeichel: "I know people talk about, very stereotypically, about age ``Yes, but we also need to have found someone to come after Simon'' and I sometimes sit back and think ``Why ?'' You can´t repair something that is not broken. But of course, you also have to be careful about saying that, because you have a position and a status, there is no point in putting the person in, if the person does not add anything to the team. And precisely in your case, you always want, by virtue of the leader you are, you always want something for the team. Because it's the wildest underrated thing in football, it's leadership."

Simon Kjær: "Peter he sits and talks about a feeling about going home to the National Team. I'm talking about the same feeling. I can nod in recognition to what he says. If you don't have that feeling of going home to the national team, will you ever get it? Or will it just be ``yes, now there are more matches'' So it's true... it's a very, very important aspect of playing for the National Team. And something like.. so we can talk enough, so much about it, but whether you understand it, I'm not sure. You see, I have an idea of what we're talking about, but that feeling when things come to a head, and that adrenaline, it's also what makes me get up every day and take away from my family, and how much time you has been away from the family throughout the career. It is the joy, indeed, also the adrenaline, that we get and everything is on point. You can be a hero tomorrow or a villain tomorrow. You won't find that anywhere else."

And Simon, congratulations on the record, which will now be yours, if you get on the field against San Marino. Thanks for the talk.

Peter Schmeichel: "Coming to the pitch? He starts inside.."

Many thanks to Randi for the English translation. And to Captainkjaer on Tumblr for contributing.

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