Ahead of Denmark’s international friendly against Turkey on Wednesday evening, the country’s media is awash with speculation over whether Denmark’s brightest talent since Christian Eriksen could be handed his debut. Should Viktor Fischer play a part in Turkey, it will complete one of the most mesmeric comet-like rises to football stardom this century. And all in the matter of a week.
While Fischer, who can play as an attacking midfielder or a forward, has been on the radar of the national team for years now, it is only in the last seven days that he has taken the game by storm.
First came his substitute appearance against Manchester City in the Champions League last week. It was an impressive baptism, and Fischer came extremely close to scoring a winner for Ajax, but his shot didn’t match his mazy run and ended up in the side-netting.
Following that, at the weekend, he was handed his first league start for Ajax, in which he duly scored twice and set up a third in a 4-2 win over Zwolle, netting the young Dane ‘player of the week’ accolades from the Dutch league and media.
And then just days later, Fischer received that phone call that many young boys dream of from Denmark national team coach Morten Olsen, informing him that he was included in Denmark’s first team squad for this week’s friendly against Turkey.
”It was a great moment. Frank de Boer [Ajax coach] told me to just do what I usually do, so I did. I am very pleased,” Fischer told NU Sport. “I have been working hard in the matches, in training and in the weights room. It’s going well for me now, and luckily I am able to show my stuff in the first team now. But it’s important that I show it in the other games. This is just the beginning.”
Fischer is on the brink of signing a new four-year contract, despite reported interest from top clubs like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and AC Milan.
Fischer, who is 18 years and five months old and who was due to play for Denmark’s under-20 team before Olsen intervened, could become the seventh youngest player to debut for the full national side in history. Harald Nielsen was the youngest, debuting at the ripe old age of 17 years and 322 days back in 1959, followed by Michael Laudrup, who’s first game in red and white was on his 18th birthday in 1982.
If Fischer repeats the form he showed for the Danish youth sides, then fans are in for a treat. He scored 20 goals in 30 appearances for the under-17 side that reached the European and world finals in 2011, before moving up a level and scoring five goals in six games for the under 19s.
“It’s an investment in the future. The injury situation has made it possible to include Viktor in the first team,” Denmark coach Morten Olsen said according to DBU’s website. “He is an exciting player who is really developing and who is in fantastic form at the moment. Just look at what he did at the weekend.”
And Fischer’s rise is no coincidence; in fact, one could argue that success is in his genes. His grandfather, Poul Pedersen, was the first player to play 50 games for Denmark and was part of the Danish squad that won a silver medal at the Olympics in Rome in 1960.
Olsen also passed a milestone with the call-up, completing a triple-century of sorts. Having played over 100 games for Denmark himself, he has also coached over 100 games for Denmark and now also handed 100 players their debuts during his stint as coach.
And there have been clear indications in recent years that Olsen is willing to take chances on younger players. Christian Eriksen was the youngest player at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and Denmark had the third youngest squad at Euro 2012 this summer.
On top of that, a number of youngsters have been handed their debuts in the last year, including the likes of Andreas Bjelland, Jores Okore, Andreas Cornelius, Nicklas Helenius, Nicolai Jørgensen and Jacob Juelsgård.
There are currently six Danes playing for Ajax − something that could indicate a strong Danish national team in future. With the exception of Christian Poulsen, the cluster of Danes at Ajax is reminiscent of the group that played for the Dutch club in the 1980s. It included Søren Lerby, Frank Arnesen, Jan Mølby and Jesper Olsen, and their time at Ajax coincided with the great Danish Dynamite team of that era, something that author and journalist Joakim Jakobsen draws a parallel to.
“When we have a core of Danish players at Ajax, then things go well for the national team. The pattern began in the 1980s when the Danish team that developed into one of the best in the world consisted of players that played together, or had played together, at Ajax,” Jakobsen told Sporten.dk “The same occurred in 1998 when we achieved our best ever result at a World Cup with another Ajax-influenced team, this time consisting of the Laudrup brothers and Ole Tobiasen, with Morten Olsen as coach.”
And Fischer is unlikely to be the last youngster who Olsen baptises this season. Another 18 year-old, midfielder Lucas Andersen, who amazingly was also snapped up by Ajax recently, was only 17 when he became the youngest player ever to play for the Danish league-based national team in January. Andersen is in the youth team, but he has already trained with the first team and is expected to be handed his Ajax debut within a year.
And another young player making waves is Hoffenheim’s 20-year-old defender Jannick Vestergaard. A stalwart for the under-21s, the towering, 1.98-metre Vestergaard has already played over 20 Bundesliga games, scoring twice. And should he continue he can imminently expect a phone call from Olsen in the near future, despite Denmark being loaded with talent at his position with Jores Okore and Andreas Bjelland breaking through this year.