An interview with Mikkel Beck, by Callum McFadden for Wireless.
You started your career in your native Denmark at Boldklubben 1909 before switching to German football with SC Fortuna Köln. How were the first years of your career?
“I loved football in Denmark, but moving to Germany was a good opportunity for me.
“The first six months are always the hardest when moving to a new country in my experience because you miss what you had. It takes time to settle into a new culture and make new friends. friends.
“My three years in Germany were crucial for me because I learned a lot from my time at Fortuna Köln. I used a lot of what I learned from my time there throughout my career.
While playing for Cologne, you were called up to the Denmark U21 squad. Your ratio at this level was one goal every three games. It’s quite impressive, isn’t it?
“Yes, it went well and everything happened so fast.
“I left home to move to Germany and started every week for my club. I scored goals and got called up. The Danish set-up was always hounding me.
“It was a natural progression for me to represent the national team. I enjoyed playing for the under-21s and always intended to play for the full national team.
“I was called up to the senior team shortly after playing for the Under-21s due to a Michael Laudrup injury. From there I never looked back!
You continued your success domestically by winning Danish Sportsman of the Year in 1995 and playing at Euro 96 for Denmark. What’s it like to experience a major tournament at a young age?
“It was a fantastic experience to be part of the European Championship. I always dreamed of playing it like many young children do, so it meant a lot to me and my family.
“Euro 96 was a really good tournament as football was coming back to England. It’s important in any tournament that the host country does well to make sure there’s a positive atmosphere in whatever country you’re in. find.
“England performed well in the tournament and you could feel the whole country was behind them. I loved playing my role there for Denmark because you could tell how much it means to the players, coaches and the fans.
After the European Championship, you switched to English football with Middlesbrough in the Premier League. Was it always one of your ambitions to play in English football?
“As a Dane, I always followed English football and it was one of the leagues I wanted to play in, if it was possible. I would say it was a dream to play in England.
“I didn’t hesitate when I had the chance.”
You worked with Bryan Robson at Boro. He is one of the most famous English footballers of all time. How was it to work with as a coach?
“Bryan was a good manager for the team. He helped me settle in quickly and built a fantastic team with Fabrizio Ravenelli, Juninho, Emerson, Gianluca Festa and myself among others.
“He was able to motivate and convince top players like that to join him at Middlesbrough, such was his position in the game.
“He made Middlesbrough a place players wanted to play even though it wasn’t a club many of us knew well before joining.
“It was an interesting time at the club and Bryan played attractive football for us. I wouldn’t imagine my career without that time.
You reached the League Cup final and the FA Cup final in 1997, against Leicester and Chelsea respectively. How do you reflect on these cup races and the finals themselves?
“Reaching both major cup finals in England with Middlesbrough was an incredible achievement. They didn’t go the way we would have liked, but getting to both was special.
“I remember how crazy the season was because in the cups we were stealing and came to Wembley twice while being relegated to the league. The ups and downs of this season were crazy.
“It was unfortunate for us as players and for the fans at the end of the season, but we supported each other to bounce back, which we did.
“An immediate return to the Premier League is assured by winning promotion from the former Premier League. You have played with two icons of English football in Paul Gascoigne and Paul Merson during this season.
What was it like sharing a locker room with these two players?
“They were different. Both were incredibly famous players but Gascoigne was at the end of his career while Paul Merson was still in his peak years.
“Paul Merson was amazing. He ended up being selected for England’s World Cup squad despite playing in the Championship. It shows you how good he was.
“I enjoyed playing with Paul Merson as a striker. He taught me a lot and it was a joy to share the pitch with him.
“It was also great to get to know Gascoigne as a person because he could still show his quality in previews. He wasn’t at his peak so I didn’t see the best of him but it was a fantastic guy. I’m also lucky to have played with him.”
As well as Middlesbrough, you have also played English football for Derby County, Nottingham Forest and QPR. How were these clubs compared to Middlesbrough?
“Nottingham Forest was just on a month loan. I really liked the club and the people even though it was only a short time. David Platt was the manager and I enjoyed working with him.
“Derby was not so good for me. I joined the club at the wrong time. I shouldn’t have signed up because Steve McClaren had just left as a manager to work with Manchester United.
“The club was a good club but it didn’t work well for the team when Steve left. I was part of it but it didn’t work for me. That’s why I joined Forest and QPR loan.
“Life at QPR was good. I stayed there for a few months and played in an exciting team.
“I’ve enjoyed most of my clubs throughout my career except Derby. I just couldn’t settle there.
From England to France, you joined Lille in 2000. How was life in France for you?
“When I joined Lille, they had just been promoted to Ligue 1. It was a small club at the time.
“I felt French football was the new challenge I needed. It was different from English football. More tactical in my opinion.
“It was a good experience and it’s great to see that Lille have progressed to become a great club in French football. I enjoyed my time there and have stayed in touch with many of my team-mates to this day. .
You ended your career in Denmark in Aalborg. You scored a lot of goals to end your football career. Have you always wanted to go home to play again?
“It wasn’t in my career plan to be honest. It happened quickly.
“I was loaned out by Derby and it was a great place to rediscover my love of the game, especially ahead of Euro 2000.
“I performed well in front of the national team coach and earned my place for the Euro 2000 squad.
“I only have fond memories of Aalborg.”
Last but not least, who would you say were your most talented teammates and toughest opponents?
“The most talented teammates in my playing days would have to be the Laudrup brothers, Peter Schmeichel, Juninho, Fabrizio Ravenelli and Paul Merson. All fantastic footballers with real quality.
“My trickiest opponent was Marcel Desailly because he was so good at everything. He had no weakness in his game.
“I loved my playing days and talking to you brought back so many memories. I would love to play again today but I’m still involved in the game as an agent.
“This new role is the second best thing for me because I watch a lot of football and work with a lot of fantastic players and help them professionally and personally.”