Tuesday 21 June 2016, 13:45

Danish prospect shaped by Brazilian roots

A person's name can reveal so much about their origins. Take, for example, Emiliano Marcondes Camargo Hansen, whose multicultural moniker is shot through with hints of South America and northern Europe – and not without reason. Born to a Danish father and Brazilian mother in 1995, the Nordsjælland midfielder and Danish youth prospect not only grew up with diverse roots but has long felt their influence on his life, particularly given his strong emotional bond with Brazil.

"I was born and grew up in Hvidovre, near Copenhagen, with my brother, father and mothers," he told FIFA.com. "My parents separated when I was nine and I continued living with my father. My mother had to leave Denmark to go to home to Sao Paolo because the cost of living was too much for her. That's when I sought refuge in football. I missed my mother and playing football was the only thing that filled that void, so I played a lot. That's undoubtedly why I'm here today."

Not to underplay all his hard work, but talent and a passion for the game clearly played a role too. Like every self-respecting Brazilian, the midfield schemer has football in his blood – and a head filled with the exploits of stars such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Kaka. "Those Brazilian players were my heroes as a child, even more so than Michael Laudrup, whose talent I obviously respect a lot. Overall, I always found the Brazilian way of playing more attractive. It was always beautiful to watch and effective. Their 2002 World Cup win is one of my fondest memories from childhood."

That tournament certainly seems to have left its mark. Chief orchestrator of Denmark's Olympic team, the 21-year-old now brings a touch of 'Jogo Bonito' to a side generally renowned for its physical qualities and combativeness. "I love spectacle and emotion in sport," he said. "With all due respect to Danish players, I think Brazilians contribute more of that in their way of playing and dribbling. I genuinely think I have that Brazilian side to me. And Brazil has a place in my life outside football too: my apartment is filled with homages to the country – from the flag in my living room to the cups in my kitchen and the drums in my bedroom. Plus I really love Brazilian cuisine."

Just as well, as Emiliano is set to spend several weeks across the Atlantic at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament in Rio de Janeiro. Denmark secured their place by reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship last year, and the team's No19 would not miss the trip for the world. "Taking part in this competition is obviously one of my greatest dreams," he said. "To play in Brazil, in front of my family, would just be absolutely exceptional."

From Marcondes Camargo Hansen to Emiliano Not only will the Denmark midfielder be playing in Brazil, he will also be playing against Brazil – when the two sides lock horns in Salvador on 10 August. Naturally, the youngster has that date circled in his diary, and it promises to be the key encounter in a Group A also featuring South Africa and Iraq. "We can have our say," he promised, before sending the hosts a warning. "Our team is full of quality, and we have talent in every position. We're a group of clever players who know each other and understand each other perfectly."

That confidence is not mere bravado. After all, Denmark traveled to Korea Republic for a friendly tournament in early June as part of their Olympic preparations, along with the hosts, Honduras and Nigeria – all fellow qualifiers for Rio 2016. Niels Frederiksen's charges promptly came out on top thanks to a 6-2 defeat of Nigeria, a 4-3 win against Honduras and a 1-1 draw with the South Koreans. "It was an enriching experience," recalled Marcondes Camargo Hansen. "It's always good to get a win in this kind of tournament, even if we conceded stupid goals and weren't quite perfect." Judging by his trajectory so far, he is now on course to make a real name for himself – and one that football fans everywhere ought to remember. Or possibly not quite yet. "Starting from next season, I'll only have 'Emiliano' on the back of my shirt," he explained, having opted to drop his family name from the equation.