Friday 29 September 2017, 08:25

Nielsen: I was living a dream

  • Nielsen guided Denmark to this year’s UEFA Women’s EURO final

** The 45-year-old resigned as national team coach at the end of August 

** "My dream is just to walk around with a smile on my face every day"

History teaches us that some things cannot be predicted and that life is always full of surprises – and women’s football is no different. When Denmark faced Germany in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women’s EURO, the two-time world champions from the land of poets and thinkers were considered such clear favourites that the result seemed inevitable to many onlookers. Yet the team celebrating at the final whistle were the Danes, who ultimately progressed all the way to the final.

"We had some bad luck with injuries just before the EUROs and during the tournament," explained Nils Nielsen in an interview with "What my team was very good at, and what I was very proud of, is the way they handled these problems. I was very happy with their performance, especially against Germany in the quarter-final.

"The players actually believed they could win, and that’s something we worked quite a lot on. I was very happy that it was my team beating Germany – we made history,” he continued, before adding with a smile, “This summer I was living my dream. The only thing that could have made it better was to actually win the final. We didn’t, but it was still a good dream."

That dream went to extra time when Nielsen was named among the three finalists for The Best FIFA Women's Coach 2017. "It’s certainly not something I expected, but these kinds of surprises are always nice,” the Greenland-born coach said cheerfully. "I’m really looking forward to the Awards Show. I never thought I would go to something like that, as you have to be invited or be one of the organisers. As I’ll never be one of the organisers, the only way I could ever see the show would be by being nominated – so I’m quite happy about that."

It is no surprise to hear Nielsen talk about wanting to enjoy every moment of the experience. The same can surely be said of the other finalists in the FIFA Women's Coach category – and the former Brondby coach was full of praise for his fellow nominees.

Nielsen on Sarina Wiegman* *"I’ve met the Netherlands coach a few times, not just when we played against each other. I like her; she is a really good coach and is doing a good job for women’s football. She handled being the hosts of the EUROS very well. I have the highest respect for her as a coach and a person."

Nielsen on Gerard Precheur *"I don’t actually know him personally. I can only see the great results he has had with his team over the years. I definitely have a great deal of respect for what he has done."*

While Nielsen can also look back on a remarkable period of success with Denmark’s women’s national side, he decided in August to step down from the head coach position he had held since 2013.

"I don’t know what’s next for me. When I find a project that can make me feel the same way as this did, then I’ll be all over it. I would definitely give it my all, just as I did with this team. It was time for me to move on, just as it was time for the girls to get a new coach that could give them some new inspiration."