This is my translation of an article that was originally done by Euroman (@EUROMANdk). Credit to Katja for the translation.
I have only translated the Liverpool relevant parts, but the entire interview is good, so if you don’t mind using google translate I can only recommend it. I have tried doing the translation to the best of my abilities, but sorry if there are any mistakes.
Link to original article is here.
When Daniel Agger and Liverpool found each other, it all began so well. He was the resilient newcomer in a Brøndby team that won both the Danish championship and the cup tournament in the 2004-05 season with Michael Laudrup and John ‘Faxe’ Jensen at the healm. He was 20 years old, and that summer he was given his debut on Morten Olsens national team. He might have been put back 6 months because of a knee injury, but one big European club after another still wanted him.
“It all happened very quickly. Until the spring of 2004 I didn’t know what I wanted in life. I went to business school in Ishøj, and I knew I wanted to finish my education. Ending up at Brøndbys first team wasn’t even in my thoughts.” Daniel Agger tells.
In January 2006 the call came. Daniel Agger had been on a trip with his old primary school class between Christmas and New Years, and every morning he had been able to pick up the newspapers at the bakery and read about the clubs that wanted him.
After the class trip, he went on a holiday with his family to Gran Canaria, and here he could also buy Danish newspapers. Speculation continued. He recalls that Juventus was more than just a rumour in the sports pages. But the manager, who showed the most interest, came from the club, who in the past 6 months had ranked as his own favourite destination.
“Rafael Benitez called me. He said that I should come to Liverpool because he needed me. Not much else. Of course, it was important for me to know, but the most important part was that he called. I have since seen many players get sold from a club without them ever meeting or hearing from the manager of the buying club. They do not know if he is the one who has bought them, or if they are a pawn in a bigger game”.
Agger made his decision the next day, and on the 12th of January, he signed a four and a half year contract. The calm, ball secure central defender, now 21 years, was not joining the military as he had thought.
He was going to be part of a team that were the defending Champions League champions and had players like Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Pepe Reina, Xabi Alonso, Sami Hyypiä, Dietmar Hamann and Robbie Fowler. Skilled, talented players and big personalities, he says.
“I can say as much as there was not one of those who would give up easily. Everyone had an opinion. There was loud discussions in the dressing room. This was my kind of scene, and when we overcame those things, we were closer. There was a strong winning mentality.”
The discussions could, according to Agger, be about a crisis that had to be dealt with at halftime or after a game. At times it resulted in actual fighting (as in a fist fight I guess, red.), and the Spanish manager was not protected when the details from a game (as in a game of football, red.) were looked at.
“This did not mean that we didn’t respect him, because we certainly did, but the culture was one, that if there was something you didn’t agree with, you said so. I have never been the most vocal guy, but I have always said my opinion”
“There was been no beating around the bush, no bullshit, and I know that many of the older players respected me from the start because I was always direct” Agger tells, before he, with a growing smile, adds: “It was a damn good time.”
In the 2008-09 season, the team had been strengthened with the superstars Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano, and was in pole position to win the Premier League, but although the team lost momentum at the end and finished second, one thing was clear: Daniel Agger was at the top of European club football.
Daniel Agger liked the little northern Irishman (Rodgers, red.). Liverpool and Rafael Benitez had ended their partnership after a disappointing 7th place finish in 09/10.
And after a decidedly bad experience with the later England boss Roy Hodgson, and a transitional solution with club phenomenon Kenny Dalglish, Brendan Rodgers was presented as the new manager before the 2012-13 season. Rodgers from Carnlough in Northern Ireland came with a lot of energy, a lot of good mood. He was one you could talk to, and his door was always open, as he (Rodgers, red.) said. The workouts were funnier now.
“One example is, that he occasionally dropped the planned exercises, and played a mini World Cup instead: England versus the rest of Europe etc. Of course it was extra fun because my team always won, but the main thing is that the mood was better with him”
Daniel Agger and his Danish wife Sophie now had two boys, Jamie and Mason, they lived a quiet family life at Aigburth, south of Liverpool, on the east bank of the Mersey and close to Liverpool Cricket Club. His wife studied at the city’s university, and the idea that Daniel Agger was to end his career at Liverpool FC, fell more and more in place. Therefore, he also turned down requests from other clubs.
Also in the summer of 2013 as FC Barcelona came calling. For the Spanish club, who rarely experience rejections were among the suitors, Agger confirms. But he had a chat with Brendan Rodgers, and the manager convinced the Dane that he should stay. He wanted to build a team around club captain Steven Gerrard and Agger, who was appointed vice-captain that summer.
“But from that day it went wrong, and my problem is that I cannot say why, “summarizes Agger. The Dane’s interpretation of the process, from the time he was appointed vice-captain in the summer of 2013, until the spring of 2014 when he decided that he would leave Liverpool, looks like this: He played on a winning team, attackers Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge scored and scored, Liverpool was an aspiring champion for the first time since 2008-09.
Agger felt in good shape, and that he had something to contribute, but he also felt that Rodgers took advantage of every little opportunity to put him out of the team. Still early in the season the Dane knocked on the manager’s office door at Melwood. Maybe they had talked past each other over the summer? Perhaps the manager didn’t have such big plans for him when all was said and done?
Liverpool’s training facility in West Derby northeast of the city center is in the European top, after the then manager Gerard Houllier had been behind the modernization in the early 00s. The Manager’s Office is located on the first floor above the locker rooms and with a panoramavue over the training courses. The wall had posters of club legends on it, there was a desk and a sofa group environment. Brendan Rodgers opened, and he assured Agger that the Dane was still a key player on the team. Smiles and handshakes.
In the everyday life the communication with the manager remained at zero, but Daniel Agger made up his mind that he would forge ahead. The Dane started the game at home to Swansea on the 23rd of February 2014 and also got the start in the following five Premier League games. There was hope. Liverpool won all of the matches. During training before the seventh game on April 6th against West Ham, Daniel Agger got injured.
“My knee swelled up, and I had 120 mililiters of blood sucked out of it. The doctor and the physio told me that under no circumstances should I play the match against West Ham, and I said I would play, because I would not give the manager the opportunity to not play me in the big game against Manchester City the following week. The agreement was that the doctor and physio gave the manager the message, and the message back was that I should rest against West Ham, so I was completely ready for the City battle. “
The day after the match against West Ham, Agger was training again, but when the team was selected for the top clash against Manchester City, he was not in it. It was Palm Sunday. Daniel Agger was at Hope Street Hotel with his teammates before the home game, and now he was sure that he would leave the club.
“That day, there was no turning back. I had to get away, or I would explode. I found myself in the red zone. But understand me right: I’m not whining. I do not need a manager that pats me on the back all the time. On the contrary, I would rather have one that yells at me, so I have something to deal with, and then I will prove that he is not right. So it was not that,” Agger explains.
“It was more the fact that he had made me vice-captain, something that has always been a big thing in Liverpool, a special thing and I was where I wanted to be. We had to build a team around me. But then, from one day to the other communication stopped”
Daniel Agger kept his decision to himself, because he did not want to wreak havoc for the club, who still had a chance to win the championship. He did not play again until the final game of the season, which was a home game against Newcastle in May, when the chance of winning the league was already gone.
He scored in the 2-1 victory at The Kop end, where the club’s dedicated fans are greated. He knew that it was his last great moment in the Liverpool jersey.
It is considered by most who are present in the south German hotel (where Brøndby was at the time this part of the interview was made, red.) to be a miracle that Brøndby managed to get Daniel Agger when he was still only 29. He had a contract with Liverpool until 2016, and the English club did not believe the Dane’s announcement that, under no circumstance, would he continue with the club.
Finally, they understood the message. Brøndby’s chairman, Jan Bech Andersen, and Agger arranged the formalities, and on August 30th, 2014, Daniel Munthe Agger from Northern Hvidovre became a Brøndby player again after signing a two-year agreement. He was pleased to return home, and he looked forward to being part of the reconstruction at Brøndby.
Today he describes the process this way: “At first we had to find out if Liverpool would even let me go. It was not that we just snapped our fingers, and then it was sorted. But where there is a will there is way. I was lucky that I’ve been in Liverpool for so many years so they knew me well. They knew that when I said something, I meant it.”
And why it was Brøndby and not a club in Spain or perhaps in France?:
“Spain was an option, but I like that things just work, that things are planned, and if I had to move my family to southern Europe for 2-3 years and then go back to Denmark, it would not work for me. I would like to, once again, have a long stretch with a club, like I had in Liverpool. “
We are back in Brøndby on the first day of training after the Christmas holidays. […] The rain is sustained, not heavy. Daniel Agger turns right onto Park Allé and talks about the final showdown with Liverpool.
He had been on summer vacation with his family, but when he started training again, he once again knocked on Rodgers’ door at Melwood: “I just went in and said, ‘Listen, I do not believe that you have treated me properly.’
How did he take it?
“Well, he didn’t understand it, that was not how he saw it, and that was fair enough. But he accepted it and seemed interested. He then returned and said he wanted to keep me, and that he needed me for the next year. It was the first time we communicated properly in a year’s time. “
“We had a damn good dialogue, but I did not really know if he was just acting. I felt that those words were a bit empty compared to what had happened the season before, so I didn’t bite. And eventually I managed to convince them (that he wanted to leave, red.) “
If you have to summarize your entire time at Liverpool, have you fulfilled your potential?
“Argh … I’m such an annoying type that constantly feel that I could do better. I never played a perfect match, there is always something that annoys me. But I’ve got some great experiences and played in some great matches, fierce fighting, which not many footballers come close to experiencing. So in that way, yes. ” [..] “What annoys me the most is that I didn’t know my body better.”
What do you mean?
“I played, although I was struggling with minor injuries. I played, when I shouldn’t, and in the long term it cost me many matches”
Did you feel pressured to do so?
“No, only by myself. Never by others. I didn’t want to take another break”
Did you do it too often?
“I did this too often, yes.” Daniel Agger sits slightly without saying anything. We pass Motorring 3. “I was told recently that in the 10 years that I’ve been a professional footballer, I have played about 350 matches. It’s damn many matches. “
“And the bulk of them are in the Premier League. But I should have played 100 or 200 matches more at Liverpool. At one point I started counting: ‘Oh no, now I have missed 35 games.’ Now I have learned how to get the most of the matches I play. Really enjoy it when I go on the field, really enjoy it when I put on the national team jersey. But it has taken a long time to get there. “
He mentions himself that his body probably isn’t suited to football. [..]
“I am very flexible, hyper mobile, muscle overstretches easily. In football it is better to be a little more dense/tight (a bit hard to translate, red), of average height, a little stiff, so you get less injuries. “
Could it be that Brendan Rodgers got tired of your injuries?
“Maybe, but could he not just say that? Was that why? Fair enough. Was I not good enough? Fair enough. If he did not have plans for me, fair enough. But then we could have moved to one of the clubs who wanted me a couple of years ago, and get that long period at a new club, before our oldest had to start school. “
Does he have other theories about why Brendan Rodgers never said anything? Was his door not as open as he expressed? Was it other people at the club, who made Agger vice-captain? No, it does not make sense. And so we are back at what Daniel Agger under no circumstances want to appear as “a whiner in your magazine.”
At Christmas, he was back at Liverpool with his brother to fix a couple of practical matters, and since the visit coincided with a home game against Swansea, he pulled his cap down over his ears and watched the game from his friend and right-back Glen Johnson’s VIP box at Anfield . He greeted a few of the old players, but otherwise he kept a low profile.
“It was great to be back. I’ve had a good time over there. No matter what happened at the end. But I have had the kind of incidents with other coachs before. I also had them with Roy Hodgson. We didn’t work well together either. That time it was me who stayed, and I was happy it turned out like that. But regardless of the showdown, I have had a really good time in Liverpool. My family has had a really good time. “
Were you still happy with the decision (to leave Liverpool, red), after you had been there?
“I was resolved/clarified/happy, but I also had the feeling that I missed it a little. But as I talked to my wife about: It is only natural to feel like that after having spent so many years in the same place. The reason why I was there for so long, was that Liverpool is one of the world’s biggest clubs. One thing is football, where we have not always been at the top of Europe, but the culture, the club, the traditions, the stadium, when it comes to all of those things Liverpool are among the best in the world, ” Agger replies.
“I have always thought that there are many footballers who change clubs each time something happens. Every time there is something that affects and bothers them, they move to a new club. I also believe that there are many of those who think back on their Liverpool-time and say, ‘Why didn’t I stay?’ They only figure out how good they had it, when they have moved on. The grass is not always greener on the other side. And when it comes to Liverpool there are not many places where the grass is greener on the other side.”
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