A general method of measuring how good a footballer is to people who aren’t big fans of the sport is a simple eye test. Do they look like they’re talented?
It’s sometimes been rebranded and rehashed as ‘the alien test’ – would x player impress an other worldly being? Would they fear them if they had to face them in a Space Jam-like standoff?
Mikkel Damsgaard is a player who has obvious quality. The Sampdoria man has a jink and a twist and a turn that most flair players possess, a reading of the game that at the very least earned him a start for Denmark in their crucial Euro 2020 match against Russia on Monday evening.
If you asked a casual fan (or an alien) to identify the one man on the pitch who plays for Barcelona, they probably wouldn’t have singled out Martin Braithwaite, but almost definitely would have been drawn to Damsgaard. He plays with grace and finesse, every touch of the ball a caress rather than a punt, compared to the more rugged game honed by Barça’s actual number nine.
That’s not to take away from Braithwaite what an accomplished professional he is – he was among Denmark’s best players once again – but Damsgaard gave Denmark a moment for the country to remember forever, opening the scoring with a looping effort from range not too dissimilar to that of strikes from compatriot Christian Eriksen.
Denmark’s whole tournament lost nearly all significance following the events of their first game, but their squad has reacted admirably. They came flying out of the traps against a strong Belgium team, and put Russia to the sword to salvage any hopes of qualifying for the last 16.
Damsgaard – again, just 20 – has been Eriksen’s direct replacement, but he looks and plays like a seasoned pro, a touch of the Inter midfielder’s game seeping through. He hardly seemed daunted taking such responsibility in a must-win game for Denmark, drifting deep and between lines in order to make his slight physical presence felt.
Denmark eventually strolled to a 4-1 win, shutting Russia down and pressing them off the park. Damsgaard played a huge role in that, kicking off proceedings on a famous night in Danish footballing history.
How about that to kickstart your legacy?