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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Long way from home: Kristensen makes the jump

Freshman midfielder Anders Kristensen has appeared in eight games for the Badgers this season, scoring his first collegiate goal three weeks ago against IUPUI.[/media-credit]

While most freshmen experience a tough time adjusting to college classes and living on their own when they arrive on UW’s campus in August, freshman midfielder Anders Kristensen had to adjust to a new country.

Kristensen, who grew up in Silkeborg, Denmark, has been playing competitive soccer since he was 4 years old.

Unlike in the U.S., where soccer players generally don’t start dealing with recruits until high school, in Denmark soccer is king. And so, at a young age, Kristensen was plugged into the Silkeborg IF youth program to begin his development in the sport.


Little did he know it would become a huge part of his life.

In Europe, soccer clubs are much more involved with players from a young age. As a result, Kristensen played for Silkeborg IF from age 4 to age 20.

As he grew and developed as a player, so too did his competition. By the time he was at the U17 and U19 levels of competition, Kristensen was playing in a national league against the top 15 youth teams in the entire country, not to mention some of Denmark’s top soccer prospects – including players like Christian Eriksen, who at the age of 18 was the youngest player to play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“I’ve played against a lot of players who play in Europe right now,” Kristensen said. “For example, Christian Eriksen and Viktor Fischer, another great Danish player, so some of the guys I’ve played against sold for huge [transfer] fees.

“It’s kind of fun to look back at it and see the great players you have played against.”

At the age of 20, Kristensen was faced with a tough decision. In Denmark, he could either continue to try to pave a soccer career for himself or attend school, but he couldn’t do both.

So Kristensen looked to America.

After assistant coach Keith Tiemeyer identified Kristensen as a potential recruit, and a series of scouting trips to Europe by members of the coaching staff – one of which included head coach John Trask going to visit Kristensen personally – the coaching staff was sold.

“[We] walked away favorably impressed with him, not just as a soccer player, but as a young man,” Trask said. “We thought he could be a student-athlete that would succeed at the University of Wisconsin.”

Playing for UW hasn’t come without its challenges, as Kristensen has had to adjust to a much more physical style of soccer in America.

“The game is much more physical over her,” Kristensen said. “I think it is because you have more substitutions. It makes the game much faster to have more substitutes, but I think it is also less technical.”

Still, as Kristensen adapts to a new soccer team in a new country, the 5-foot-9 midfielder has already begun to make an impact in his first year with the team.

So far this season, he has played in eight of the team’s 11 games, starting two of them. In the absence of junior midfielder Tomislav Zadro, Kristensen has been looked to for an offensive spark whenever he goes into the game. Kristensen has also already begun to show glimpses of the talent he offers, recording 14 shots on goal and one goal.

On top of the changes on the soccer field, Kristensen has also done a lot of learning off the field as well.

“I’ve enjoyed it so far,” Kristensen said. “The school is kind of tough; you have to read a lot in English, which I am not used to. The guys over here have been great though, helping me out.”

Since his arrival, Kristensen’s teammates have taken him under their wing as he makes the transition to a new country. But, as is often the case when someone travels to a foreign country – even for someone like Kristensen who knows the language – the move from Denmark hasn’t come without its awkward moments, something his teammates are more than happy to jokingly remind him.

“The other day we were going to get dinner and when you don’t have money normally you ask your buddy to spot you,” fellow freshman midfielder Drew Conner said. “He asked, ‘Hey, can I owe you money,’ which just sounded funny to me.

“So he just says little things like that. We have to teach him certain words or certain slang to help him adjust.”

More importantly for the Badgers, though, as Kristensen gets more comfortable and familiar with the system Trask has in place at UW, the Badgers have the potential to be a very dangerous team down the road.

A part of a strong 2012 freshman class, Kristensen is one of four freshmen – also including Chase Rau, Adam Lauko and Drew Conner – to get a good amount of playing time midway through his first season.

“This coaching staff is continuing to bring in quality players from all over the country and overseas,” Conner said. “We are just getting more and more talent here.”

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