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Michael Laudrup

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Michael Laudrup (born 15 June 1964 in Frederiksberg) is a Danish former professional football player. He is now the manager of Russian club Spartak Moscow. His most prominent run of football came with Spanish club FC Barcelona, with whom he won four straight La Liga championships. He famously moved to arch rivals Real Madrid in 1994, with whom he won his fifth La Liga title in a row. He scored 37 goals in a total of 104 appearances for the Denmark national football team, which is only topped by Peter Schmeichel's 129 games and Thomas Helveg's 108 games. From November 1994, he captained his country for a total of 28 matches[1] before his retirement in June 1998.

In 1999 he was voted the Best Foreign Player in Spanish Football over the previous 25-year period[2] and in April 2000 he was knighted, as he received the Order of the Dannebrog. In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of Denmark by the Danish Football Association; their most outstanding player of the past 50 years.[3] He was officially named the best Danish footballer of all time by the Danish Football Association (DBU) in November 2006.[4]

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After ending his playing career, Laudrup took up coaching, and became assistant manager of the Danish national team. He got his first manager job at former club Brøndby in 2002, whom he guided to the 2005 Danish Superliga championship. He chose not to extend his contract with Brøndby in May 2006. In 2007 Brøndby decided to name a new lounge at the stadium "The Michael Laudrup Lounge", with Laudrup's approval. He subsequently took over as coach of Getafe, Madrid's third club, and continued his coaching career with notable success there. He brought the club comparative success in the Copa del Rey and UEFA Cup, and the team's attacking style brought plaudits.

Footballing family

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Michael Laudrup is part of a family with three generations of footballers. His uncle was former Brøndby and Aberdeen manager Ebbe Skovdahl. He is the son of former Danish national team player Finn Laudrup and Michael's oldest son Mads Laudrup has been the team captain of various Danish youth national teams since January 2005, and his youngest son Andreas Laudrup was selected a part of the under-16 national team in March 2006.[5]

Michael Laudrup has a younger brother, Brian Laudrup, who was also a professional football player. Brian Laudrup was a part of the trophy-winning Danish national team at the UEFA Euro 1992, but Michael did not play in that championship due to differences with the national team coach Richard Møller Nielsen.[6] In 2004, both the Laudrup brothers were named in the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living footballers chosen by Pelé as part of the celebration of FIFA's 100th anniversary.

Playing style

A play-making midfielder, Laudrup was known as one of the most effective passers, as well as one of the most skilful and elegant players of the game and is still popular amongst fans. Laudrup has been the most technically accomplished football player ever to emerge from the Nordic countries. He was ranked amongst the best players in Europe, and his talent was exceptional, with the French three time European footballer of the year award winner Michel Platini describing him as one of the most talented players ever, only lamenting his lack of selfishness causing him to score too few goals.[7] His team mate in Real Madrid, Raúl has in an interview in April 2006 called Laudrup the best player he has ever played with.[8] His team mate in Barcelona, Romário has stated the same and added that Laudrup in his opinion is the fifth best player in the history of the game as he was able to create and score goals almost at will (behind Pelé, Maradona, himself and Zinedine Zidane)[9]. Laudrup was known as a gentleman on the field and never received a red card. He preferred to outplay his immediate opponent rather than knock him down.

He was admired for his outstanding technique, elegance, deep passes and dribbling. Jorge Valdano, the Argentinean coach of Laudrup in Real Madrid, said "he has eyes everywhere". His trademark move — looking one way and passing the other — fooled countless opponents during his career. The Laudrup dribble was perhaps the best-known part of his game, as he quickly moved the ball from one foot to the other away from the defender. His outstanding skills were combined with an immense creativity. He always played the attack in the least obvious way, leaving the defense stranded. This has led to the expression "Made in Laudrup", widely used in Spain about his unique play. Numerous teammates of Laudrup have said: "Just run, he will always find a way of passing you the ball".

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In FC Barcelona he played alongside Hristo Stoichkov, who scored many goals from Laudrup's passes, like Iván Zamorano (who called Laudrup el genio, the genius) during Laudrup's time at Real Madrid. Zamorano was going through a hard spell in Madrid, but when Laudrup arrived to assist his goals, Zamorano immediately became pichichi - top scorer of the Spanish league, La Liga. An impressive 82% of his goals from the 1994-1995 season came from assists from Laudrup. Throughout his career his number of assists was impressive and almost always the highest of his team.

Michael Laudrup provided many examples of his skills with the Danish national team. However there were periods where he failed to deliver the performances he consistently delivered at club level, where he had world class players all around him for most of his career. With Denmark, he sometimes appeared frustrated when his passes were not utilized properly. In the last couple of years there was even a discussion about whether there was room for both of the Laudrups in the national team. Outstanding as they were and even with some difference in their playing styles, it was rare to see both of them playing a good game. In the end though, they both ended their careers with the national team on a high, with Michael captaining the side to the quarterfinals at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, where they crashed out after a thrilling 3-2 encounter with then-reigning world champions and later final participants, Brazil.


Born in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, Michael Laudrup started playing football in father Finn Laudrup's childhood club Vanløse. When Finn Laudrup became player/coach of small time club Brøndby IF in 1973, the family moved to Brøndby and both Michael and Brian Laudrup started playing for the club as well. Michael followed his father to the top-flight Danish 1st Division club Kjøbenhavns Boldklub (KB) in 1976, while Brian remained at Brøndby.

National breakthrough

He made his senior debut for KB in 1981, and made his debut for the Danish under-19 national team in February 1981.[10] In all, he scored a combined total of 14 goals in 25 games at various youth levels. He went back to play for Brøndby in 1982, where his father had ended his career in 1981, contributing to the promotion of Brøndby to the 1st Division.

At Brøndby, Michael Laudrup scored two goals in the club's 1st Division debut game, as fellow promoted team B 1909 were beaten 7-1. He was subsequently called up for the Danish national team, and on his 18-year birthday 15 June 1982 he became the then second youngest Danish national team player ever, following Harald Nielsen. Laudrup scored 15 league goals in 1982, and ended the season as the third top goal scorer of the 1st Division. His accomplishments earned him the 1982 Danish Player of the Year award. He played part of the 1983 season for Brøndby, and scored 9 goals, before he was sold to defending Serie A champions Juventus from Italy in June 1983. It was the then biggest transfer deal in Danish football, worth around $1 million.[11]

Italian years

Under restriction of a maximum of two foreign players in the team, of which the club had Polish midfielder Zbigniew Boniek and Michel Platini, Juventus initially loaned him out to newly-promoted Rome club Lazio for a single season. He scored two goals in his Serie A debut, even though Lazio lost 2-4 to Verona. In his first year at the club, Lazio narrowly avoided relegation, but as Juventus wanted to keep Boniek and Platini, Laudrup stayed a second year at Lazio. Despite playing for the relegation battlers, Laudrup starred for the Danish national team at the Euro 1984, playing all four Denmark matches. Lazio started the 1984-85 season badly, and they finished dead last and were relegated to Serie B, with Laudrup scoring just a single goal that season.

Laudrup returned to the Juventus side in 1985 to replace Zbigniew Boniek, playing alongside Michel Platini. In his first year at the club, he won the 1985-86 Serie A championship, as well as the Intercontinental Cup trophy, and Laudrup was once again named 1985 Danish Player of the Year. He took part in the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, a performance which is best remembered for his exceptional solo dribble and goal in the 6-1 defeat of Uruguay.

The following season was no success for Laudrup, who suffered from injuries, like large parts of the Juventus team, including Platini. When Platini retired in 1987, Laudrup was expected to lead the team in his place, playing alongside newly-bought Welsh forward Ian Rush. But the 23-year old failed to live up to Platini's standards, and did not score any goals, despite playing all 30 games of the 1987-88 season. He was also a part of the disappointing Danish national team at the UEFA Euro 1988 tournament, though Laudrup experienced personal success as he scored one of Denmark's two goals.

Barcelona and Real Madrid

In 1989, he joined FC Barcelona of Spain where he enjoyed tremendous success, with former Dutch national team captain Johan Cruijff the coach. Michael Laudrup was one of the restricted three foreign players allowed in the team, alongside Dutch defender Ronald Koeman and Bulgarian striker Hristo Stoichkov, who were the pillars of Barça coach Johan Cruijff's Dream Team. The team won four consecutive La Liga championships from 1991 to 1994, as well as the European Cup 1991–92, and Laudrup was twice elected the best player of the year in Spain during his Barcelona years. When Barça hired a fourth foreign star player, Brazilian striker Romário, in 1994 it meant the four foreigners would rotate as the three foreign players allowed in each match, and when Laudrup wasn't selected for the 1994 European Cup final 0-4 loss to Milan, his time at Barcelona was over.

In 1994 he completed a controversial move from Barça to Real Madrid after he fell out with Johan Cruijff. Laudrup went on to guide Real Madrid in a championship winning season that would end the Barça stranglehold, making Laudrup the only player ever to win the Spanish league five times in a row playing for two different clubs. After the initial success at Real, a lacklustre season would be in store for club, as well as country, and the Euro 1996 would leave no positives for him. Despite only playing two seasons at Real Madrid, Laudrup was voted the 12th best player in Real history in an internet survey by Spanish newspaper Marca when the club celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2002.[12]

While playing with Barcelona he participated in the 5-0 victory over rivals Real Madrid in the 1993/1994 Season. The following season while playing for Real Madrid he aided in the revenge beating that Madrid gave Barça, the final score also being 5-0.

He went on to play for Vissel Kobe in Japan, before he ended his playing career in a championship winning season at Dutch team Ajax in 1998. His last games would come at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, when he captained Denmark to the quarter-final, a tournament performance he crowned in the knock-out stage with a trademark assist. In the Round of 16 against Nigeria, when he looked to his left, then launched a magnificent lob to his right, over the defenders. The pass was picked up by Ebbe Sand, who headed it past defender Taribo West, and converted the chance for the 3-0 goal in the 4-1 win against Nigeria. Sand had come on the field as a substitute seconds earlier, and the goal set a record for fastest goal scored by a substitute at a World Cup.

Following his retirement, Laudrup turned to play for Lyngby's Old Boys team in his spare time.

Coaching career

After his playing career ended with Ajax, Laudrup became a coach at age 36 when he started serving as an assistant coach for the Danish national team coach Morten Olsen in 2000. The national team would play a 4-2-3-1 formation, depending on two fast wingers and with the aim to dominate games with a short-passing possession game. Together they led Denmark to the knock-out stage of 2002 FIFA World Cup, after which Michael Laudrup took the job as head coach for Brøndby IF in the Danish Superliga. As his assistant coach, Laudrup paired up with former Danish championship winning coach John "Faxe" Jensen, who had played alongside him in the Danish national team.

At the start of his reign, Laudrup proclaimed a tactical scheme close to that which Olsen and he had coached at the national team. Laudrup renovated the Brøndby team by letting a large contingent of older and experienced players go, in favour of several new offensive players, and he gave the chance to young talents from the club's youth scheme. To ensure the defensive strength of the team, he hired the proven national team player Morten Wieghorst. In his first year as head coach, he managed the team to a Danish Cup win against OB in the final. After finishing runners up twice, he finally led the team to The Double in 2005.

After finishing runners-up in the 2005-06 season, Michael Laudrup left Brøndby along with assistant coach John "Faxe" Jensen. He couldn't come to an agreement with Brøndby on renewing his contract, and therefore decided to leave the club. He was associated with several new jobs, including head coach of former club Real Madrid and rumours that he would replace Lars Lagerbäck as head coach for the Swedish national team.

On June 21, 2007 he was linked to a move to Madrid's La Liga team Getafe by sports newspaper Marca. This was confirmed on July 9, 2007. During his stay in Getafe the club reached the final in Copa del Rey, but lost to Valencia, and the quarter finals in the UEFA Cup (lost in extra time to Bayern Munich). During his tenure, as successor to current Real Madrid manager Bernd Schuster, he brought a new brand of exciting and free-flowing attacking football to the club which brought back memoires of Laudrup as a player. His team, which is not one of the established forces in Spanish football, also enjoyed comparative success. However, he performed only one season as manager, tendering his resignation in May 2008.[13]

Since he announced his departure from Getafe he has been linked with jobs at Valencia, Benfica, Chelsea, Blackburn Rovers, Panathinaikos, CSKA Moscow and West Ham. He almost got the job at Panathinaikos, but according to Danish media he wanted an option to allow him to leave, if he got an offer from a Spanish club. This could not be accepted by the Greeks, who chose Henk ten Cate instead. [14] On September 12, 2008 it was officially announced that Laudrup signed a 18-month contract with Spartak Moscow.

Quotes on Laudrup

  • Romário: "The best player I have ever played with and the 4th best in the history of the game together with Zidane[15]."
  • Raúl: "The best I have ever played with[16]."
  • Zamorano: "Un genio!", "The reason why I make so many goals, is Laudrup."[17]
  • Cruyff: "One of the most difficult players I have worked with. When he gives 80-90% he is still by far the best, but I want 100%, and he rarely does that."[18]
  • Cruyff(After Real Madrid with Laudrup had won 5-0 over Cruyff's Barcelona):"When Michael plays like a dream, a magic illusion, determined to show his new team his extreme abilities, noone in the world comes anywhere near his level."[19]
  • Maradona: "One of the greatest ever."
  • Platini: "One of the biggest talents ever. The best in the world on the training pitch, but never used his talent to its full during matches.[20]
  • Platini: "Michael had everything except for one thing: he wasn't selfish enough."[7]
  • Guardiola: "The best player in the world, I can't believe he hasn't won the title as best player."
  • Beckenbauer: "Pelé was the best in the 60's, Cruyff in the 70's, Maradona in the 80's and Laudrup in the 90's."[21]
  • Roberto Galia:"I have played against Maradona, Platini and Baggio. But the player I saw do the most indescribable things was Michael Laudrup"[22]
  • Clemente:"To me, Michael Laudrup is the most genius player the world has ever seen. He will always be my numero uno. Always."[23]
  • Bakero:"Noone has given the club [Barcelona] as much inspiration as Michael. We all look up to him. It is a privilige to have your day enriched by a genius."[24]


  • League championships
    • Serie A 1985-86 with Juventus
    • La Liga 1990-91, 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94 with Barcelona; 1994-95 with Real Madrid
    • Eredivisie 1997-98 with Ajax
  • Domestic cups
    • Spanish Cup 1990 with Barcelona
    • Spanish Super Cup 1991 and 1992 with Barcelona
    • Dutch Cup 1998 with Ajax
  • European cups
    • Intercontinental Cup 1985 with Juventus
    • European Cup 1992 with Barcelona
    • European Supercup 1992 with Barcelona
  • Individual awards
    • Danish Player of the Year 1982 and 1985
    • La Liga Player of the year 1992 and 1993
    • Best Foreign Player in Spanish Football the last 25 years (1974-1999)
    • Denmarks Best Player Ever (2006)
    • Confederations Cup Champions: 1995 with Denmark
  • Danish Super Cup: 2002 and 2005 with Brøndby
  • Danish Cup: 2002-03, 2004-05 with Brøndby
  • Danish Manager of the Year: 2003, 2005
  • Danish Superliga: 2004-05 with Brøndby

References and Notes

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Without a doubt the greatest Rangers player ever. I wish he had stayed on at Rangers, Legend

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