Jannik Vestergaard: 10 things on the Borussia Mönchengladbach and Denmark star
Jannik Vestergaard has quickly established himself as a lynchpin of the Borussia Mönchengladbach defence, but despite his great height, he has tasted lows on his way there.
1) On the brink before Brondby
bundesliga.com traces the great Dane's career, and dug a little deeper to find out what makes him tick…
Aged 18, Vestergaard's fledgling career was already facing its first test. His lanky frame convinced KB Kopenhagen that he was not cut out for a career as a professional football, and they appeared to have convinced the defender too as he joined Brondby. "I knew it was my last chance," he told Germany's Bild newspaper. "I was just sick of it all, but the new coach lifted me. He's called John Ranum and he's the person who's given me the most." In a game against his former club, Vestergaard proved his point not only to Kopenhagen, but also to onlooking scouts from Hoffenheim.
Watch: Meet Jannick Vestergaard in one of our Owo Meets interviews!
2) Big man, big appetite
They say that junk food is behind the rise in human growth in recent decades, but Vestergaard was not just reliant on the odd hamburger for his figure to stretch vertically. "I just love eating," he said. "Asian, German, Danish – I eat practically anything. I used to eat more than my friends when I was a kid and I was already bigger than everybody else." Fortunately for him, his metabolism appears to have an equally big appetite.
3) Big man, big fear
Coming in at 1.99m tall – that is over six and a half feet in pounds, shillings and pence – Jannik Vestergaard may be a fearsome prospect to many, but there is one thing the giant Dane towers over which need not have any fear. Step forward spiders, bugs and insects. "I hate them," he told the Bild newspaper. "My girlfriend's less afraid of them than I am, and I really have to be forced to remove them from the apartment."
Exercise plays a big part too, naturally, and Vestergaard excels in the areas of fitness and stamina. Just take a look at the 2017 calendar year for evidence: the Gladbach defender was the only outfield player in the whole of the Bundesliga to have played every single minute of his side's games. Not only was he never injured, he was never rested either. Talk about stamina…
5) Four legs are better than two
Another plausible reason for his high energy levels is his dog Brady, allegedly named after the New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, of which Vestergaard is a fan. The Eurasier is a lively breed, ensuring plenty of activity even when Jannik should be at home resting. The only drawback: Vestergaard's mum is allergic to dog hairs. "She has to have medication each time she comes to visit." Jannik has not mentioned whether it was his or his girlfriend Pernille's decision to add a dog to their family…
6) Eye for goal
Being so tall is advantageous at both ends of the field, when the high balls come flying into the penalty area. "We reckon Jannik's aerial ability's going to be something of a weapon for us from high balls and set pieces," said Gladbach's general manager Max Eberl when he signed Vestergaard from Werder Bremen in 2016. "We could benefit from that." No sooner said than done: Vestergaard became the Bundesliga's most prolific defender in 2017, with seven goals. Quite a weapon Gladbach got, then.
7) Build-up specialist
Vestergaard does not just defend and, as we have seen, score goals – he is also increasingly effective in building play from the back. Statistics from the first half of the 2017/18 season show that 85.5 per cent of Vestergaard's passes found their man – and they can be a mix of short and long passes, with his right or left foot. It was his vision and execution which sent Thorgan Hazard through against Bayern Munich, with the Belgian earning a penalty which he put away as the Foals got the better of Bayern.
Watch: Jannick Vestergaard's outstanding header against Mainz on Matchday 11!
8) Midfield musings
During his time at Hoffenheim, Vestergaard found himself playing in an uncustomary midfield role. While it is a period of his career he admits was a struggle, he says that it was overall a great way for him to mature and get to know himself better. "I'm glad I experienced this situation," he said. "I was in my early 20s, a thousand miles from my family and closest friends so it does get to you. But I learnt that it's important to give your honest opinion, even if it may have negative consequences. If I were to face such a situation again, I would behave in exactly the same way as I did."
9) Bremen boost
From disappointment in Sinsheim to joy in Bremen: Vestergaard says that his move to northern Germany was the best of his career. "I'll always be very grateful to Werder," he said. "They put faith in me at a time when interested clubs were hardly lining up for me." Vestergaard knew how big a club Bremen were "from playing football manager games on the computer" and he cherishes the opportunity he was given to experience the northern Germany club in real life. "Werder have a great tradition and many fans, and you could always see how important the club are for the city."
10) European football fanatic
When he joined Gladbach from Bremen in 2016, Vestergaard also had offers from English Premier League clubs. "It's just the overall package was right for me at Gladbach," he told Spox.com. He nevertheless is a fan of all of Europe's top leagues, and cannot pull himself away from the television each weekend. "I'm a fan of both [the Bundesliga and the Premier League], but I also like watching the Spanish Liga or top games from Italy's Serie A," he said.
Watch: Vestergaard admits scoring against Bremen hurt
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