How the Danish club FC Midtjylland took inspiration from the Canaries to launch its training center


The neo-Lyonnais Joachim Andersen, here during a meeting with the U17 FC Midtjylland (Denmark), is one of the promising players trained in the best Danish Academy. – FC Midtjylland

  • In 2003, the Danish club FC Midtjylland is blown away by a visit to the Joneliere, the training center of FC Nantes.
  • The following year, he launched the first academy in Denmark, which was quickly successful.
  • For 15 years, FC Midtjylland, which was inspired by the formation of Nantes, has notably hatched defenders Simon Kjaer (formerly Losc) and Joachim Andersen (OL).

In February 2003, the educators at the FC Nantes training center were surprised to see representatives of some 20 Danish clubs arrive. Among them is
Claus Steinlein, invited by the Danish federation to attend the training of the young categories and to visit the infrastructures, through
Allan Michaelsen. This former FCN midfielder (from 1969 to 1972), who died in 2016 (at the age of 68), played a decisive role with FC Midtjylland, as did the Nantes club, which "opened all its doors for three days ".

The first big success of FC Midtjylland's formation Simon Kjaer (center) poses with the Palermo jersey in 2008, alongside Claus Steinlein (left),
The first big success of FC Midtjylland formation Simon Kjaer (center) poses with the Palermo jersey in 2008, alongside Claus Steinlein (left), – CLAUS FISKER / SCANPIX DENMARK / AFP

"I did not know the incredible history of this club before going and it immediately struck me to discover that three world champions 98 (Deschamps, Desailly and Karembeu) had been trained at FC Nantes, remembers Claus Steinlein, Managing Director of FC Midtjylland and founder of his academy. Everything was '' waouh '', the coaches and the installations. And each player was twice as good as our kids. Here's how everything changed quickly in this club located in the small town of Herning.

It's simple, before 2004, all our young people trained only three times a week. Some had to make a three hour round trip bus to come to training because we did not have a shelter. Each team had only one coach, without technical staff or physical trainer. We thought that was enough, we were so far from professional football. Suddenly, our training budget was increased from 100,000 to 800,000 euros. Before, it was for fun and then it became a business. "

25 million euros in nuggets transferred for 15 years

A business that did not take long to bear fruit since, from the first promotion of 13 players (aged 15 to 19) housed at the academy, include goalkeeper Jonas LOssl (Everton, formerly Guingamp), and the defenders Winston Reid (West Ham) and Simon Kjaer (Atalanta, ex-Losc). This last, international danish, was sold 4 million euros in Palermo, at 19 years. Lyonnais Joachim Andersen, Pione Sisto (Celta Vigo), Rasmus Nissen (Red Bull Salzburg) and Andreas Poulsen (Borussia Monchengladbach) also followed, for a total of 25 million euros gleaned with transfers of the nuggets of the club.

So FC Midtjylland, champion in 2015 and 2018, is today recognized as "the best academy in Denmark". His success extends to Europe as the club eliminated last season Manchester United (3-1) to reach the quarterfinals of the Youth League, the equivalent of the U19 Champions League. "I am embarrassed never to have thanked FC Nantes for all this time, says Claus Steinlein. Because if I had not discovered the structures of Nantes, we would have clearly not opened an academy since 2004. "

Even the motto of the Danish Academy comes from the Joneliere

This first academy created in Denmark took several years ahead of its competitors by quickly applying the professional model discovered in 2003 in Nantes. It now has 40 players in accommodation, with seven to eight scheduled trainings per week for all. Only a few adaptations to "Scandinavian culture" have been made.

"We never wanted to create special classes or schedules for our young people," said this former semi-pro footballer in the 90's in Aalborg (D1 Danish). And they have more freedoms than in France: they can leave the academy at night without any problem. For the rest, FC Nantes left an indelible imprint on FC Midtjylland, right up to the walls of the accommodation center, on which appears a motto written in Latin at La Joneliere (in the boarding school and in the locker room young people) and translating as follows: "He who renounces to become better is already ceasing to be good".

20 seconds of context

We discovered by chance this amazing connection between FC Nantes and FC Midtjylland by preparing the portrait of Joachim Andersen, OL's flagship rookie last summer. The general manager of the Danish club Claus Steinlein thus slipped us this information by telling us the course of his ex-protege.

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