Daniel Agger: The Danish Hansen

Daniel Agger: The Danish Hansen

Player Profile: Daniel Agger

Date of Birth: 12/12/1984

Position: Centre-back

Height: 1.91 m

National Team: Denmark

International Caps: 75

International Goals: 12

Club Career

Every football purist appreciates a ball playing centre half. While many in the Premier League were content to find row Z, Daniel Agger brought poise and grace to the art of defending, leading many at Anfield to compare him Liverpool great Alan Hansen.

Although his Liverpool career was somewhat curtailed by injury, Agger was held in high esteem at Anfield largely thanks to his technical ability and ferocious long range shot. Even though the club is enjoying the days of Virgil Van Dijk at the time of writing, the Danish giant is still remembered with great fondness on Merseyside.

Agger started his footballing career as a tall, gangly, less tattooed 20-year-old centre back at Danish outfit Brondby, breaking through from the youth ranks in July 2004. The young Dane made the position his own and became a key component in Brondby’s title-winning effort in the 2004/05 campaign.

Brondby lost their title to FC Copenhagen in 2005/06 while Agger suffered a long term injury, a theme that would unfortunately follow him throughout his professional career. But despite his injury troubles, Agger was earning some admiring glances from overseas. Liverpool, in particular, were keeping a close eye on the promising defender.

The admiring glances turned into a transfer in January 2006 as Agger sealed his move to the then European Champions. Liverpool paid their record fee for a defender at the time, a fee of £6 million a big statement of how highly Rafael Benitez rated the youngster.

Where he had hit the ground running at his home club Brondby, Agger took a little longer to adjust to life in England. This is more than understandable when you consider that he was faced with the task of uprooting a central defensive partnership that had just brought home the club’s fifth European Cup. Liverpool legends Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia had formed a formidable partnership and breaking into the team was always going to be a challenge for the Danish international.

Agger would go on to make just four appearances in his maiden season at the club as he watched his new teammates go on to win the FA Cup in May 2006. A slow start to life at Anfield, but it wouldn’t be long before the Dane would make an impact.

At the beginning of the 2006/07 season, Agger emerged with the ball out of defence unopposed in a home game against West Ham United. As he sauntered towards the Kop, space parted in front of him, and he let rip with a thunderbolt from 35 yards out that screamed into the top corner. His first goal for Liverpool was voted Match of The Day’s Goal of the Month and then Liverpool’s Goal of the Season. Not a bad way to announce your arrival.

As much as Agger’s ability to release the odd 30 yard pile driver became of trademark of his, the Dane’s calmness and composure on the ball and eye for a pass was remarkable and something that neither Hyypia or Carragher possessed in their locker.

The 2006/07 season continued to be another eventful and remarkable campaign for Liverpool football club, and Agger would play a big part in how events played out. Two years later, another Champions League semi-final against Chelsea arrived. Trailing 3-2 from the first leg at Stamford Bridge, the Reds needed a win at Anfield to keep the tie alive and send them to another European Cup final. And it was Agger who provided the big moment, sweeping the ball home from Steven Gerrard’s cut back to cause pandemonium in the Kop and send Liverpool to Athens at Chelsea’s expense once again.

But the highs of a Champions League final were soon replaced by the lows of another injury. Sami Hyypia was back in the fold once again when Agger was struck down by a metatarsal injury, an injury that would keep him out for the vast majority of the 2007/08 season. Liverpool even decided to bring in further defensive reinforcements in the form of Martin Skrtel in the January transfer window.

July 2008 saw Agger’s return to training at Melwood. However, he would not return to the starting lineup just yet as Benitez chose to go with his tried and trusted centre backs for the start of the campaign. However, an injury to Skrtel in October saw the door re-open for Agger and he began to play his way back into favour. He enjoyed another good run in the side, reminding the Anfield faithful exactly how well he could strike a ball in the game against Blackburn Rovers in April.

A new contract was on the table for Agger, but he would soon be back on the treatment table as his Anfield career stalled once more. A two-month stint on the sidelines was a result of surgery needed to correct a recurring back problem, but this time he was straight back into the reckoning when he returned to fitness. His return to the side didn’t necessarily coincide with a good run of form for the Reds though.

Over the next few years, managers came and went in the form of Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish. But one thing remained consistent – Agger’s injury problems. However, so did his ability to play out from the back and he was continually compared to Scottish legend Hansen during his time defending (and sometimes attacking) the Kop.

While playing for Dalglish in 2012, Agger finally experienced the feeling of lifting silverware in a red shirt. The Dane played the vast majority of the match before being subbed off (typically) through injury before Liverpool went on to win the League Cup against Cardiff City on penalties. He’d get another chance with the FA Cup final later that year, but Chelsea finally exacted their revenge by winning that one.

With Liverpool considered sleeping giants in 2012, Agger was attracting admiring glances once again from some of Europe’s biggest clubs. Manchester City and Barcelona were names that were thrown about, but a brand new “You’ll Never Walk Alone” tattoo signalled Agger’s intentions. If he wasn’t already popular on the Kop, he was loved now. His loyalty was rewarded in 2013 with the club’s vice-captaincy as he stated he never wished to leave Liverpool while he was still wanted. 

But as the likes of Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho began to arrive for bumper transfer fees, it was clear that the beginning of the end was here for his Anfield career. Liverpool fans love loyalty and Agger’s was impeccable as he chose to leave to return to his boyhood club Brondby for a fee of £3 million in August 2014.

It was not exactly a fairytale ending though. Agger played just two seasons with Brondby before announcing his retirement at the early age of 31. The game was robbed of one of the great, graceful centre-halves too early.

International career

As quickly as Daniel Agger was snapped up by Liverpool in 2005, the scouts at the Denmark national team were quick to catch on to his talent as he was handed his full debut in the same year. He played a part in Denmark’s unsuccessful 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign but was then recruited for the under 21s side that was faring a little better.

The next World Cup campaign was slightly better, and Denmark made it to the finals in South Africa. Agger got on the score sheet in Denmark’s opener. Unfortunately it was in the wrong net as his country went down to the Netherlands. Denmark’s group-stage exit meant his participation at the event did not last long.

In fact, that was the story of much of his international career. He missed the golden era of the Laudrup brothers, and even with Christian Eriksen emerging as a top talent, Agger was unable to guide the national team to any real success.

Agger’s international highlight was arguably a goal against their arch-enemy, Sweden in a bad-tempered 3-3 draw. In fact, the game was so bad-tempered that it was abandoned before the end of the 90 minutes and Sweden were awarded the win.

Did you know?

– Agger’s love of tattoos is evident when you look at him. His most notable football-related piece being the “YNWA” initials tattooed on his knuckles. In fact, he loves tattoos so much that he is now a qualified tattoo artist!

– He also runs a sewerage company along with his brother, uncle and friend called KloAgger.

– Agger once paid for the whole Danish team to travel to and compete in the Homeless World Cup.

– As a young player, his mother used to have to drag him along to play football. Agger’s original dream was to be in the military.