Following new signing Andreas Cornelius’ first press conference as a Cardiff City player, we caught up with Danish and MX Metroexpress sports reporter Jesper Kirkbak for the lowdown on the Bluebirds’ new frontman.
Below is his account of the rapid rise of the Danish International from promising youngster to Premier League front man.
I first saw Andreas in the spring of 2012, he came on from the bench with ten minutes to go against AGF Aarhus, it was his debut. It was a tough start for him. That game ended 0-0 at a time when FC Copenhagen were trying to maintain their advantage over rivals FC Nordsjælland in the table. As I remember it, Cornelius didn't really get into that game but it was only his debut.
One year later Cornelius, or Corner as was his nickname, was no substitute when FC Copenhagen once again became champions, with his 18 goals out of a total of FC Copenhagen’s 62 a major influence.
A new manager arrived last season in Ariël Jacobs, who quickly benched Dame N'Doye, last season's top scorer and arguably one of the best players seen in the Danish Superligaen.
N’Doye had publicly said he wanted to leave and everybody expected FC Copenhagen, perhaps the wealthiest club in Denmark, to buy a new striker. However the new season started and boom, Cornelius came on during the season opener against FC Midtjylland and with FC Copenhagen behind by two goals, he helped to bring them back from behind, scoring the equaliser in the 78th minute, going on to eventually win the game 4-2.
I met Cornelius for the first time in the North Sea town of Esbjerg. I was covering FC Copenhagen's game against the local team. Cornelius had now scored two goals in three matches, but his form would only continue. Once against he scored a crucial goal in a 2-1 win for his side. Nobody could ignore the tall 19 year-old kid any longer.
I spoke to him after the game and he was young and smiling, but also very confident. I asked him: "How many goals will you score this season?" He answered: "How many games are there?" And he smiled a big boy's smile. Manager Carsten V. Jensen had an even larger smile; he was proud.
29 games later, Cornelius had become the topscorer of Superligaen with 18 goals, two more than Nicklas Helenius from AaB Aalborg, now of course of Aston Villa.
I saw that same smile I’d seen previously in the season at the reigning champions FC Nordsjælland’s homeground in Farum last April. FC Copenhagen had just turned around 2-1 deficit around to secure a 3-2 win and increase their gap to ten points to rivals FC Nordsjælland with six games to go. Who scored the 3-2 winning goal? Corner Cornelius of course.
At the time he wouldn’t say the title was won, that the championship was "coming home", because there was games left to play, but the glimpse in his eyes, the yelling of his teammates told another story. FC Copenhagen secured the championship three games later with a 0-0 draw at the rivals of Brøndby's homeground.
On June 26 he graduated from the Danish equivalentto high school. The day after he was sold to a certain Welsh club. It has been incredible to follow the rise of Andreas Cornelius, it has been with a pace not seen very often.
One year ago, he had only played two senior games and just 28 minutes for FC Copenhagen, now he is holding the title as the Danish league's topscorer, and even more important, he has made his mark on the Danish national team.
Nicklas Bendtner has had a very bad season having not played much for Juventus since his move. In his place Cornelius has played seven games, starting five and scoring one goal; it was in the World Cup qualifier against Czech Republicwhere the Danes started off with a 3-0 win.
From my many meetings with Cornelius at the FC Copenhagen training ground, I carry the impression that he is a hard-working and ambitious young man. He always took his time to sign autographs, while sometimes the press had to make it quick as he, while his teammates went to go and relax, he had to study for his exams.
My impression is, that a lot of Danes look forward to see, if he can handle the pressure of the Premier League, and do well, as he is a big hope in the national team's struggle of scoring goals. As a result I think many hope the best for Cardiff City, as they really want Cornelius to keep up the pace of his career...