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Waterfront Festival

Interview: Kasper Schmeichel

1 June 10 interview: Jared Wilson
photos: David Baird

" I’ll follow Notts forever, always look for their results and come back and visit a few times"

What are your favourite moments from your time at Notts? 
I can’t just pick one as there have been so many. It’s been fantastic. I’ve probably been through every emotion you can possibly imagine. Obviously knowing we’d won the championship after the game away at Darlington was fantastic. Beating Wigan away from home in the FA Cup was amazing as well. But over the course of this season there have been a lot of highs. 
You’ve just got the record for the most ever clean sheets by a Notts goalkeeper… 
Yeah, but obviously that’s not just down to me. It’s due to the way the whole team has played. We defend from the front and we defend as a team. The players in front of me stop the ball well and it hasn’t actually come through to me a lot. They’ve done a great job!
You have a brilliant record on penalties for Notts - faced five, saved four. Is there any secret to this success? 
Yeah. There is a secret to be being able to do that. But I’m not going to tell you it. 
What was it like growing up with an international superstar goalkeeper as a father? 
It’s probably no different to how it is for most people. He is just my dad – I don’t think of him as a superstar. Obviously because of his job I’ve had some experiences that a lot of people won’t have had, but I’ve probably missed out on a lot of things others had too. I feel privileged to have him as a father though and I wouldn’t change a thing.

The World Cup is coming up soon. Did you go to any of the tournaments with your family when you were younger? 
Yeah, I’ve been to a few. I went to France ’98 with him, which was unbelievable. Obviously they just lost out in the quarter finals then to Brazil. The World Cup is a fantastic spectacle to see in person. It was very enjoyable being there.  
There’s an outside chance you might get in the Denmark squad for this tournament… 
I don’t think it will happen. I know Thomas Sorenson got injured a few weeks ago, but he’s a fit lad and I hope and pray that he is well enough to go. He’s our main man and one of our leaders – my country needs him there desperately. And even if he doesn’t go, Denmark is blessed with a lot of good goalkeepers, the competition for places is quite fierce. 
There was talk a while ago that you are eligible to play in goal for England too. Is that something you would consider? 
I’ll never play for England. I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but it would be like asking an Englishman to play for France. I’m Danish all the way. 
You weren’t always a goalkeeper though… 
No. I was a striker for a long time and I still play there quite a lot in training. It came to a point when I was younger where I had to make a decision about what I could go the furthest with and what would be the best career choice for me. I’d played in a lot of different positions, but I think the position that was always home to me was being in goal. 
You played under Sven at Man City and then you came to play for him at Notts. What’s he like to work with? 
He’s great. Sven is a gentleman, a thoroughly nice man and he knows his stuff about football. He always finds a good way of conveying his message. 
How did the regime under him and Trembling compare to Ray Trew and Steve Cotterill… 
I dunno. To be honest we don’t really have a lot to do at boardroom level. The team don’t think about all the finance stuff – we just go out and do our jobs on the pitch. But it’s been amazing working under Steve Cotterill. From the first day that he came in he told us that he wanted to win the league. We were fourteen points behind the top team when he came in and everyone was a bit sceptical, but his enthusiasm is infectious and his desire to win every game rubs off. Even after we’d won the title there was no easing off at all. We wanted to win and it’s great to have a manager like that. 

After everything that has happened in the last season it’s even more of an achievement to have played so well and come out on top… 
It’s brilliant. It’s all credit to the players and the coaching staff. Everyone here has done their bit and it’s been an amazing season. 
Did the amount of column inches, both good and bad, that the club generated this season end up giving you a siege mentality in the dressing room? 
No. To be honest we never really took that much notice of it. We have a great dressing room, there’s a lot of banter going around and a lot of fun and games. We’ve never taken any of that pressure coming from the outside too seriously. We’ve generally just concentrated on playing football and we’ve reaped the rewards. 
Who were your footballing idols as a kid? 
I have many. Obviously my dad was a big one – I’m a raging Man United fan so most of their players like Giggs, Cantona, Beckham were all people I looked up to, and Wayne Rooney now. They’re amazing players to watch and you can always learn from them no matter what position you play. In terms of goalkeepers I’ve always looked up to Iker Casillas at Real Madrid, Edwin Van Der Sar, David Seaman, David James and Shay Given – who I was lucky enough to work with. It’s a great privelige to work with good keepers and I’ve always studied them a lot. 
Are you aware of some of the great Notts keepers of the past like Albert Iremonger, Raddy Avramovic and Steve Cherry? 
Yeah. Obviously they’re before my time but people have told me about them. I’ve never really seen video of them play or anything, but you can’t help but be aware of the history of the club. 
So you’re leaving Notts soon. What are your emotions about that? 
It’s a bit of a weird feeling. I’m excited about my prospects and what could happen, but there’s also a degree of sadness. I’ve enjoyed my time here and I’ll definitely miss the place, the players and the fans, but it’s one of those things and there’s no other way it can be. I just have to take it on the chin and move on really. I’ll follow Notts forever, always look for their results and come back and visit a few times. 
What are the chances of us ever seeing you in a Notts shirt again? 
All I’ll say is that in football you can never say never. I certainly wouldn’t rule it out as football is a funny game and you never know where it’s going to take you. 
Where are you going to be watching the World Cup? I take it you’ll be cheering on Denmark… 
Yeah of course. I’ll be watching it with my family, including my dad, in my home country too – I’m going back there after our last game and will be staying there for the summer.  
Have you got any mates in the World Cup who you’ll be looking out for? 
Yeah. I live virtually next to Thomas Sorensen back home and I see him a lot. I’ve played with the likes of Nicklas Bendtner and Daniel Agger in the youth team. I think we can do reasonably well if we stay injury free. Obviously Thomas’s injury could be a massive blow, but there’s still a good chance he’ll make it and I think we’ve got a good chance of progressing from the group stages. 
Who do you think will win it? 
Obviously I hope Denmark win it. But if I was putting money on it I’d look at the likes of Brazil, Spain, Italy and Germany. You can’t discount these teams at all.

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