December 14, 2017

Yussuf Poulsen – Unsung Hero of both RB Leipzig and Denmark

On Tuesday evening, Denmark became the 30th team to progress to the 2018 World Cup in Russia by defeating the Republic of Ireland, though it wasn’t as straightforward as the final score suggested.

Denmark had mustered just a 0-0 at home to Ireland and went to Dublin needing an away goal to maximize their chances of qualification. It was the home team, however, who opened the scoring in the fifth minute as defender Shane Duffy rose above Kasper Schmiechel to give Martin O’Neil’s side the lead. The visitors fought back, kept on attacking, and eventually came back with the resounding 5-1 win.

Tottenham Hotspur’s attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen will deservedly get all the praise after his hat-trick heroics, but there was also an important figure up front, a player who, despite not scoring, did a whole lot of work off the ball.

That player was Yussuf Poulsen.

The Leipzig man had to be subbed early in the second half after a collision, but his first-half contribution was incredible. Poulsen’s movement disrupted the Irish defense, allowing Eriksen to move into great scoring positions. Such is the playing style of Poulsen that he rarely gets a mention when people talk about Leipzig. Timo Werner, Naby Keita, and Emile Forsberg are the names that immediately come to mind when discussing the contenders, but Poulsen is as invaluable as any of them.

The Bundesliga YouTube channel features a program called ‘Owo Meets’.  Hosted by former Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen defender Patrick Owomoyela, the series consists of monthly interviews with some of the league’s top players . This month’s guest was Poulsen, providing opportunity to know a little more about the striker.

Here are some of the questions Owo put forward. I have tried to paraphrase the ones I found interesting.

I expected a really annoyed Poulsen because you lost two games to Bayern recently and you had a player sent off in both games. Was that the reason you lost those games?

The second one, for sure. We were okay in the game, but when you are only ten men for almost 80 minutes, then it’s hard to win away against Bayern. But in the Cup game ,we were actually the best team in the first half. We played well and ended up with a penalty shoot out where anything can happen.

Your former roommate Joshua Kimmich is playing for Bayern Munich now. What is special about him? Was he your cleaning personnel? Did he cook?

(laughing) Actually me, Diego, and Joshua cooked a lot together. It wasn’t our expertise, but we were developing our cooking skills together.

You once said the club spirit at Leipzig is different. How it is different?

We believe our bond is exceptional because there are so many young players at the same age. Our girlfriends are also at the same age, and I think it makes the team stronger when there is a connection outside the pitch.

 You have African roots from Tanzania. Do you go there and visit?

Yes I do. I went there for a summer vacation. I try to go as much as I can.

You can watch the full video here.

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Brook lives in Ethiopia, and started following the Bundesliga from a very young age. His favourite players then were Thomas Rosicky - the reason he became a Dortmund fan! - and Marcelinho of Hertha Berlin. He likes to watch, read, write and talk about football with special interest in discussing emerging young talents. Follow @brookge

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