Thursday, December 15, 2011

15 December 1952 - The Prince Of Denmark

On this day in 1952, Danish international striker Allan Simonsen was born in Vejle. He went on to become the first player to score in all three of the European Cup, UEFA Cup, and Cup Winners' Cup finals, and was the first Danish player to be named European Footballer of the Year.

He started his professional career in 1971 with his hometown club, Vejle BK, where he helped the club to the Danish league title in his first season. They repeated as champions in 1972, complemented with a victorious Danish Cup campaign. Simonsen's play drew the attention of defending Bundesliga champions Borussia Mönchengladbach, who signed him later that year.

Although it took his a while to acclimate to his new German surroundings, he ultimately became a key player for his new club, scoring 76 goals in 178 league appearances between 1972 and 1979. Along the way, he won three Bundesliga titles (1975, 1976, 1977), two UEFA Cups (1975, 1979), and one German Cup (1973). They also reached the final of the European Cup in 1977, but lost 3-1 to Liverpool, with Simonsen scored the Germans' lone goal. His performance in that 1976-77 season made him the 1977 European Footballer of the Year.

In 1979, after scoring the winning goal in that year's UEFA Cup Final, he moved to Barcelona. In three seasons there, he added the Copa del Rey (1981) to his silverware collection, then scored another match-winning goal in European competition to beat Standard Liège in the 1982 Cup Winners' Cup.

After a short time with Charlton Athletic (1982-83), Simonsen finished his playing career back in Vejle, winning yet another Danish league title in 1984 before retiring in 1989. He has since moved into management with Vejle (1991-94), the Faroe Islands (1994-2001), and Luxembourg (2001-04), and is currently the general manager for Danish club FC Fredericia.

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