Euro 2017: Maja Kildemoes adapting well to life across the border

Young Dane happy to play wherever there's space

Euro 2017: Maja Kildemoes adapting well to life across the border
Credit: Getty/Christof Koepsel

A utility woman, during the first-half of the year 20-year-old Maja Kildemoes has already played almost every outfield role for either Linköping or Denmark, a natural defender a spell at right-wing brought about four goals in one game for the rangy Dane. And when asked exactly where she plays the Odense native began to laugh, unsure herself.

All-rounder

“I don’t know, sometimes I play central midfielder then defender and right-back… and then right-wing, I don’t know, where there’s space I play.”

Away from where she has played and focusing on where she feels most comfortable, Kildemoes states she’s a defender before changing her mind and mentioning her fondles for the freedom that comes with playing in the middle of the park.

Central defender, that’s the place I’ve played the most, I’ve played it for like ten years. But I like playing in the middle, there’s so much more going on and I like that I have to run in certain places and I can score goals more – more in the middle than the central defence – so I like that.

On the subject of goals, the Dane blanks when reminded that she scored a goal just minutes into her senior debut for Denmark, “I was so close…” she started before remembering her first cap more clearly, “oh yes, I scored on my first national match, that was a great start.”

When an injury crisis hit the Linköping attack, right-back Jessica Samuelsson was pushed up the pitch and had a fruitful match against Djurgården, a knock to Samuelsson saw her sit out a few weeks later and Kildemoes put into the attack. The coach’s punt to play the Dane as a winger couldn’t have paid off more as she put four past Göteborg.

I don’t know, it was just a thought that Kim [Björkegren] had, I think he knew that I could play there – there’s not so much a difference between right-back and right-wing (mostly the defensive), he knew that I could play defence but we were missing a right-winger so I took that place and I think I did well.

Having to adapt

With a recent history of signing Danish players it was no fluke that Kildemoes ended up signing for the Swedish champions, former LFC star Pernille Harder playing her part in the move.

“It’s kind of a funny story because we were with the national team and Harder said, “my coach is interested in you, would you like to come train with me?” Then some time went on and we didn’t talk about it but when the year was ending I asked if it was a real question (should I take it seriously) then she talked with the coach and in two days I was at Linköping practicing with them. They couldn’t sign the contract from August - so we made a deal that I’d sign with them from January and here we are.”

Even with Harder leaving Sweden to join VfL Wolfsburg, Kildemoes didn’t find herself as a lone Dane in Linköping, the 20-year-old taken under the wing of compatriot and international teammate, Janni Arnth. Arnth’s presence more than a little of use to the defender from Odense.

It’s great, it really helped having Janni there because she could help me with the language and all the practical stuff like getting a personal ID number and all those things; she really helped me and I felt more comfortable being there. I knew I could ask her and lean on her when I didn’t understand and that was really great.

Despite the similarities between Scandinavian languages (and cultures) there remains a difference and whilst Kildemoes wasn’t in a land far far from her home, there were clear and obvious differences that she struggled with early after the move.

It was tough because it was my first time away from home and living all alone in a new country, a different culture – the language was the most difficult because I couldn’t say what I wanted to say and everyone else couldn’t want to say what they wanted to say to me because I couldn’t understand. But it’s much better now and I just have to practice speaking it and I think that’s tough for me because I want the words to sound right and they don’t when I speak Swedish.

Life outside of football

With women’s football the way it is, almost every female footballer you encounter juggles their playing with studying, Kildemoes one of the exceptions although she admits that she’d rather have something in her life in addition to playing.

I’m not studying right now but I’d like to because sometimes it can get a bit boring just playing football, I’m used to working form 9-5 and playing but now I have only football so it’s kind of difficult. It’s a little bit boring doing nothing but football.

Whilst some footballers take the “ball is life” tack, the defensive Dane needs more in her life than just the game.

I’m not that kind of player, I’d like to read something in school, take a semester to get this (brain) running also because I feel like I’m getting dumber and dumber.

When pressed she admitted that she didn’t know about her future career rather just going with the tide.

I don’t know yet, I have thought about it but I really don’t know what I want to study or become so I’m living in the now; I’m being a professional footballer and then we’ll see what’s going to happen in the future.

Unsure about life after she hangs up her boots, Kildemoes knows that whilst she’s playing she wants to keep improving and enjoying all playing has to offer.

I want to become the best player I can be and I want to get so many experiences as possible (the Euros is one of them), and just have fun because I can’t earn a living – like male players – so I just have to enjoy the experience and love it.

Superpowers

Having featured in Denmark’s first two group games at the Euros, the defender was left head-in-hands after picking up a yellow in each match forcing her to sit out their third group match – at the time, potentially the last outing for the team in the Netherlands this summer.

“I didn’t really think about it until afterwards when I was like “oh my god, that was so stupid! What was I doing?” but then it was okay because I have faith in my team and I knew they could play up against Norway and so I felt calm. It didn’t look like it when I was sat on the bench but I was, deep inside, I was calm and I knew they could do it.”

When it came to what superpower the 20-year-old would want she may have well said, “Beam me up, Scotty,”

I think I would teleport.

When asked if that would be useful to travel between Linköping and Odense to see her family, the defender laughed more interested in climate, wanting somewhere toastier than Sweden,

To Bali, Asia, somewhere warm; it’s so cold in Linköping, it’s like -15C in the winter!” 

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