Scandinavian Stars Who Never Played in the Premier League

A few Scandinavian stars still managed to reach their stardom despite never competing in the Premier League.

The Premier League has been considered the world’s best league for most of this millennium. Players and managers around the world dream of competing in the English top flight at some point in their career, including those from the Nordic countries.

The Premier League has always been the primary or conventional aim for Scandinavian players looking to develop their skills. England is geographically adjacent to the Nordic countries without any linguistic barriers, as most Scandinavians also speak English. So, adaptation is not an issue.

In the past few years, Scandinavian players have been one of the team’s key figures at the top level. Zlatan Ibrahimović and Erling Haaland are surely the best examples. The former had won silverware at any club he played for, including Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, PSG, and Manchester United. The latter managed to clinch a treble in his first season with Manchester City. This season, Finlnish international Lukas Hradecky is poised to win the Bundesliga, as Bayer Leverkusen leads the table by 13 points ahead of the reigning champions Bayern Munich.

Unlike Ibra and Haaland, Hradecky has never played in England’s top division. He has spent the majority of his career in Germany. Previously, the shot stopper had a spell with Eintracht Frankfurt, was only able to lift one DFB Pokal trophy. Here are the other Scandinavian stars who made their marks outside England.

Preben Elkjær (Denmark)

He was considered one of the best forwards in the 1980s. Elkjær was instrumental in Denmark’s achievements, which included reaching the semifinals of EURO 1984 and making their World Cup debut in Mexico two years later. The former 1. FC Köln man netted four goals in the tournament, including a hat-trick, while dismantling Uruguay 6-1 at the group stage.

At the club level, the Copenhagen-born frontman helped Hellas Verona win their first and only league title in 1985, which was his first season in Italy. Yet he never played in England. Elkjær spent most of his career in Belgium, with KSC Lokeren. Previously, he played for Bundesliga side 1. FC Köln but fell out of favour with his boss. In the twilight of his career, he opted to return home by joining Vejle BK before retiring.

Nils Liedholm (Sweden)

He was Sweden’s hero in the late 1940s and 1950s. At that time, Blagut was the new football powerhouse, and he contributed heavily in their golden years. Liedholm helped Sweden win a gold medal at the 1948 Summer Olympics and advance to the 1958 World Cup final. He bagged two goals in each tournament.

The former attacking midfielder spent most of his career with AC Milan, where he delivered four Serie A titles and helped them become European Cup runners-up in 1958. It was his only club abroad during his career.

Liedholm was also a fairly successful as a manager. He guided his former club and AS Roma to win one league title each. The late-Swede even lifted more trophies with Giallorossi with three domestic cups and led them to the European Cup final in 1984 before losing to Liverpool on penalties.

Michael Laudrup (Denmark)

He is probably the best Nordic player without a spell in England. Laudrup had an illustrious career at Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Ajax. He won league titles in each of them, plus a lot more for the Catalan giants, including the European Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and Copa del Rey.

Laudrup was also a star on the Danish national team when they participated in the 1986 and 1998 FIFA World Cups. He also helped his country win the 1995 FIFA Confederation Cup alongside his brother, Brian.

Unfortunately, he gained less success in the European Championship. He was part of the squad when Denmark went through the semifinals of EURO 1984, where he provided three assists while routing Yugoslavia 5-0, but failed to shine in EURO 1988 and 1996. The worst thing was that he turned down the call-up prior to EURO 1992, when they lifted the trophy.

The former playmaker did have a stint in the Premier League with Swansea City as a manager and delivered their first and only silverware, the EFL League Cup, in 2013. His reign at other clubs had mixed results, with impressive spells at Brøndby and Getafe but disappointing ones at Spartak Moscow and Mallorca.

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