Capped just ten times in eight years since his international debut, Denmark's Stephan Andersen is keen to grab his chance to impress with both hands after long-serving goalkeeper Thomas Sørensen was ruled out of UEFA EURO 2012 by injury.
The Évian Thonon Gaillard FC No1 was Sørensen's understudy throughout qualifying but got an unexpected opportunity between the posts two weeks ago when the 35-year-old hurt his back during a pre-tournament friendly against Brazil.
Andersen's subsequent display in the 2-0 victory against Australia prompted Morten Olsen to confirm that the former Brøndby IF custodian will start the 1992 European champions' Group B opener against the Netherlands in Kharkiv on Saturday.
"I've always tried to take the chances I get and I'm very happy to be here now," Andersen told UEFA.com at Denmark's training camp before the team travelled to Ukraine. "Thomas [Sørensen] played most of the games in qualifying and he worked hard to be here, and of course I feel sorry for him."
Andersen is no stranger to being thrust suddenly into the spotlight. He arrived at Ligue 1 newcomers Evian last summer as a No2, only for Bertrand Laquait to succumb to a long-term injury which enabled the Copenhagen-born keeper to excel in the starting lineup, particularly in the latter part of the campaign.
"A goalkeeper has a certain influence, because there are situations when he has to perform some miracles and that is necessary if you want to succeed in the tournament, and of course I hope we can achieve that," said the 30-year-old.
Andersen is one of four players in the Danish party who were at Evian last term, along with Christian Poulsen, Daniel Wass and Thomas Kahlenberg. The understanding they have developed in that period is certainly a positive for Olsen, even if the shot-stopper is the only one like to start against the Netherlands.
Andersen's elevation to No1 status also created an opening for Kasper Schmeichel, son of the great Peter Schmeichel, to join the squad. "Kasper is a fantastic guy – he has a lot of positive energy and great charm," said Andersen of his uncapped team-mate. "He is always in a good mood, which is a positive thing for a squad. Apart from that, he is a fantastic goalkeeper and he also increases the competition."
As for Schmeichel Sr, Andersen has nothing but admiration for one of the stars of his country's EURO '92 triumph in Sweden. "The majority of young goalkeepers in Denmark considered Peter to be an idol when he played and, of course, I was no exception."
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