Serritslev: U21s were vital learning curve

Seven years ago Flemming Serritslev led a Denmark team with Daniel Agger and Nicklas Bendtner to the U21 finals – here he shares his thoughts ahead of the tournament in Israel.

The UEFA European Under-21 Championship kicks off in Israel on Wednesday and knowing what the eight coaches will be going through is Flemming Serritslev, who led Denmark to the final tournament in 2006.

Serritslev, capped three times by Denmark as a player, had already been assistant coach of the senior team for eight years when he took the U21 helm in 2000, finally achieving EURO qualification at his third attempt. At the finals in Portugal, Denmark drew with Italy and the Netherlands and lost to Ukraine, his squad containing the likes of Daniel Agger and Nicklas Bendtner, and facing players including Simone Pepe, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Artem Milevskiy.

"It was the first time in a long while that Denmark had participated in an Under-21 Championship, and we knew that no matter how it would end up for us our players would have three very tough games that would help their development," Serritslev told "As I see it, the more games at international level that young players get, the better they are prepared later on for the national team."

The 66-year-old also believes there is more to being a coach at that age group than the game itself. "It is very important that you are not only speaking about football, but you also have other aspects to your life in a training camp that are not about football," Serritslev, who also coached Armenia U21s, explained. "It could be having some other games in your hotel; it could be going out visiting famous places. It's very important sometimes to break the rhythm."

The reward is when players are promoted to the senior squad. "It's fantastic and very satisfying," said the trainer, whose latest assignment has been with Mes Kerman in Iran. "From this team I had many players that went on to form our senior team and went to final tournaments. It has been a big pleasure for me as a coach to watch this development."

To see the full interview click on the video player above.