Sanne Troelsgaard Nielsen won her seventh Denmark cap in August 2009 when a 2-1 loss to the Netherlands in Lahti ended their UEFA European Women's Championship campaign at the group stage – they had been tipped to go far.
Four years on, and with more than 50 appearances under her belt, the Brøndby IF attacker is hoping for better in Sweden where, just as in 2009, they begin their campaign against the hosts – on 10 July in Gothenburg. Before this week's home friendlies with the Netherlands and Russia, Nielsen, 24, spoke to UEFA.com about Danish preparations.
UEFA.com: How would you sum up qualifying?
Sanne Troelsgaard Nielsen: I think we did very well. We were superior in our group, even though we had some trouble with Austria, losing 3-1 to them. Generally, I think we were very convincing in the other games and showed our worth in qualification.
UEFA.com: What does it mean for you to play in the finals?
Nielsen: It means a lot. It's what you've been working for, for a long time, and the hard work in the gym and on the pitch pays off when you go to the EURO. It's an incredible feeling.
UEFA.com: How are your preparations compared with 2009?
Nielsen: I think we are much better prepared. We've been together a lot more and we play well together in the national team. We are well prepared both mentally and physically, and we have a lot of tests ahead of the EURO.
I think we have to prove that we are better than being knocked out in the group stage. We have to proceed from our group, which is a clear goal. We have to prove we are a good football team and we are able to play well together. We still have to perform at a EURO, we still haven't done that.
UEFA.com: Like in 2009 you play the hosts in your opener ...
Nielsen: It's a very special feeling to open a European Championship. There's an opening ceremony beforehand. I just think it's an incredible feeling to play against the hosts. These are challenges as well, since they will have the home crowd behind them – but I hope Denmark [the nation] will be there supporting us. It's a cool game to play and it will be a big thing for us to open the tournament.
UEFA.com: Will many Danes be there?
Nielsen: I hope so. We have sold a lot of tickets in Denmark so far, so I hope we will get a lot of support. Sweden and Denmark are very close to each other, so we are expecting a lot of Danes.
UEFA.com: What about the other two teams in the group?
Nielsen: Finland and Italy are two strong teams. The Finns are very physical, the Italians are more technical and quick. We have to be aware of both teams and then play our own game.
UEFA.com: Can you describe how you felt the first time you played for Denmark?
Nielsen: It was an incredible feeling to pull on the red and white jersey. It was a dream come true. Since I was very young, I've dreamt about playing for the Danish national team, so it was an immense feeling. I was very proud to pull on the red and white.
UEFA.com: Do you still feel that?
Nielsen: It still feels great. Every time I pull on the jersey, it feels very different from when you play for an ordinary club. I'm very honoured to play and very proud to fight for Denmark.
UEFA.com: Which opponents have particularly impressed you?
Nielsen: Manon Melis from the Netherlands was exceptional at the EURO in Finland. We played against her and sadly lost to the Netherlands. I think she has outstanding technique – she's very fast and good at shaking off her opponent. And she scores a lot of goals. I think she's an incredible player.
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