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Pernille Harder on Denmark's aspirations and stellar group – interview

"Our mindset has to be to release the brakes," says the Denmark captain as her team prepare for a tough section featuring Germany and Spain.

Denmark's Pernille Harder
Denmark's Pernille Harder UEFA via Getty Images

A UEFA Women's EURO runner-up with Denmark in 2017, Pernille Harder is desperate to go one better at this summer's finals in England and add to an array of titles that includes back-to-back domestic doubles with Chelsea following her switch from Wolfsburg in 2020.

The two-time UEFA Women's Player of the Year tells UEFA.com about her development as a national-team captain and Denmark's outlook in a high-class group featuring Germany, Spain and Finland.

On being Denmark's captain and their team spirit

Harder strikes for Denmark in 2017

I have always been the type of leader who leads from the front, both on and off the pitch. I really believe that no matter how big a celebrity you are, you have to work hard and you are no better than the others.

Something else I have developed as a leader is to care about my team-mates, about how they are, not just on the pitch, to make sure they have the right mindset so they can perform at their best in matches. This is something I have learned over time, which I perhaps didn't think so much about when I was 23 and became captain.

I think we have a great bond which we have built up over the last few years. It's a feeling of always wanting the best for each other. There is of course some competition because only 11 players start, but everyone wants the best outcome. We play as a team, no one plays for themselves. It's genuine, it isn't something we just say.

On being drawn alongside Germany and Spain

Classic Denmark Women's EURO goals

We were seeded third so we knew we would meet two really, really good nations. There are so many good teams playing in this European Championship, and Germany and Spain are two of the best, perhaps two of the favourites. We know that on paper we are perhaps not as good as them but what we have – the team bond and the tactical knowledge – can maybe carry us a long way.

Our mindset has to be to release the brakes. We're considered to be underdogs in these matches, so we have to be calm and relaxed. We have a game plan for how we want to play, and we just have to go and do it, give it our all. Most important of all is to believe in the skill of our team. We have to be bold.

On beating Germany in the 2017 quarter-finals

2017 highlights: Germany 1-2 Denmark

We won 2-1 and defended really well. We took the chances we had. It's those things that are really important, to be able to defend well when under pressure and take advantage of the chances we get. That's what we did against Germany then.

It was a fantastic feeling when we knocked them out. We were the underdogs and beating such a big nation was just great. It was like "Yes! Now we are going to the final. Nobody can stand in our way now." A really fantastic feeling. We have quite a good history [with Germany] and it would be great if that history could continue here.

On the legacy of UEFA Women's EURO 2022

I think it will be the quality of the games. I have been asked before who I think are the favourites to win the EURO and, to be honest, I can't tell who I think the favourites are as there are many good teams. That says something about the quality and development we've seen in football in Europe. It has really progressed. I believe this tournament will be remembered for the quality on the pitch and the atmosphere that will arise during the games.