Christian Poulsen in profile

The thirty-year old Danish midfielder’s route to Anfield was certainly a circuitous one. With many years experience of playing in his homeland as well as Germany, Spain and Italy he signed for Liverpool shortly before the start of the 2010-11 Premier League season. With an aggressive playing style that had seen him involved in a number of controversial incidents over the years, the man who was given the No. 28 shirt is possibly seen as a direct replacement for Javier Mascherano, who wants to play outside England.

If relatively unknown to Liverpool’s supporters, Poulsen is certainly not a stranger to the club’s recently-appointed manager. Poulsen had been given his first big break as a twenty-year old by Roy Hodgson at F.C. København at the start of the new millennium; and was part of the squad that won the Danish Superliga title in 2001 & ended as runners-up 2002 when he was voted FCK's player of the season. Poulsen played as an attacking midfielder in Denmark, scoring 10 goals in 45 games for F.C. København.

Poulsen made his full international debut for Denmark vs Holland towards the end of 2001 and moved to German club Schalke after the 2002 World Cup. He stayed in Gelsenkirchen for four seasons, adding the German League Cup to his list of honours, before moving in 2006 to the reigning UEFA Cup holders, Sevilla. Poulsen was the first player to be named as Danish Player of the Year for two consecutive years in 2005 and 2006 and arrived with a big reputation to protect. Poulsen was a phenomenal success at Sevilla, and after a brilliant start to his Sevilla career Spanish newspaper Marca singled him out as the best buy in Spain over the summer. The Spanish club retained the UEFA Cup in Glasgow a year later after defeating their compatriots Espanyol; the match went to both extra-time and penalties and Poulsen played throughout the 120 minutes, although he was not called on to take a spot-kick at the end.

After two seasons in Spain the Dane moved again, this time to Juventus. Although he signed a four-year contract on his arrival in Italy, he would only spend two seasons with the Turin club featuring in 48 out of their 76 league games. He did not make a significant impression and Juve were prepared to release him after a single season with Turkish clubs interested, but he stayed on to fight for his place for another year, whilst continuing to tot up his international appearances to well past the half-century mark.

The most significant of Christian Poulsen’s involvement with controversy, at international level anyway, came towards the end of a crucial European Championship qualifying match with neighbours Sweden in Copenhagen at the start of June, 2007. With the match poised level at three goals apiece in the final minute, Poulsen punched Swedish striker Rosenberg and was sent off by the referee, who had been alerted by one of his assistants. As Poulsen left the field, a Danish supporter ran onto the pitch to confront the referee, who immediately abandoned the game, which was later awarded 3-0 to Sweden. Poulsen apologised for his actions, citing provocation by Rosenberg, served the three-match ban imposed by UEFA and was re-instated into the national squad by coach Morten Olsen once his suspension was over despite considerable pressure that he would never be chosen again. Poulsen helped his country qualify for the South African World Cup in 2010 and played in all three of Denmark’s group matches but the Danes finished third behind the Netherlands and Japan and so failed to reach the knock-out stage of the tournament.

Poulsen is certainly a take-no-prisoners type of player, uncompromising being a common adjective for his style of play. He is careful in upsetting the opponent when the referee is not watching and had famous battles with Totti and Kaká. Totti lost his temper and spat in Poulsen's face in the 2004 European Championship earning himself a three match ban in the process. Then Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti branded Poulsen a coward after Schalke's and Milan's duel in the 2005-06 Champions League, claiming: "He plays his game when the referee is not watching, he starts swinging kicks, pushing his rivals when the official's back is turned. He is a coward and he shouldn't be playing football." Kaká was yellow carded for a foul on Poulsen and admitted:" I have learnt many things from this game. I accept being closely and decisively marked but Poulsen's football style is not just. It's not that I justify Totti's behaviour but from what I've seen during 90 minutes I can try understand what he went through."

Poulsen's game isn't though just about his physical approach. He is a much better passer of the ball than Mascherano and Lucas and could chip in with a goal or two. Arriving on Merseyside, Poulsen is about to embark on his 14th successive season as a professional, a playing career that has now taken him to five different countries within Europe. As a ‘new’ Liverpool team emerges under a new manager who already knows him well, he can expect to see a lot of playing-time and despite his brushes with authority in the past is likely to be a popular figure with his team-mates as well as with his new supporters.

Copyright - - written by Chris Wood and Arnie

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