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Interviews

INTERVIEW: Coming to England was a very big step

From football to mountain biking to the Premier League with Lukas Jensen

26 July 2021

Keeper Lukas Jensen comes across as a young man who has thus far taken everything is his stride, but a scratch beneath the surface of his journey from Denmark to Lancashire, and subsequently to Cumbria, reveals that his route to securing a contract with Premier League club Burnley has been anything but smooth.

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Indeed it emerges that there was a spell during his formative years where he threw away the gloves completely as he swapped keeping goal for mountain biking – a sport where he also excelled.

“Those stories are true, I did do that,” he confirmed. “I actually stopped playing football when I was 14, to do mountain biking, and I got really good at it.

“But, I just missed the connection you have with the fans and the team spirit you get when you play football. When you ride mountain bikes it’s single work, all the time, and you don’t have the same team spirit.

“I missed that, so I started playing football again when I was nearly 17, and I’ve been playing ever since. It wasn’t easy because I Hadn’t played for three years.

“You kind of have to start again at that point if you want to live in the football world, which is what I wanted. All my friends and my family told me that I had to do it.  I just risked starting to play football again to see if I had the same passion.

“The problem was that I had a coach that took all the passion away from the young players, because I was moved into the first team when I was 14, so that didn’t help me. That’s why I took some time away from football and started mountain biking, to be honest.

“When I grew up a little bit, got older, it was easier to come back. I was more mature than when I was 14, so it was easier to handle, and I’ve handled it ever since.”

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Making his way back into the game quickly developed into a spell in the top Danish league and visits by a number of scouts.

“I played in the best league at home and I got one game in the best league when I was young,” he said. “I moved down the ranks to play more games, and then I got the opportunity to come to Burnley, and I said why not?

“I had just finished high school, so I had the time to do it and wanted to give it a shot. I had the trial with them and they liked me.

“I spent the first year playing for the under-23s and then, of course, Covid came and messed it up a little bit. I went out to Bolton and then Iceland, and now I’m here, to play a lot of games.”

His spell at the University of Bolton Stadium coincided with a meteoric rise for the Wanderers last season which eventually earned them automatic promotion and a step up to League One.

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“It was a weird loan, I would say,” he told us. “I won’t lie, I didn’t get as many minutes in the legs as I wanted to, but being in a promotion squad is a good experience in itself.

“We came from the bottom and we worked our way up, so going through all of that was very valuable for me. Hopefully we can do it again here this season.

“Being in a first team dressing room is very different to under-23 or youth football. In the youth game it’s about development, but when you come to League Two, League One, or wherever, there’s something on the line in every game.

“If you make a mistake it costs points and goals, and it hurts the team, so having that pressure helps you to perform at a higher level. I like playing in front of a big crowd when it’s like that, so it’s all good as far as I’m concerned.

“The fact is I really want to play games. That’s my target, I don’t want to sit around doing nothing. I want to be a top goalkeeper and to do that sometimes you need to take a step back, which I did when I went to Iceland to play games.

“It’s given me a good run up to pre-season here at a good club, and hopefully I can keep that momentum going and progress from where I was in Iceland into League Two.”

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And, of course, it’s his parent club Burnley who have made all of this possible.

“Coming to England was a very big step,” he admitted. “I always said England is the best country to play football in, especially if you look at how many professional leagues you have.

“Then you have all the semi-professional leagues. In Denmark we have one and a half, maybe two now, so it’s very different.

“To come to England and play football here is what I’ve dreamed about. It’s a childhood dream I’m living at the moment. Hopefully it can be even bigger. 

“Burnley has been really good. If you just look at the history of the goalkeepers who’ve been there it’s quite some names. When I first got there it was a bit overwhelming I would say, to be in and around Joe Hart, Tom Heaton, Nick Pope, they’ve all been great to me.

“They’ve been like mentors, all of them, with what I could learn from them and what they’ve taught me throughout the season. It’s been really great being at Burnley.

“I’d say it’s a dream coming true playing over here. If I look back four or five years and I never thought I would be here, going from not playing football to signing with a Premier League club, and now being at a League Two club that really want to play for promotion, that’s quite something.”

“Now it’s about what happens here,” he concluded. “We want to play these big games, when fans are getting back to the stadium, and we can really look forward to it now.

“We have some good games coming up, we just have to get the small details right and I believe we can do really well this season.”

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