EPISODE 7: EBBE SAND
0:00:07 Angelina: Hi there and welcome to another great episode of A Little Bit of Genius, a podcast series run by Nord Anglia Education students.
0:00:16 Alex: For today's discussion we are honoured to be joined by the famous Danish footballer Ebbe Sand, who has played in a football World Cup twice, and the European Championship twice as well.
0:00:26 Angelina: Ebbe is also known for his record in World Cup history as the fastest substitute to score goal in a matter of just 16 seconds, he continues to express his passion for football as a team manager.
0:00:37 Ebbe: Hi everybody, nice to join your podcast. Thank you for inviting me.
0:00:42 Angelina: As you know our podcast is all about creativity, so we wanted to present you with the quote on this topic and see your thoughts about it. So, what do you think about this quote from Michael Phelps it goes “You can't put a limit on anything; the more you dream, the further you get”?
0:00:59 Ebbe: I really like that, and it's all about dreaming, but it's of course obviously not only about dreaming, it's also about doing it, but everything starts with a dream so it's really important that that you have the strings to dream high and to go for big challenges in your life, that that's how it starts and to achieve your goals.
0:01:24 Alex: So, as a kid or as a student, back when you were still in school, did you ever dream about being a professional footballer who played in the top league in Denmark and Germany?
0:01:35 Ebbe: Actually, this is a really good question because, to be honest, at that time I was not dreaming about being a professional football player, I was dreaming about being a building engineer. I had also been studying a lot, so when I was done with studying it was in January 1996, I actually finished my education as a building engineer. At that time I was already playing a lot of football and after I was done with my education I started really dreaming about being a professional football player, but, to be honest, the first year after I was done studying I had a part-time job as a building engineer and I was also a full-time professional, so it was a tough time but yeah, it started quite late with the dream of being a professional footballer.
0:02:27 Angelina: So, what did your family members or friends think about that switch from an engineer to football player?
0:02:35 Ebbe: For me it was very important to finish my education because you never know in this professional sports business how far you can go, but after one year I decided that, like in everything in your life, you have to choose one direction and do it 100%. You cannot choose between two things and that's when I really started to accelerate my career, when I was 100% focussed on my football. At that time, I was actually 25 years old so, compared to nowadays, it was really late even though it was still possible to achieve big goals afterwards.
0:03:17 Alex: So, what inspired you to become a professional football player? Did you always play football with your friends at school and during your childhood?
0:03:25 Ebbe: Yeah, I was always playing. I actually have a twin brother so, yeah, even though I still think I'm young, I'm like an old man when we are talking about all the possibilities that you have. At that time, you didn't have even computers, you didn't have PlayStation, so at that time what I was doing in my spare time was playing football with my twin brother and my friends, sometimes we went to the forest. In order to become a very good professional football player, or basketball player, to be very good at what you are doing, you need 10,000 hours of practice, and of course I had a lot of hours together with my twin brother at the club. So, yeah, I was always playing; I started playing in a club when I was five years old. Obviously, you need to practice a lot, if you're not practicing in a club, you will never become a very good football player or sportsman. If you’re only practicing two times a week in a club, like three hours. You have to have to practice every single day, and that was what I did with my twin brother every day in the garden at our parents’ house.
0:04:47 Angelina: So, how did you get through all the hard times when you felt like you didn't have a moment to practice, or the practice was getting too much and coming in the way of certain academics or time with your family and friends?
0:05:00 Ebbe: I think you can always find time, of course it's sometimes tough to study, but you will always find a time to do something else and it's very important that you do something else other than just studying. Of course, I didn't have time to lay on the couch and watch movies, or whatever, so it was really efficient; either I was studying, or I was playing football. Even if I was tired before I went to the club, that's also what I like with football, even if you're tired before you're actually doing sport, you can feel fresh afterwards and be ready for your homework. It was tough to study as a building engineer for three and a half years and also to practice football like five times a week just training, and then we had the games on the weekend, so yeah, you have to be very efficient and control your time perfectly in order to achieve both.
0:06:05 Alex: So, did you have any other hobbies other than playing football?
0:06:08 Ebbe: When I was when I was young, I was also playing some badminton, volleyball, I tried handball as well. I really liked to do a lot of sport, but if you want to become a professional player, you have to choose, you have to choose one direction, and I think when I was 14, 13-14, I was only playing football, all my time.
0:06:32 Angelina: You made World Cup history for the fastest sub to score goal, what did that change for you after you did that?
0:06:39 Ebbe: Yeah, that moment, that was incredible, actually, it was my first goal ever for the Danish national team. I scored a lot of goals of course for my former club Brøndby, and it was my second game for the Danish national team and to score a goal like this it was unbelievable. Someone told me, if you are trying to find, go for, that feeling later in your career, you will never find that again. It is incredible to score goals like this, and I will never forget that goal.
0:07:11 Alex: Yeah, I watched the video of the goal actually because I wasn't born in 1998. It was an amazing little trip right, and then you just hit the bottom left.
0:07:21 Ebbe: Yeah, it was fantastic, so you liked it?
0:07:23 Alex: Yeah, I like the goal, great finish. I've also, I've researched that you've been playing for FC Schalke after playing in Denmark, and you were also the top scorer in 2002 to 2003 in FC Schalke. So, what made you the top scorer in the Bundesliga? How much training and how much effort did you put into becoming the top scorer?
0:07:49 Ebbe: Yeah, for me it's always, it was, and it's still very important, to always push myself, to watch new goals, new limits and never be satisfied. Of course, you should enjoy the journey and the process and the results, but you should always look ahead, always look for new goals in your life and that's why I reached some big goals, because I was always pushing myself, actually, maybe even too much, but that's how you will create the big results. But it's also important that you are in the right environment, of course, so even that it's from the beginning, it will be very hard, but that's how you develop your skills, that's when you are pushing yourself, when you are trying, you start being, yeah, being at a higher level than you actually are at this moment, but this is how other people can help you reach even higher goals and maybe you don't even expect it yourself.
0:08:53 Alex: You talked about how much skill matters in the football match, but how big a role do you think creativity plays in the football match?
0:09:02 Ebbe: That's also very important. To score a goal you have to be ahead of the defending players, so sometimes you need to take a chance, and you also need to know what your teammates is doing actually even before he is doing it, so it's a lot about creativity, it's a lot about teamwork, it's a lot about knowing each other really well.
0:09:23 Alex: How can we use sports to make, especially young people, more creative?
0:09:28 Ebbe: You are learning that to be creative, also when you are doing sport, and to understand each other, because when you are playing for 60,000 spectators, you cannot hear, you can shout and whatever, but you cannot hear each other. SO, you have to get the same idea at the same time, and this is about creativity and then you will have you learn this step by step, when you are a part of a team and this is about tactical skills, but even when you are spending hundreds of hours learning the technical skills, it will always look a little bit different on the pitch. That's why all good players, they can, okay they can think, of course, and make their own decisions accordingly to the game, and maybe it's not totally the same skills you need, but the creativity, for sure, you can you can learn about that being a part of a team.
0:10:22 Angelina: As a footballer, you must find physical education a really important thing and recently that's been a topic that's debated about on whether it should be present in school less, more, or even at all. So, what do you think about that? Should that be pushed more in school?
0:10:40 Ebbe: For sure, I think sport is very important and I also mentioned it helps you, you cannot study for fifteen hours a day in a row, you need to have a break, but instead of laying on the couch, not moving, you should do some physical sports. You can also see a lot of studies about that, and it helps you, so for sure you have to find the right balance. Of course, first of all, education is the most important thing, but again it's not like, okay, I have to do education or I have to do sport, of course you can do both, so for me you should put as much sport as possible within the curriculum.
0:11:23 Alex: Do you feel pressured when you play for like FC Schalke, like in the Bundesliga, with so many audience members watching you? And if you do feel pressured, how do you cope with that?
0:11:34 Ebbe: You have to get used to it, I mean, the first time when I was playing in one, our first game against, it was, against FC Copenhagen with 40,000 people, and first time you are playing where you have 40,000 spectators, of course, you know, your legs are shaking a little bit, you have to get used to it. But it's again, like okay, I was never at this scene before, but when you are pushing yourself, you're challenging yourself, of course then you'll find out, actually, you can do it. Then after one game, two games, and at the end, for me, I prefer to play for a hundred thousand instead of only hundred people. But like all other skills in your life, you have to practice, you have to get used to it, and then step by step you will really enjoy it.
0:12:25 Angelina: Do you think that being part of a big team, and being a famous footballer, do you think that that has helped you in life when it comes to social skills, and communicative skills, when it comes to it in real life?
0:12:37 Ebbe: Yeah, sure, this can help you in many parts of your life, and especially the social skills. Also, when I was studying and playing football, you really need to control your time, you need to be very structured, so of course this is also a skill. And then what you're also learning, being a part of a team, is that we are all different so it's very important that we do understand each other, and then that we respect each other as a role in the team because everybody is needed, even if we have different skills.
0:13:15 Alex: Yes, so the manager is obviously also a part of the team, and he's normally the person responsible for setting the tactics of a game. So, how do you think tactics have changed throughout time?
0:13:26 Ebbe: The tactical part of the game was is still very important because that's how you can be ahead of your opponent and without tactics you just have eleven people just running right and left. So, the tactical part of the game is very important within the team so that everybody understands what to do and when. When you have the ball, or against the ball, but it's also important, the tactical part, knowing what the opponent is going to do.
0:13:58 Alex: So other than your fastest goal as a substitute in the World Cup, which are the moments in your football career do you think you are the proudest of?
0:14:07 Ebbe: Oh, I won some titles also with my teammates, we won the Danish championship three times with Brøndby, the league cup with Schalke twice, and what I'm really proud of, of course, is also individually I was announced as the best player of the year in 1998 and in 2001 in Denmark. This is, of course, something which made me very proud because you have a lot of players, so to be that the best within one full season that was, that was really amazing.
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0:14:51 Alex: So, how did it feel for you, when it finally came to when you had to retire? Was that really hard for you?
0:14:57 Ebbe: So, I retired back in Schalke in 2006, and I had like one year time to think about, ok after the next season I'll be done, but that being said, the first month, the first two months, it was easy but then after three, four or five months, I have to say I was missing the game a lot. Not only the big moments, scoring a goal in the last minute or whatever, but also the daily life being a professional football player. Going to the club, being a part of a team, being together with all the teammates, but that being said I had a fantastic time. It's, of course, a strange kind of business that you are retiring when you are only 34 years old, but the positive thing about this is that there so many other possibilities in order to do something else in your life.
0:15:55 Alex: After retirement, did you still play football with your friends and everything, in your free time?
0:16:01 Ebbe: Yeah, and I'm still playing! That's what makes this game really lovely, even that I'm 47 now, I can still play, not as a professional obviously, but still like a seven a side game or even an eleven a side game, but, you know, just for fun.
0:16:17 Angelina: As you were a player, do you ever have a certain impulse, like you wish you were back on the field when you watch or you wish you could play, like when you see others play? Does it, kind of, spark that back in you?
0:16:27 Ebbe: Yeah, for sure, for sure. The first couple of months, even couple of years, sometimes I had that feeling and, even when I was working for the Danish national team, and for sure, just before the game I was on the pitch in this fantastic stadium where were we played, so sometimes I also told my players, yeah, I wish I was 25 again just one more time. But no, again, I played so many games, and I had my time, so it's more like a funny thing but sometimes of course, ah yeah, this is, this is amazing.
0:17:07 Alex: But when you watch football, do you ever think in your mind, “Oh, I could have scored that goal, how did he miss that?” because you are a professional footballer?
0:17:17 Ebbe: Yeah, but maybe some other guy could have told me exactly the same when I was missing a couple of chances.
0:17:27 Alex: Who do you think is the most favourable team to win the Euro 2020 this year?
0:17:32 Ebbe: I think Spain is always one of my favourites with their fantastic team, and I also know Germany is a very good team for creating great results at all the tournaments, but you have, of course, you have Italy. They won all their games ten times in a row, and you know they were not qualified for the world cup, so they would be really keen to create great results, so it could be one of those three teams.
0:18:02 Alex: Do you think that football has changed over time, because the German striker Klose has talked about how back in his time, football was just about scoring goals and just enjoying it, but nowadays, money seems to be a more important factor. Do you have any comments on that?
0:18:19 Ebbe: It's for sure getting more and more commercial, more and more money is going into the business. I know also, all the Danish national players, of course, like to earn a lot of money, but they are not thinking about that a lot. It's about your passion it's about doing everything in order to create great results. Sometimes it's crazy money, even compared to when I was playing, I was also earning good money, but I think it's 3-4 times more compared to two but just for 10-15 years ago. But it's commercial, it's about television money, and more and more people can achieve a fortune from football, and football is a sport, number one, so it's getting more and more money into the business, but it always has to be the passion for the sport which is string you towards your goals.
0:19:19 Alex: So, do you think that talent matters, or hard work matters more?
0:19:24 Ebbe: Both, normally from for me the most important thing is the hard work because I have seen a lot of players talented football players but they were not achieving a great results because, yes, sometimes it hurts, sometimes you will not play the game, sometimes saying the coach is he doesn't want you to give you the chance. It's all about you push yourself and always do your best. This is also why I achieve my goals because I was always giving everything in trying to achieve the results. The mental part, sometimes, when I have a speech, something I'm saying is, yes 75% of achieving great sports result is about your mental strength. It's about having the willingness to do everything what you can do in order to create the great results.
0:20:21 Angelina: I think that when people think of hard work when it comes to sports, they usually think of it being during the game, or training before. Was there anything that was a bit more hard to do, when it came physically and mentally, for example, having a constricted diet. Was there anything that you had to do when it came to that?
0:20:41 Ebbe: It's getting more and more important, at that time we've also very focused on the food, but now, because you have to you try to improve everything, so that part is of course very important that you are sleeping well in the night from 11-12 o'clock, and not going to bed at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. in the morning, and obviously the food is very important.
0:21:06 Angelina: So, speaking about the balanced diet, were there any situations where you are at a party or a certain area where you had to deny eating a certain food to keep your body at the state that it is?
0:21:19 Ebbe: Not about the food, I was always eating healthy, it's not like when you're eating healthy all the time, you cannot have one burger, but you can’t eat burgers every day. Obviously, you cannot go partying Friday, Saturday, every weekend, and of course it's a totally no go to go out before a game. So, you have to be very professional in that way because it's the physical skills, it's about your body, so of course you cannot achieve great results if you are not healthy.
0:21:53 Alex: So, I've heard that you're now teaching kids. Are you teaching them about football or something else?
0:22:00 Ebbe: Yeah, it's about football but it's also about the mentality, what it takes to be a part of a team, to be a good teammate, but it depends on what kind of player we are discussing. I'm also working with the big players, professional players in Denmark, but it's the same skills that you need in order to make it, but obviously it's about hard work, it's about pushing yourself, I'm good, but that being said, is it possible to be even better? So that's what I mean with pushing yourself not to be satisfied.
0:22:41 Alex: Mr. Sand, it has been really great to speak with you. Unfortunately, that's all the time we have for this episode. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts as our guest.
0:22:50 Ebbe: Thank you for the great questions, you will for sure get a big career as a sports journalist or whatever. It’s very important when you're this kind of ping-pong, so not only the questions you had on your paper, you're also listening, that's very important, and from what I'm saying you're giving me new questions, that was really good.
0:23:14 Angelina: Thank you.
0:23:16 Ebbe: Yeah, no problem. Thank you.
0:23:18 Alex: Before we sign off, thanks to everyone for listening, we hope you've enjoyed this episode. If you want a little bit more genius, subscribe to this podcast.
0:23:27 Angelina: Once again this podcast is brought to you by Nord Anglia Education students. If you want to learn more about Nord Anglia Education, you can visit us online at www.nordangliaeducation.com. We’ll be back again soon, so thanks again for listening and have a great day, goodbye.