Denmark international defender Nicolai Boilesen has revealed that the national team will go to the World Cup inspired by the heroics of Sevilla, who recently knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League.
The Spanish side claimed a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford, with national team captain Simon Kjaer at the heart of a defence which played a large part in helping Sevilla book a quarter-final date with Bayern Munich.
Boilesen says that success, along with the ongoing hot form of Christian Eriksen for Tottenham in the Premier League, is inspirational to the national squad as a whole ahead of a World Cup campaign that will pit them against France, Peru and Australia.
“The anatomy of building team spirit and confidence of a national team is pretty fascinating and complex because we don’t work together every day like for our clubs but only a few times a year,” the left-back told Goal.
“We all have this great pride of representing our country, of course, and that is the main driver together with our ambitions.
“But a great thing in a national team is, how the success of individual players merges together in the team spirit, when the players arrive in the camp with a lot of confidence from their clubs.
“I have that feeling myself right now after five league wins in a row with FC Copenhagen, and we all share the success of players like Christian Eriksen, scoring a brace for Tottenham in his latest game and joining the group in a great mood.
“And an even better example right now is our captain Simon Kjaer, who delivered an amazing performance when his team Sevilla knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League last week.
“It is a great thing about team sport, that it surely raises the team spirit, when you share the success of any of the players - and in this case our national team captain.”
Boilesen is a player who thrives on competition, having already claimed multiple titles at Ajax, where he was captain, and Copenhagen.
And after spending 2015-16 in the wilderness as he was frozen out in Amsterdam over a contract dispute, he is particularly eager to shine on the big stage.
“I enjoy feeling this kind of winning mentality in the national team - because that is ‘competition mode’. I was educated for this in Ajax and now experience it with FC Copenhagen; only winning counts, and that mindset works,” he said.
“I can confirm that with a smile on my face after having been part of teams winning four titles with Ajax in the Eredivisie and then the Double in Denmark last season in my first season in Superligaen.”
This week, Denmark will face Panama and Chile in friendly action as their preparations for the World Cup ramp up, and these are clashes that the 26-year-old is relishing.
“We’re all thinking of the World Cup. This is where it begins,” he said, before reflecting on the importance of continuing the national team’s strong form that has seen them enjoy a lengthy undefeated sequence that equals a national record.
“It’s great to feel the confidence within the squad after an extremely long series of good results. We’re unbeaten for 17 months and 11 games, and getting results like that makes you grow as a team. You gain confidence and it helps you in match situations.
“If the other team gets the first goal, you never doubt as a team that you can overcome that and get a good result, because you just have that confidence. This winning mentality will help us perform to our best in the World Cup and hopefully cause a stir.”
Meanwhile, Boilesen has half an eye on his own personal ambitions after a tricky period in his career.
“I had to take a step down to kickstart my career after having been frozen out in Ajax for the last year of my contract as punishment for not extending my deal with the club,” he said.
“Now I enjoy having a lot of responsibility in FC Copenhagen, which considers itself as an international club based in Denmark, but of course my ambition is to go abroad again and to play in one of the biggest leagues.
“I have only just turned 26 and is entering, what is normally the best years of a football career.”
Boilesen is aiming to win his 16th cap for his country, having netted one goal previously.