Kasper Schmeichel says he is coming up against “an idol” in Ryan Giggs when Wales meet Denmark in their potential Nations League decider.
Denmark goalkeeper Schmeichel has known Giggs since he was a child, as his father Peter and the Wales manager were team-mates in the all-conquering Manchester United team of the 1990s.
But Schmeichel will be standing in Giggs’ way in Cardiff on Friday when Wales and Denmark battle for top spot in their group and the prize of Nations League promotion.
“Ryan Giggs is an idol – I don’t think there’s any other words for him,” Schmeichel said at Denmark’s pre-match press conference.
“What he achieved at Manchester United, and what he achieved in football, is unparalleled.
“He’s someone I’ve known since I can remember from my time living in England.
“I watched him countless times at The Cliff (United’s former training ground) with my dad, and he’s someone I’ve admired right through my career.
“If anyone could have a fraction of the career he’s had they would be very happy.
“He’s always been really supportive every time I’ve met him, he’s been nothing but a gentleman.”
Schmeichel could take over the Denmark captaincy at the Cardiff City Stadium, with Sevilla defender Simon Kjaer absent due to a hamstring injury.
But it will be an emotional return for Schmeichel, as it was less than two weeks ago that Leicester played their first game in Cardiff following the death of owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four others in a helicopter accident.
“It’s still very raw and everyone at the club is working hard through it,” Schmeichel said.
“It’s the same (with the national team), everyone has been supportive.
“But it is what it is and just a matter of taking each day at a time.”
Denmark manager Age Hareide refused to name his captain ahead of the game, saying “there is no need to do it now”.
But Hareide was willing to discuss what joining the elite of European football in the Nations League would mean to football in his country.
Victory for either side would see them promoted, while a draw would leave Denmark needing to beat the Republic in their final game at home to take top spot.
“It’s very important to develop the side,” Hareide said.
“To do that we need as good as opposition as possible.
“It’s difficult to play against the best teams because they would rather play each other, so to be among them would be a great possibility for us.
“This is a final. But Wales are a good side who want to play football, and if you let them play they are good.
“We have to be compact defensively as we were when we played them in September (Denmark won 2-0 in Aarhus) and find the space to attack them.”