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New Sportsmail columnist Brian Laudrup is ready to give his hard-hitting views on the beautiful game

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new sportsmail columnist brian laudrup is ready to give his hard hitting views on the beautiful game

The ascension of a footballing prince was never a regal progression. To watch Brian Laudrup hover over muddied pitches or glide past belligerent defenders in the mayhem and magnificence of Scottish football of the 1990s was an invitation to view him as someone who was merely franking his birthright or indulging effortlessly in his talent.

The truth, though, is different. It trembles with chilled afternoons, shivers under heavy tackles, is wearied by the burden of heavy expectation and is marked by an afternoon when the future winner of the Champions League and European Championships decided at 15 he did not want to play any more.

Tribulation, too, has been a dogged companion for Laudrup. A player of consummate skill and an accumulator of silverware in Denmark, Germany, Italy and Scotland, he was forced prematurely into retirement. He subsequently faced a battle with cancer. ‘I have been fine for many years,’ he says, a decade after the diagnosis.

New Sportsmail columnist Brian Laudrup is ready to give his views on the beautiful game

New Sportsmail columnist Brian Laudrup is ready to give his views on the beautiful game

New Sportsmail columnist Brian Laudrup is ready to give his views on the beautiful game

He has thus enjoyed the warm glow of triumph but this has been made more satisfying by the acceptance that there have been the moments when his will was tested to the ultimate but stayed strong in turbulent, buffeting episodes. It has imbued him with the ability to reflect both with gratitude and insight.

Laudrup, now 51, is mercifully fit, retains his breezy articulacy and is candid on a career that encompassed Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Chelsea and others. He was born to be a footballer, with his father, Finn, a Danish international, and his brother, Michael, one of the greatest players of his generation. Brian, the footballing prince, was crowned at Ibrox but not after banishing demons.

He found redemption and purpose on the banks of Loch Lomond on a drive with Walter Smith, the Rangers manager. But he had found his strength earlier in carrying and then shrugging off the hopes and demands of others.

‘I struggled a bit when I was younger,’ he says. He took his earliest steps in football in the freezing conditions of a wintry Copenhagen with friends, scuttling out on to the streets, inspired by English football and the play of Liverpool winger Steve Heighway.

Laudrup enjoyed an illustrious career, which included him winning Euro 92 with Denmark

Laudrup enjoyed an illustrious career, which included him winning Euro 92 with Denmark

Laudrup enjoyed an illustrious career, which included him winning Euro 92 with Denmark

Born in Vienna where his father was playing, he returned to Denmark as a toddler and joined Brondby at six. He was identified immediately as something special. At 15, though, he walked away from the sport.

He adds: ‘Football is about having fun, expressing yourself but I got slagged and kicked in every game. One day, I had enough. I said to myself: “I am quitting”. I told my parents and they said: “Okay, It’s up to you. You should do what you want with your life”.

‘I stayed away from football for two weeks. But it was impossible to stay away for longer, I love football. Those two weeks made me realise that I had to accept I was born into this family. I had to live with this name. I had to live with the expectations. That’s what I did and I never looked back.’

Michael, five years older, had already proved his worth. He was to play with, among others, Lazio, Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Ajax. Brian was to follow that tour of the continent, but not without his trials.

‘Early on, people would say: “Oh Brian could be even better than Michael”. I think that at the age of ten or 11 that’s a tough thing to ask,’ he says. ‘It was very heavy for me. I have to admit. When you are very young and maybe a bit insecure of yourself, and you are compared to your father and your brother, it can be devastating at times.

Laudrup in action for Copenhagen against his old side Brondby, where he started his career

Laudrup in action for Copenhagen against his old side Brondby, where he started his career

Laudrup in action for Copenhagen against his old side Brondby, where he started his career 

Brian Laudrup says that he struggled with the constant comparisons to his brother Michael

Brian Laudrup says that he struggled with the constant comparisons to his brother Michael

Brian Laudrup says that he struggled with the constant comparisons to his brother Michael

‘I remember when I was a kid playing for my local club people would recognise me and say: “That’s Brian Laudrup”. Sometimes in Denmark people like to slag you off a bit and say: “He’s not as good as his brother”. Or at other times: “Oh my God, he’s a huge talent”. So I had to live with that attention. I didn’t like it. But I had to live with it.

‘That was the toughest football school I could go through. I had to try to be as good as I could be.’

He succeeded. His brief teenage retirement was followed by spectacular performances for Brondby that made a move upwards inevitable. He chose German football with Bayer Uerdingen before graduating to Bayern Munich. Italian football followed with spells at Fiorentina and AC Milan. He has a Champions League medal for the victory over Barcelona in 1994.

‘The three-foreigner rule in play then restricted me,’ he says. Milan’s foreigners in the 4-0 win were Marcel Desailly, Zvonimir Boban and Dejan Savicevic.

Brian sat in the stand, 50 yards from Michael. The older brother had been left out by Barcelona to accommodate ‘foreigners’ Ronald Koeman, Hristo Stoichkov and Romario. ‘I waved over to him and it was a strange moment to be part of. But that is what life throws at you,’ says Laudrup.

Laudrup represented various famous clubs including Ajax, Bayern Munich and AC Milan

Laudrup represented various famous clubs including Ajax, Bayern Munich and AC Milan

Laudrup represented various famous clubs including Ajax, Bayern Munich and AC Milan

However, he admits: ‘I was searching for a place on and off the pitch, that right combination.

‘That was something I found in Scotland. But going through some great clubs, I discovered the right mentality, it’s all about winning. I learned that.

‘That set me up beautifully for the challenge I faced in Scotland. You must win. That is the expectation.

‘I chose my own path. That was important for me.’

This path wound around the banks of Loch Lomond in the summer of 1994. ‘That comes to my mind as if it was yesterday,’ he says. ‘I had the sense when I went into Walter’s car that this could be the turning point for me.

‘He told me about Rangers, about his ideas, about what he thought about my position. He would give me the freedom to play. I would be a very important player. He said people would expect an awful lot from me but he was sure I would be able to live up to that.’

That faith was gilded by three league titles, a Scottish Cup and a League Cup at Rangers under Smith. Laudrup adds: ‘I had been drawn towards Italy because that was the best league then. I wanted to show myself — and maybe other people as well — that Michael’s younger brother Brian could play good stuff as well. I came as a European champion (Denmark had won the 1992 tournament) but I played a right-midfield position I had not played before. I realised that Italy was more about tactics than players.

Laudrup enjoyed his time in Scotland, where he played for Rangers between 1994 and 1998

Laudrup enjoyed his time in Scotland, where he played for Rangers between 1994 and 1998

Laudrup enjoyed his time in Scotland, where he played for Rangers between 1994 and 1998

‘I was just one of many, many good players. You don’t know how many games you are going to play in a season and you lose that feeling of being important.’

But Scotland was different.

‘I had the feeling immediately I would be regarded as one of the most important players,’ he says.

‘I never had any problems with that. Others players might crumble but when I was on the ball I thought: “Okay Brian, you have to produce something”. I was okay with that because that was what I was good at.’

The chat with Smith left him with one thought: “I knew this was going to be the best move I could make.”

But what led him to that tour around Loch Lomond? ‘Kai Johansen,’ he says. The former Rangers full-back called his fellow Danish international, Finn, and the message was relayed that Brian was wanted at Ibrox.

Given his fierce winning mentality, Laudrup proved to be the perfect fit for Rangers

Given his fierce winning mentality, Laudrup proved to be the perfect fit for Rangers

Given his fierce winning mentality, Laudrup proved to be the perfect fit for Rangers

‘I had watched Rangers in the Champions League, I had watched Richard Gough bleeding from his forehead, I had watched the team being roared on through the pouring rain and I thought: “Oh my God, that’s the sort of football for me”,’ he reveals.

His four seasons at Rangers installed him inarguably as a club great. The spell may have been relatively brief but it was heavily significant, wondrously memorable. ‘I am so a part of Glasgow, a part of Rangers,’ he says. ‘It will stay with me and my family for ever. It is an incredible bond.’

BRIAN LAUDRUP’S CAREER 

1986-1989: Brondby

1989-1990: Bayer Uerdingen

1990-1992: Bayern Munich

1992-1993: Fiorentina

1993-1994: AC Milan (loan)

1994-1998: Rangers

1998: Chelsea

1998-1999: Copenhagen 

1999-2000: Ajax 

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The feeling has been reciprocated. ‘I was in Amsterdam with friends, studying Ajax coaching methods,’ says Laudrup of the winter of 2004, four years after his retirement as a player. ‘We were walking down the street after dinner and I saw a group of about 100 Rangers fans.’

Laudrup was surprised at the sight until he realised they were in the Netherlands for a UEFA Cup tie against AZ Alkmaar.

His next reaction was delight: ‘The fans were singing and dancing their way towards me. Then they saw who I was and started singing: “There’s only one Brian Laudrup”.

‘It was something. It came out of the blue. I was laughing. It was hard to explain fully to my friends but it made me realise that I may left have left the club and country but they had not forgotten me.’

One memory, of course, is enshrined in the collective consciousness of the Rangers support. On May 7, 1997, Rangers beat Dundee United at Tannadice to achieve nine titles in a row. The only goal of the match was scored by Laudrup.

‘It was meant to be,’ he says with a laugh. ‘I scored with a header from a left-footed Charlie Miller cross. Those were two things that never happened. I maybe scored a header twice in my career. It was a fairy tale.’

Reality, though, had a subsequent, savage bite. Spells at Chelsea and Ajax were blighted with injury and a fine career came to an end. Worse followed.

Laudrup said being 'confronted' by cancer was 'very scary' after his diagnosis ten years ago

Laudrup said being 'confronted' by cancer was 'very scary' after his diagnosis ten years ago

Laudrup said being ‘confronted’ by cancer was ‘very scary’ after his diagnosis ten years ago

‘It was devastating,’ says Laudrup of his cancer diagnosis ten years ago. ‘But I go for a scan next month and if that is okay, they will let me go. Fingers crossed.’

Now working as a television pundit and helping to coach disadvantaged kids, Laudrup knows he has so many blessings in life but he does not shrink from the reality of cancer, saying: ‘To be confronted with that illness is very scary. I never saw it coming, but you never do. All of a sudden you are in the midst of it. You have to confront it head on.

‘I was lucky that nowadays treatment is so effective and I have been fine for many years.

‘But any person who has been diagnosed with cancer will tell you it is tough to wait for a scan.

‘As it approaches, you are thinking about it. I have been fortunate to hopefully see the back of it. It was something in my life but hopefully it has gone.’

He adds: ‘It is not always about winning trophies or enjoying yourself. Life has up and downs. Sometimes you go through very difficult patches and sometimes it is a breeze. The good moments make you realise it wasn’t always like this.’

In 1998, Laudrup had a short spell in England at Chelsea which was blighted by injury

In 1998, Laudrup had a short spell in England at Chelsea which was blighted by injury

In 1998, Laudrup had a short spell in England at Chelsea which was blighted by injury

The future, though, offers substantial promise. Laudrup eagerly awaits the resumption of European football in his role as a television analyst.

He is keen, too, to take up his role as Sportsmail columnist.

‘I keep an eye on the SPFL every day through television and the internet,’ he says. ‘I know the issues and the personalities.’

His understanding, though, of Scottish football is also deeply personal. ‘I was born with a talent, obviously, but you need to understand that must go along with hard work and the right mentality,’ he says.

‘I believe all that was there at Rangers. It was just right for me.’

The boy who played in the Copenhagen streets, prospered in the Bundesliga, strove in Serie A and won the biggest honours in European football.

But he found something else in Scotland. It is a mixture of fulfilment, eternal affection from Rangers supporters and a respect that blurs partisan boundaries. It’s good to have him back.

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UFC release Roman Bogatov after just ONE fight following disastrous showing and three point deduction on Fight Island

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ufc release roman bogatov after just one fight following disastrous showing and three point deduction on fight island scaled

THE UFC have released Roman Bogatov after just ONE fight following his disastrous Fight Island showing.

The Kazakhstani lightweight made his UFC debut on July 11 but a flurry of illegal shots mean it is likely to be his last bout.

The UFC have released Roman Bogatov after just ONE fight

1

The UFC have released Roman Bogatov after just ONE fight

Big things were expected of the 29-year-old as he joined the franchise with an impressive 10-0 record.

But he came unstuck against wily veteran Leonardo Santos at UFC 251 after a strong early showing.

Bogatov ended up losing after judges unanimously scored the bout 29-26 in Santos’ favour.


RINGSIDE NEWS LIVE: Click here for all the latest Boxing, UFC and WWE updates


However, it was the nature of the defeat that has seen him booted out of the UFC.

Bogatov poked Santos’ eye in the first round.

And in the third, ref Marc Goddard stopped the bout after Bogatov hit Santos with two low blows and then proceeded to knee him in the head when Santos was kneeling against the cage.

Goddard was heard shouting: “Woah stop… what are you doing?”

Bogatov was hit with a two-point deduction as a result and he registered his first professional loss.

The scrapper then confirmed his ejection in a statement to a Russian news agency but said he was not given a reason.

He told TASS: “Yes, they told me today they had terminated the contract.”

Speculation has also emerged suggesting the cancellation may also relate to an alleged Nazi tattoo spotted on Bogatov’s corner man Aleksey Kiser.

Kiser defended the picture that appeared to show a ‘Sonnenrad’ or ‘Black Sun’ and claimed: “It has another meaning, for me as a Slavic person.”

Paige VanZant shows off bum again in tiny pink bikini as ex-UFC star launches herself into pool while on holiday

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Premier League DISQUALIFY Bulgarian winner of their Fantasy Football game over a mystery rule break

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premier league disqualify bulgarian winner of their fantasy football game over a mystery rule break

The Premier League have sensationally disqualified the original winner of their 2019-20 Fantasy game for a mystery breach of the rules. 

Bulgarian player Aleksandar Antonov, who has a YouTube channel on Fantasy football called TooGoodFPL, was announced as the winner following the final round of Premier League games on July 26, finishing 18 points clear of second-placed Joshua Bull. 

However, the Premier League confirmed on Tuesday morning that Antonov has ‘been removed from FPL due to a breach of our terms’, with the Bulgarian tweeting that he would let people know why he was removed in a video this evening on his YouTube channel. 

Aleksandar Antonov had originally been named as the winner following the final round of games last month

However, the original winner's team simply showed as deleted after the update to the standings

Aleksandar Antonov has been disqualified from Fantasy Premier League on Tuesday morning

It means cancer researcher Joshua Bull has won the popular game for the 2019-20 season

It means cancer researcher Joshua Bull has won the popular game for the 2019-20 season

FPL 1ST PLACE PRIZES 

  • 7-night break in the UK including VIP hospitality at two 2020/21 Premier League matches
  • A week’s worth of experiences at popular tourist attractions courtesy of Visit Britain
  • Includes travel and 7 nights’ accommodation
  • TAG Heuer connected watch
  • Copy of FIFA 20 and a games console
  • Nike manager jacket
  • FPL goody bag consisting of a rucksack, t-shirt, mug, water bottle, stress ball, pen, pad and key ring

NB: Prizes were announced before the coronavirus outbreak

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In response to query on social media as to whether he had multiple teams, Antonov said: ‘This is an easy one – no, I did not try to cheat in a game I play for fun. 

‘For more, tune in tonight, have a dayjob after all.

‘Joshua Bull, congrats (sic) on the win. Not the way you wanted to win it, not the way I wanted to lose it.’ 

Sportsmail contacted the Premier League for clarification on why the original winner was removed from the game, but did not elaborate on Tuesday morning’s statement

‘Following end-of-season checks, final standings have been updated within the game, leaving Southampton fan Joshua and his team ‘The Bulldozers’ top of the table,’ the statement read.

‘His score of 68 in Gameweek 38+, in which he played his Wildcard, was enough to hold off the challenge of Chris McGowan’s Aúpa Atleti and Will Turner’s Martial Mata’s LP.’

‘The team formerly occupying the No 1 position has been removed from FPL due to a breach of our terms.’

Bull, an Oxford University cancer researcher, could not hide his shock and excitement at being named as the official winner of Fantasy Premier League 2019-20, played by 7.6 million people.  

‘Wow, so it looks like the longest FPL season is getting even longer…’ he began on his Twitter page. 

New winner Joshua Bull reacted with shock after being announced as this season's champion

New winner Joshua Bull reacted with shock after being announced as this season’s champion

Antonov on the other hand insisted he did not cheat and would reveal all on Tuesday night

Antonov on the other hand insisted he did not cheat and would reveal all on Tuesday night

‘For everyone tweeting, I don’t know what’s going on either – I had an email from FPL this morning telling me that I’ve won(!), but I don’t know why.. 

‘And to address the obvious – clearly this isn’t how I would have wanted to win, and I don’t know any more than the rest of you about what’s happened!’

Rather comically, Bull has also updated his Twitter bio to include: ‘#FPL OR 1? 2? Your guess is as good as mine?’

The updated standings also means World chess champion Magnus Carlsen finishes in the top-10 worldwide, 42 points behind new winner Bull.  

The new standings means World chess champion Magnus Carlsen has finished in the top-10

The new standings means World chess champion Magnus Carlsen has finished in the top-10

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1pm Man Utd transfer news LIVE: Jadon Sancho chase still ON, Koulibaly cut price £63m deal, Coman loan wanted

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1pm man utd transfer news live jadon sancho chase still on koulibaly cut price 63m deal coman loan wanted
sancho coman koulibaly

MANCHESTER UNITED’s chase for Jadon Sancho is STILL on – but they have been left frustrated with the star’s wage demands.

And the Red Devils are reportedly preparing Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman as a backup option should Borussia Dortmund not budge on their £108m asking price.

Follow all the latest transfer updates and gossip from Old Trafford below…

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