Inside Track 2014: World number three Niels-Kristian Iversen’s weekly look inside the Norfolk Arena
09:28 24 June 2014
I love the World Cup, but I’ll admit Denmark not making it to Brazil has taken a bit of the excitement out of it for me.
I love football and it’s such a great event. Even though I’ve been too busy so far to watch any of the games in full I’ve kept up to date with what’s been going on. Normally I get even more into it when it gets to the quarter-finals and beyond. Then it’s even more tense.
It is harder to get into it when your country isn’t involved. I was disappointed when we didn’t make it, I always am when we don’t do well at football. I’m rooting for England now. But it is hard for Denmark because we’re such a small country. We haven’t got a lot of players.
I feel we belong in the big tournaments though. We usually make the Euros and the World Cup and if I’m honest I expect us to be there. I think most Danes do.
I was 10 when we won Euro 92. I remember it well. It was massive. We beat Germany 2-0 in the final and I can still name all of the players. They’re forever going to be legends. It was a huge thing for Denmark. When I was young those players were mine and so many people’s heroes.
Peter Schmeichel was the main goalkeeper in the world for me, we had the Laudrup brothers, Michael and Brian. But the team wasn’t made up of big individuals. They were a team. They were a bunch of lads who came in as a substitute for Yugoslavia and went on to win it. It was fascinating.
I’ve won the World Cup three times with Denmark, but that success is a big difference to when the country does well in football. When we won the Euros the whole country was ecstatic.
It would be even bigger if we won a World Cup. It doesn’t go like that for speedway. And that’s because football is the biggest sport in the world. Everyone can play it, whether you’re rich or poor. It’s truly global.
I love representing my country at the World Cup and I have already started thinking about the summer’s event. It’s always a special time when you do that week with Denmark.
I’ve done every meeting since 2003 and I’m always proud to represent my country. When I win, it’s great. Coming second isn’t exciting now. I remember the ones we’ve won, but I couldn’t tell you about the other ones.
I wouldn’t say I’m jealous of how big the football World Cup is compared to our speedway one. It’s quite nice as it is. I’d prefer it to be that way. Someone like Wayne Rooney can’t do anything. When he does it’s on the front pages. When he does something wrong everybody is on his back. It must be tough.
I’m quite happy that it’s not that extreme in speedway. If you take a step on the wrong foot people don’t tend to really notice.
For me I’m not that keen on being in the media. I have to do it, I don’t mind doing a little bit, but I wouldn’t want the exposure that someone like Rooney or the England players get.
‘I’m already thinking about 2015’
I moved into the top eight of this year’s Speedway Grand Prix standings at the weekend which – if I ended there – would see me automatically qualify for 2015 series.
I’m performing in the leagues across Europe every week and I’m at the top end of the averages. It would be a shame if I didn’t make the top eight, but if I finished ninth I think I’d deserve a wild card. If they want the consistent riders in the GPs I’d like to think I’d make it. Hopefully I won’t need a wild card though.
I’ve won the GP Challenge (qualification process for those not in the top eight) twice and come third so I think I’ve done it enough. If I couldn’t make 2015 without having to qualify maybe I’d think it was time for me to focus on my league racing.
I just need to keep being consistent and if I can I can’t see why I won’t finish in the top eight. Saturday’s meeting in Sweden (Malilla) was great. The track was just awesome and there was some brilliant racing. I had really good speed and I was going hard for it. I won three races, like Prague. I’m starting to feel like I did in the second half of last year. If I can keep it up hopefully I can start making some finals, maybe some podiums and perhaps even win a GP.
Niels-Kristian Iversen was talking to Gavin Caney.
* To read Niels’ exclusive weekly column first, and in print – plus an update on Rory Schlein’s ‘Shave the Roo’ charity challenge, buy Wednesday’s paper. Visit www.edp24.co.uk/sport/kings-lynn-stars for an archive of Iversen’s articles.