We’re back in business after a short vacation. We have our first “real” game in seven days time against Derry City in the Europa League qualification so there’s not been too much time to prepare for the new season. But we don’t mind. Playing games that matters from the beginning beats your typical pre-season any day of the week. 

My vacation was very intense but great. First I was home in Vaasa, Finland for a few days visiting family and friends. Just your typical weekend in Finland. Sauna, drinks and laughter. Then I flew back to Denmark and went to a Justin Bieber concert in Aarhus (please don’t judge me). After that I took my, wait for it, NEW girlfriend on a trip to Italy and Spain. (Yeah I know, I’m just as surprised as you are. Is there actually someone out there who wants to spend time with a guy like me? Even my teammate “Rafa” has said that I must be a difficult person to live with.) Anyway, we spent a total of ten days in Rome, Capri and Barcelona and got to experience a lot during a very short time. I used to be the kind of guy that could lie on a sunbed for 95% of the time but not anymore. Now I’m looking for new experiences.

One funny thing that happened that I want to tell you about was during a restaurant visit on Capri. Italians are famous for their love for football and at the restaurant I yet again got to experience how passionate they are. I don’t know exactly how it began but when the owner found out that I was from Finland he immediately shouted: “Jari Litmanen!!”.

He explained that he had Litmanen’s shirt hanging at home and that Litmanen had also visited the same restaurant many years ago. “Very nice man, very nice.” But the fun started when I told him that I actually used to play with him. He quickly googled my name to check that I wasn’t lying. The lunch that was meant to be just a quiet romantic meal between me and my girlfriend turned in to a cirkus with curious and eccentric Italians.

Most of them were Napoli supporters so when they found out that I play for FC Midtjylland they just laughed and said “5-0”, which was an unpleasant reminder of the trashing we got from Napoli in the Europa League a couple of seasons ago. But they were really friendly and we all had a laugh. I think everyone working at the restaurant that day came by our table and wanted a chat and a photo. This was more because of my relation to Litmanen than anything else. They also gave us a free drink + dessert which was a nice touch. Before leaving the owner gave me his business-card because he really wanted me to send him a FC Midtjylland and Finland shirt, which I’ll do of course.

The vacation was simply just great. Walking around on the beautiful streets in Rome, eating fantastic paella in Barcelona or driving around on a scooter on Capri. Talking to strangers is also something I find really enjoyable. In an organic café in Rome I spent an hour talking to the Italian owner and a flight attendant from Canada about everything from food to politics. In Capri I met four American Donald Trump supporters which was interesting and had me biting my tongue for the best part of our conversation. 

But like you say, home sweet home. I had a good time away from work but when I drove my car in to my parking garage in Silkeborg I was just happy to be home. Happy to get back to work and start preparing for the new season.