Ajax and Danish football have a great history together. Christian Eriksen, Nicolai Boilesen and Viktor Fischer currently represent the Scandinavian nation in the Dutch capital, with Lasse Schöne joining next summer. In the past, Ajax housed many Danish greats like Frank Arnesen, Søren Lerby, Michael Laudrup and Jesper Olsen. In total, 21 Danish players have once received their pay-check from Ajax.
In the final year of high school, the educational institution I was enrolled in took part in a student exchange program with a Danish counterpart. For one week, a Danish student stayed at my house, indulging himself in the Dutch culture, food and women. Under my lead, of course. A few weeks later, it was our turn to visit Denmark and I spent one week in my Danish friend’s home. His father, a retired farmer, carried a great interest in Dutch football, and with a Dutchman arriving at his house, his interest was sparked.
On a dark, rainy night, he sat down next to me in their living room sofa and turned on the TV. The news was on, with images of a car factory being displayed on the screen. Then, the sports news came by and I watched more carefully. “You like football, right?” he suddenly asked.”Yes, I do, sir.” “Good, so do I. What’s your favourite Dutch football club?” “Ajax, sir.” “Ah, Ajax! You must be familiar with names like Arnesen, Lerby and Laudrup then?” “Yes, sir, I know about the Danes that have represented our club.” “Good. They were class players, all of them, but Arnesen was my favourite. Tell me, boy, who’s your favourite Danish player?” “Ole Tobiasen, sir.” “Who?” “Ole Tobiasen, sir.”
Ole Tobiasen arrived at Ajax in 1997, under the managerial reign of Morten Olsen. With his imposing build and good pace, he had impressed for Heerenveen and he quickly got his chance in the starting eleven as a right full-back. With some quality displays, including a brace versus FC Utrecht, Tobiasen caught the imagination of the fans and Olsen thought he had picked up a future world-class defender. Touted to have pace, strength, dribbling ability, a good shot and, above all, a sublime mentality, the Danish full-back had every ingredient to become an Ajax legend. But then, injury struck.
In a game against Fortuna Sittard, in November 1997, Tobiasen suffered a knee injury and was on the sidelines till July 1998. November 1998, the young defender picked up another injury and didn’t play a single game for Ajax any more because of recurring knee issues. During his recovery time, he was often found in the stands to support “his” club, Ajax. Eventually, Ole Tobiasen left Ajax in 2002, after his contract ran out, and the Danish defender ended up playing for AZ, FC Kopenhagen, AaB, Sandefjord and MVV.
Ole Tobiasen could have been one of the world’s best right full-backs, but his career was sadly marred by recurring knee injuries. Yet he never gave up. He always kept working hard, fighting through every set-back to return even stronger. And that’s why he is my favourite Danish player to have ever worn the Ajax-jersey. Tobiasen is an example to any young, talented player that happens to pick up an injury in their career, showing that with hard work you can overcome anything.
The forgotten Dane remembered.