DANISH football legends and good friends Martin Jørgensen and Stig Tøfting will take opposite approaches to getting fit for a return to action at the Star Sixes tournament taking place in London this summer.
While former Bolton Wanderers midfielder Tøfting is banking on his combative nature making up for his reduced fitness levels, Jørgensen will be tackling the Tour de France’s notorious mountain climbs.
The former Fiorentina midfielder, who won 102 caps for Denmark before retiring two years ago, still plays regular 11-a-side games for Denmark’s veteran side, but Star Sixes, a new tournament for former internationals, will be different.
Other stars taking part in the 12-nation competition at The O2 from 13-16 July include Steven Gerrard, Michael Ballack and Roberto Carlos, so Jørgensen knows he needs to be in peak fitness if Denmark are to have a chance.
And as a keen cyclist, he will be preparing for the tournament by spending five days on the toughest hill climbs of the Tour de France course.
The 41-year-old Dane said: “I stopped playing two years ago but you can quickly lose fitness if you’re not careful. I cycle a lot, and have done mountain climbs in Italy, but this is another level. I will be going out in June and doing some of the toughest climbs on the Tour de France course.”
Jørgensen is looking for revenge against an England side including Emile Heskey and Michael Owen, who scored as Denmark lost 3-0 to Sven-Göran Eriksson’s team in the 2002 World Cup. He has far happier memories of scoring twice in a 3-2 victory at Old Trafford in 2004 and then beating England 4-1 the following year. “Like most players, I only like to remember the victories. I’m still unbeaten at Old Trafford,” he laughs.
Jørgensen is bringing his family to the UK during the tournament and is hoping London’s Danish community will join them in supporting their country against the likes of England, Germany and Brazil.
“It will be a tough competition for us, so we’ll need all the support we can get, and hopefully there will be plenty of Danes at the O2.
“I’m really looking forward to it. Not only will it be a chance to challenge myself against some of the biggest names in football of recent years, it will be great to catch up with some old friends and team-mates.”
One good friend is Tøfting, and Jørgensen joked: “He has grown wider since he retired!”
But Tøfting says his competitive nature will see him through. “I still play once a week, and although I am not in the same shape as I was, I still hate to lose in anything I do. It’s not that I love winning – I simply hate losing, whether it is football, pool or darts.
“Like most ex-professionals, I go out to win every time, and if there is something at stake, I want it.”
Tøfting showed that determination when he briefly took up boxing after retiring from football, winning his only bout. And he is hoping the atmosphere at The O2 will match that of his only previous visit, when Carl Froch beat Danish boxer Mikkel Kessler in 2013. Tøfting said: “The atmosphere at The O2 was magnificent that night. I had goosebumps when the English fans started singing the national anthem.
“If we get anything like that sort of atmosphere for Star Sixes it will be something special.”
And he echoed Jørgensen’s call for UK-based Danes to support their team. “We have to do what we can to get the Danes in London along. We will need their support.”
Make sure you don’t miss the inaugural Star Sixes tournament at The O2, where 12 international teams will go head-to-head from 13-16 July for the first trophy. Get your tickets by visiting Ticketmaster or AXS.