TheFA.com's Jamie Bradbury talks to Denmark and Chelsea midfielder Jesper Gronkj
TheFA.com's Jamie Bradbury talks to Denmark and Chelsea midfielder Jesper Gronkjaer ahead of Sunday's match at Old Trafford...
Heathrow welcomes more people than any other airport in Europe and the surrounding Middlesex countryside is the first view of England many visitors are offered.
This year has been no different, but just over the northern perimeter fence of the airport, a surge of new summer arrivals has been the talk of the football world.
Much like a plane-spotter at Heathrow's viewing gallery, a look around Chelsea's Harlington training ground these days will reveal an awesome sight that would satisfy many a football fanatic.
But for Danish forward Jesper Gronkjaer, it's a place of work, and the big names that have appeared through the doors are just new team-mates.
"That's exactly it, they are just names and at the end of the day we have to perform as a team," says Gronkjaer, who is now in his fourth season with the Blues.
"I think all the speculation about playing has been created by the media. The players know that if you can't handle the situation, you have to move on.
"I am happy. I want to win things and it's an opportunity that I don't want to let slip away. I want to be a part of it."
Life at Chelsea's all-stars seems more than a short trip across the North Sea, where Gronkjaer began his football journey. After signing professional forms for Aalborg BK in 1995, his football career soon began to take-off when he started to attract attention from some of Europe's big clubs and eventually joined the current coach of the Danish team, Morten Olsen, in Amsterdam.
"I didn't want to be a footballer," he reveals. "But when I moved to Aalborg I realised I had to train a bit more because I was playing at the higher level.
"I played three years in the Danish league, then interest started coming from abroad. I wasn't sure if I wanted to leave, but was happy to go and living and playing in Ajax was a great experience for me. When I look back, it's still a bright period of my life.
"My game improved a lot. All of a sudden I was living away from my family and friends and only had football. It made me concentrate a bit more and realise what I was doing. It helped me a lot.
"The opportunity then came up to move to England and Chelsea. I looked at the surroundings and I was happy to come here," recalls the 26-year old, "London is special. It's easy to communicate with people here and there are so many nice things to do, you can't be bored."
While at Ajax, Gronkjaer earned his first call-up for the Danish national team for their Euro 2000 qualifier against Italy. And, despite a disappointing showing in the finals in Holland and Belgium when they finished bottom of Group D without scoring a single goal, pulling on the national shirt fills him with pride.
"Playing for your country, playing for your flag is something special, even though it is only sport," he says philosophically.
"You have to remember Denmark has only got five million people, so there are never downs. To be in the European Championships, to be in the World Cup it is amazing. Compared to England for example, they have perhaps ten or fifteen times more players to choose from."
Sunday's match gives Gronkjaer and his team-mates a chance to avenge their World Cup exit at the hands of Sven's men last summer. And with Euro 2004 just around the corner, he feels that an in-form Denmark has as good a chance as anyone.
"Now we've got through the group stages and we're in a tournament it might not be about who's got the best team, but who's in form," he says. "It really doesn't matter what your name is, but the chances are better for the big nations who've got the experience.
"Hopefully the crowd will see an exciting game with teams who want to play attacking football today.
"When we played England in the World Cup it was just not our day so hopefully we will get our revenge this afternoon. It's hard playing in England against the England team in front of a massive crowd but hopefully the Danish people living over here will make some noise for us.
"We are going to try and do a good job and represent Denmark in the best way."
Jesper Gronkjaer was talking to Jamie Bradbury