At the age of 33, Nicklas Bendtner has called time on his playing career.
The Dane last kicked a ball in anger at the tail-end of 2019 for FC Copenhagen. He was on the verge of accepting an offer to play in China last year when the pandemic scuppered his plans for a final payday. His focus turned to a revealing autobiography called “Both Sides” where he openly admitted he wasted his potential indulging various vices.
Speaking to Danish station Kanal4 this morning, he said: “It’s over now. I have to find other things that can give me what football has given me all these years.
“Football is such a big part of my life that I cannot imagine stepping away from it, and that’s why I want to complete my coaching badges”
During nine years at Arsenal, “Lord” as he became known, played 171 times, scoring 47 goals and making 22 assists.
Lured to the academy by Arsene Wenger as a 16-year-old, the striker was tipped for the top (often by himself) and fleetingly flirted with greatness but ultimately left the club in 2014, via three loan moves, a frustrated and frustrating figure.
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) June 3, 2021
His goal against Sp*rs in the 2007 north London derby, headed home 1.8 seconds after coming off the bench, remains the quickest scored by a substitute in the Premier League and is undoubtedly the high point of his time at the Emirates.
A spell on the sidelines with a groin injury, sustained in a car crash he was lucky to survive, became a persistent issue and irregular game-time and disciplinary issues eventually took a toll on his form.
He did bag a very decent Champions League hat-trick against Porto in 2010 and a goal in the Nou Camp as Barcelona knocked us out at the quarter-final stage. A year later, he had the opportunity to exact revenge on Messi and co. but with a heavy touch squandered the chance to bag a tie-winning late away goal. Two years on loan followed.
First, he went to Sunderland, where he joined forces with Steve Bruce who’d had him for a season at Birmingham in his formative years, and then he picked up a Scudetto with Juventus even though injury meant he spent most of his time in Turin in the treatment room.
There was still time for a couple more Arsenal goals before he left as a free agent, one year after he’d told Wenger he was a wanker and an arsehole for denying him a transfer deadline day switch to Crystal Palace. Unhappy spells at Wolfsburg and Nottingham Forest were followed by better times with Norwegian side Rosenborg before his return home.
At international level, Bendtner thrived throughout his career, even after leaving London. He loved working with Morten Olsen and scored 30 goals in 81 appearances. Celebrating one of those goals – against Portugal at Euro 2012 – also earned him international recognition for the wrong reasons. FIFA fined him £80,000 and banned him for a match after he pulled down his shorts to reveal a pair of boxer shorts promoting a betting site.
The incident nicely sums up Nicklas’ relationship with football; his talent took him places, his behaviour held him back.
Weirdly, despite all his off-field antics – which later earned him jail time in Denmark – most Arsenal fans can’t help but have a soft spot for the guy.
He might be a tortured soul prone to being a plonker but he’s also lived the dream; scoring a winner against Sp*rs.
Bendtner – the highs and lows
2004 – joins Arsenal Academy
2005 – makes Arsenal debut against Sunderland in League Cup
2007 – makes Premier League debut vs Fulham
2007 – scores winner against Spurs with first touch; his first Premier League goal
2008 – on-field altercation with Emmanuel Adebayor as Arsenal lose to Spurs in the League Cup
2008 – blocks goal-bound Fabregas effort on the line as Arsenal draw 1-1 with Liverpool in the home leg of Champions League quarter-final
2009 – stumbles out of Boujis nightclub with his pants down hours after Arsenal lose Champions League semi-final to Manchester United
2010 – changes number from 26 to 52
2010 – crashes Aston Martin on the A1
2010 – scores Champions League hat-trick vs Porto
2012 – scores brace against Portugal at Euro 2012. Celebrates by revealing bookie-sponsored pants and earns a huge fine from FIFA.
2013 – convicted of drink driving in Copenhagen while on loan at Juventus
2013 – arrested for bashing up swimming pool at his London home
2013 – bust-up with Arsene Wenger after he’s blocked from joining Crystal Palace because Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho won’t sell Demba Ba to a rival
2014 – sports top knot
2014 – scores final goal for Arsenal against Cardiff and injures ankle in the process
2014 – goes AWOL from Arsenal, ends up drinking in Copenhagen and may or may not have rubbed genitals against a taxi
2014 – joins Wolfsburg on a free
2016 – fined by Wolfsburg, who are owned by Volkswagen, for posing with Mercedes
2016 – makes Nottingham Forest debut against Arsenal in League Cup
2017 – joins Norwegian side Rosenborg and scores 35 goals in 86 appearances
2018 – spends 50 days in prison following a conviction for assault on a taxi driver
2019 – signs short-term contract with FC Copenhagen
2020 – appears on the Arsecast