When Dennis Rommedahl signed for Charlton in 2004 following the club’s best ever Premier League finish, expectations were high.
The winger had spent the last seven years with PSV, but made his first move abroad for the Addicks – who had finished seventh in the Premier League the season before – but despite the hype he was more of a cult hero in the end.
Signing on a four-year-deal for £2million, Charlton fans were excited to welcome the winger known for his incredible speed and four Eredivisie wins with PSV.
He had also starred on the international stage, famously scoring against France in the World Cup in 2002 to dump the then reigning champions out.
Pictured with his arms around the shoulders of Rommedahl, legendary Addicks boss Alan Curblishley believed his new signing would help his side push above last season’s incredible campaign.
“With this guy we can go to the next level,” he told the media.
To his credit, the Dane did routinely skin full-backs during his time in the Premier League, all of which was a testament to his phenomenal speed.
However, he ended up not quite living up to the expectation and became a source of frustration for Addicks fans.
But whilst he failed to be consistent with his talent, he also delivered some real moments of brilliance during his time at The Valley, earning him his cult hero status.
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There was a rumour floating round that Rommedahl had supposedly run the 100m in 10.2 seconds, however he’s since denied this being the case.
“I think the fastest time for a Danish 100 metres runner is 10.36, so if I ran 10.2 I would be in the Olympics,” he said.
Regardless he was still rapid.
“The fastest player I’ve ever played with,” former teammate Darren Bent told talkSPORT. “Easily.”
Another Charlton teammate, Darren Ambrose, recently recalled his own sprint was the equivalent to a jog for Rommedahl.
However, his ball skill wasn’t quite as good, and there were many occasions when he made an incredible run, only for his cross to end up on the top of the net or in row Z in the Covered End.
In his first season at The Valley, Rommedahl spent a lot of his first season on the bench despite the big hype around his arrival.
But it turns out the Dane wasn’t your conventional kind of substitute.
In talkSPORT host Adrian Durham’s book ‘Is He All That?: Great Footballing Myths Shattered’, former Addicks midfielder Matt Holland revealed a bizarre story about his ex-teammate’s time on the bench.
“It’s always disappointing to be left [on the bench] knowing you might not get on, but you have to be ready” he explained. “I sat on a bench once next to Dennis Rommedahl and he was wearing UGG boots to keep his feet warm. That’s not ideal preparation, is it?”
Cult hero status confirmed
Whilst Rommedahl still had two-and-a-half more years of ups and downs at The Valley ahead of him at the time, the Dane wrote his name in the club’s history books just five months into his first season.
The Addicks faced fierce south London rivals Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, and the game was held at 0-0 after Eagles man Andy Johnson’s penalty had been expertly saved by Dean Kiely.
But as the game entered into stoppage time, Danny Murphy picked Rommedahl out with virtually the last kick of the game, and the Dane sped past Danny Granville to score his first goal for the club, giving his side a 1-0 lead in their rivals’ own backyard.
The travelling Addicks fans sung his name after the full-time whistle and on their way out as they celebrated, but Rommedahl admitted he still wasn’t going to be immune from flack from the fans.
“There will still be criticism,” he said after the game. “I don’t think they will keep their mouths closed now.”
With a lack of consistent game time over his three year spell, Rommedahl was linked with a move elsewhere a number of times.
But in the end he left in the summer of 2007 following Charlton’s relegation, returning to his home country to play for Ajax.
In the end, he scored six goals for the Addicks, which ultimately wasn’t a great return for a winger who held so much promise when he arrived.
Rommedahl did go on to be his country’s second highest capped player with 126 appearances, though, just three behind Peter Schmeichel and six ahead of Manchester United star Christian Eriksen.
But despite the frustrations, Charlton fans will always be grateful for his efforts in helping them stay in the Premier League for three seasons in his 75 appearances for the club.
And of course, they’ll always remind Palace fans about his last minute derby day winner.
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