Bendtner Interview With Daily Mail
Bendtner was confident enough to replace that mangled Aston Martin with a brand-spanking new one. ‘It’s parked outside,’ he says with a smile. ‘It’s my dream car and it’s even more special to me now because it saved my life.’
But what was he doing taking off his clothes after climbing from the original £160,000 supercar back in September? ‘The lads here do find that bit funny,’ he says. ‘But I needed to check myself. I could feel pain in my knee and in my stomach, from where I’d had an operation in the past.
‘And I was obviously worried. My body is my livelihood and I was desperate to find out if I was OK. So I took off all my clothes, even my pants, picked up a wing mirror that had come off the car and checked myself over, front and back.’
Bendtner had only just got the pants back on when a man came scrambling down the bank to see if he needed help. ‘He asked me if I was OK and I asked him to call an ambulance,’ he recalls.
‘Then I climbed back into the car to find my phone. First I called my dad, to tell him I’d had an accident but that I was OK. Then I rang the club to say I’d be late for training.’
The accident, which he says happened when he had to take evasive action to avoid hitting a car that had crossed into his lane, did leave him ‘pretty shaken up’.
‘I’m still suffering because of it,’ he says. ‘After a game my back stiffens so much I can barely walk, and I need a lot of treatment to help me recover quickly.
‘It happened as I was coming off the A1 to turn on to the M25. Suddenly I’m pointing in the wrong direction and then I’m crashing through the barrier and into a load of trees. It was pretty scary but I was conscious the whole time and I just had this feeling I was going to be all right.’
He rejects the suggestion that, like so many young footballers these days, he might be too inexperienced a driver to own such a powerful car. He even rejects the idea that someone like Carlo Cudicini, the Tottenham goalkeeper now battling to save his career after a serious accident, should not be riding a motorbike.
‘My dad raced go-karts and I think driving is just something that is in my genes,’ he says. ‘But motorbikes are great, too. Don’t you think that in life you have to take risks? You can’t save yourself for the next day.’
Bendtner is remarkably self-assured but not in a way that inspires dislike. On the contrary, he is actually rather engaging. In the same way that someone like Jose Mourinho is engaging. You could say he has that same special brand of arrogance, a desire to provoke a response. He has told journalists he hates ‘boring’ football questions, demanding that they think of something interesting to ask him.
At one stage during this interview the conversation diverts to the subject of black and white truffles and a certain restaurant in Barcelona. ‘I’m surprised you managed to get white truffles at this time of year, There are none left in London.’
Maybe he’s just more mature than the average 22-year-old. ‘I hear that a lot,’ he says. But I still suggest that he might come across as overconfident, that he could easily be mistaken for someone who is far too cocksure. ‘I do not believe I’m over-confident,’ he says. ‘I believe I have the confidence I need in my ability. And if you ask me I am going to tell you straight.
‘You can ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I’m always honest and that I appreciate honest people. I like people to be straight with me. I don’t like people talking behind my back or anything like that.
‘If you ask me if I am one of the best strikers in the world, I say yes because I believe it. When I see that other strikers score a lot of goals, I realise I need to score those goals. But I think everything else in my game is right. Even if I believe I can still improve. But the goals are the last thing I need to add and when I do I believe I will be the player I want to be. One of the best.’
He will prove as much, he says, next season. ‘Remember, I spent a lot of time playing on the right wing here at Arsenal. Then I had my accident. But since I’ve been back, and I’ve been playing up front, I’ve started to find my balance.
‘I’m sure it will be shown that I am one of the best. Because of the car accident I’ve also had groin problems that mean I’m not completely the player I should be. But after the World Cup I have a month to really focus on my rehabilitation and once I’m feeling fantastic in my body, I hope to play the way I want to. There is more to come from me.’
It might have been this attitude that grated with Emmanuel Adebayor, the former Arsenal striker with whom he clashed violently during a Carling Cup tie against Tottenham two years ago and someone he will encounter today when Manchester City travel to the Emirates.
So the subject of Adebayor is raised. ‘What do you want to know about him? he says.
‘Well, what was the problem?’ I ask him.
‘You don’t get on with everyone you meet in football and he was one of them,’ he says. ‘It had nothing to do with both of us being strikers. And it didn’t start when we had that argument on the pitch. It was like that from the beginning with him.
‘I get on with all the other strikers fine. But some people you just don’t get on with. I don’t know what he thought about me. We never really spoke about it. But I don’t have anything positive to say so I’d rather say nothing.’
Even after the last two games, Bendtner would argue that Arsenal have not suffered in Adebayor’s absence. ‘We’ve had loads of injuries but we are still in the title race,’ he replies. ‘I think that says it all.’
The only subject he appears reluctant to discuss is his scoring ability off the field. Or more precisely the one WAG who can claim to be worth a good deal more than her Premier League footballer boyfriend. The lovely Caroline was already a Danish royal but when she split from her banker husband, Rory Fleming, she reportedly received a pay-off somewhere in the region of £400million.
She met Bendtner when she had him on as a guest on a reality television show that was filmed while she renovated her castle. But this remains a fairytale in reverse: the working class boy from Copenhagen – his parents worked in various roles for Scandinavian Airlines – who has not quite married a princess but seems to be pretty close.
Bendtner says he won’t discuss her but he struggles not to. ‘I know nothing about the money (the £400m),’ he says. ‘Money is not an issue. If we had no money I would still be as happy with her. It’s the same with everyone in my life. Money isn’t important. All it does is get you things.
‘It’s fair to say my life has changed though. In the last year and a half I feel I’ve grown up a lot. I still have fun but I don’t go out so much any more. Before I would go out quite a bit, do the things that all young guys do. But now I have found someone who is really special, who I love.’