Brentford midfield player Christian Nørgaard became the latest man to join a very select club of Bees earlier this week. Since Brentford entered the EFL more than a century ago, more than 1,000 players have appeared in our colours. Christian is now one of only seven to have earned ten or more international caps while with The Bees.
Christian earned his tenth cap for Denmark on Wednesday night, 1 September, all of them in the past 12 months. He came off the substitute’s bench to help his country to a 2-0 win over Scotland in a qualification match for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Denmark have won all four of their matches in Group F of the European qualification process and look set to reach the tournament, which will be played next winter.
Brentford players have been involved in international football for longer than The Bees have been a Football League side. Brentford’s first international was Joe Connor, who played twice for the Ireland national football team, which represented the island of Ireland from 1882 until 1950, in 1903. Tommy Shanks also represented Ireland in 1905 and it was then almost 30 years until Dai Hopkins became Brentford’s third international, representing Wales.
Dai scored twice in 12 appearances for Wales between 1934 and 1939. Dai is the first of our ten cap men and no Brentford player since has found the net twice for their country. That will, surely, be the next Club Record to be broken.
Brentford played in the upper echelons of the First Division in the late 1930s and nine players won international honours, including the Club’s only two England internationals to date – Billy Scott and Leslie Smith. Only Dai Hopkins made a real impact while on Brentford’s books, with his 12 caps remaining a Club Record for more than 50 years. That was broken by Malta international John Buttigieg, the second to get to ten caps.
John signed for Brentford in November 1988. He spent just under three years with The Bees, leaving at the end of the 1990/91 season. In that period, John made 20 international appearances. His 97 games for his country leaves him eighth on Malta’s most capped player list.
Brentford players were selected for their countries throughout the 1990s and 2000s with Hermann Hreiðarsson earning 12 of his 89 Iceland caps while with The Bees. Hermann was the third to reach ten caps while with Brentford and the other three have come in the past few years. Henrik Dalsgaard and Kamohelo Mokotjo both joined Brentford in 2017 and were part of their international squads while with The Bees.
Henrik earned 22 of his 26 Denmark caps while with The Bees, which makes him the Club’s most capped player. He was the first Brentford player to appear in a World Cup, helping Denmark reach the last 16 in Russia in 2018. Kamohelo played 15 times for South Africa while with Brentford, which puts him third on our most capped list. He, along with Julian Jeanvier for Guinea, played in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, one of only a few Brentford players, a list that also includes Mathias Jensen, Christian, Henrik, Marcus Forss and Halil Dervişoğlu, to have appeared in an international tournament.
Mathias Jensen was the last man, before Christian, to reach the ten-cap mark. The pair played for Denmark in the delayed UEFA 2020 European Championships and had quite the impact. Mathias played in all six games, and Christian in five, as Denmark reached the Semi-Finals of the tournament, played this summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In doing so, they became the first Brentford players to reach that stage of a major international event.
Mathias’ appearances in that tournament took him to 12 caps and only three men have played more international games while on Brentford’s books. Christian now sits in sixth place on that list and will have Dai Hopkins, Hermann Hreiðarsson and Mathias in his sights. Mathias, for his part, needs to make four more international appearances to move in to third on our most-capped list.