Saturday 8 February 2020. It’s a gloriously sunny day in Salzburg at FC Liefering’s training ground. Linked to the Red Bull group and acting as a reserve side for RB Salzburg, the club’s facilities are breathtaking, as well as the scenery on a chilly morning.
Brentford B had flown in the night before to Munich before crossing the Austrian border by road to play a fixture and test themselves against more European talent. A frantic game played out under the crystal-clear sky and Neil MacFarlane’s side ended up on the wrong side of a 4-2 defeat. It was a performance which perhaps warranted more but the Austrian team had been clinical in front of goal.
On the scoresheet for the young Bees that day was Gustav Mogensen. The young Dane, who had arrived in West London from AGF Aarhus in January 2019, was in fine form and he netted two quite sensational goals. The first, a confident finish as he pulled away to the left as a wide forward to latch onto a ball from Jaakko Oksanen before he steadied himself and curled home into the bottom corner. The second, a piece of sheer brilliance as he picked himself up after being fouled and stood over the free-kick to the left of the area. He hit a sumptuous effort which dipped right at the last second into the top right-hand corner. A special goal and a further example that season of the youngster’s talent.
The B Team’s 2019/20 campaign was curtailed just over one month later as the world fell into the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic. The season finished with Gustav as the top scorer for the young Bees with 16 goals and seven assists from 34 appearances. As the 2020/21 season began, the youngster was involved in a pre-season friendly for the First Team away at West Ham United and earned 28 minutes of game time as he aimed to pick up from where he left off the season before. An early season injury forced the youngster onto the treatment table for five months, but he made a return in February 2021 in Brentford B’s 2-0 win over Hemel Hempstead at Bisham Abbey.
In 14 games last season the youngster still managed to notch six goals and seven assists before he looked to target the 2021/22 season as one to really kick on after his previous setbacks. Gustav had got just two appearances to his name this season before he was once again struck by another long-term injury. A freak injury against Aldershot Town in August last year which has kept him out of playing ever since.
“I got played down the line and I had a defender on my left shoulder. I got a little push, and I overstretched my knee and immediately felt that something happened. I was on the ground for a long time because my knee wasn’t stable at all,” explained Gustav as he recounts the motions that eventually led to a reconstruction of his Anterior Cruciate Ligament.
He continued: “It’s been really tough. I was very down because I couldn’t move my leg and I was on crutches for around seven weeks, and I didn’t have any energy. I came to training and tried to be happy, I wasn’t able to show my real emotions. I’d go back home to bed and feel really tired all the time. I didn’t want to go out because of how hard it was to get around on crutches.”
When you sit down with Gustav there is an honesty about him as he recalls some dark moments that he went through upon the realisation of sitting out for a large part of the campaign having also missed significant periods last term. The 20-year-old underlined the importance to talk when faced with mental challenges.
He continued: “I’ve had my girlfriend here which has been good for me, and everyone at the Club has been really good. My family has helped me from Denmark, so they’ve been on FaceTime a lot.
“The staff at Brentford have helped with the injury but they’ve also helped me mentally. I came across a saying: ‘You have to do it alone, but you can’t do it by yourself’ and I think that has really been the case for me. I’ve had to do the rehab work, but I’ve had help from lots of people. It’s important to speak with people when you’re struggling, it’s so important, and maybe you don’t always show off how you really feel, and I think it’s important to speak because everyone goes through tough times.”
Having worked closely with B Team Physiotherapist Stella Zhang since the injury, Gustav was keen to credit her efforts in helping his recovery, as well as the rest of the staff within the setup.
“Stella has been there through every moment, right from when the injury happened,” explained The Dane. “She’s been my main physio and she’s helped me a lot with my knee as well as my mental health. Paolo (Perna) has joined us as a physio this season and he’s been a really good addition to the staff as he has some really good attributes which complement Stella.”
So, where is the young forward at now? Having joined the B Team on tour in Portugal in February to continue his recovery in the sunshine, he’s working hard to build the strength in his knee before he can get back onto the grass running and then start ball work.
Gustav continued: “My goal right now is to be back fit for the new season. It’s important not to speed things up too much and risk another injury. I’ve got a bit more strength work ahead of me before I start running. After that it’s then about being able to change direction on the pitch before starting to play with the ball again and then contact work.
“It was good to get out to Portugal, but the most important thing for me was being with the group. Back at Jersey Road I’m on my own a lot more because the lads are out training and I’m working in the gym. On the trip I was able to really get together with the team which has been really good for me.”
When you mention the game all the way back in February 2020 against FC Liefering it brings a smile to Gustav’s face as he recalls the two stunning goals. Those were feelings he is desperate to experience once again and he’s working as hard as he can to get back to those moments.
“It’s easily my best season (2019/20), had not it been for Covid I think I could have ended up with about 30 goals! I was in such a good place before Covid and it’s my best season with the B Team. Right now, the only thing I dream about is getting back onto the pitch. Even coming out and doing a warm up, which I hated before, but now I’m desperate to get back involved.”