Timing Is Everything
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
After a years-long conversation, Christian Sivebæk is finally playing with the Sounders FC.
When it comes to signing players to Major League Soccer, timing is often an incredibly important element.
In 2009, the Sounders FC took an interest in Danish midfielder Christian Sivebæk. They even called his teammate at Midjtylland, Danny Callif to learn more about Sivebæk. The duo drove to training together every morning, so Sivebæk learned quickly of the interest from abroad. Soon thereafter, though, he signed a contract extension with the only club he’d played with as a professional. The timing wasn’t quite right yet.
In 2010, Seattle and Midjtylland both played in La Manga, Spain during their preseasons and there Sivebæk had a chance to watch the Sounders play and later talked with technical director Chris Henderson. The Sounders maintained their interest and now the feeling was mutual as Sivebæk learned more about the club.
Two years later, the timing was perfect.
Sivebæk’s contract was expiring and he was ready for new challenges. In addition, Midjtylland was under a new coaching regime and the natural winger was being played as an outside back. So he was also seeking a more comfortable situation on the field and Seattle fit the bill.
“I had some other opportunities, but Seattle was my first priority,” said Sivebæk, 23. “I like the ambitions and the style of the club.”
It wasn’t an easy departure though. In his eight years with the club, he’d grown to love the community surrounding Midjtylland and the club.
“I liked being there. It’s a good club – one of the top teams in Denmark,” he said. “I know the coach. He’s a good friend of mine, but he doesn’t see football the way that I see football. But it’s like that in football sometimes. It’s a new chapter in my career and I think it’s the right choice for me.”
He would also be missing his family. He regularly had conversations with his parents and his younger brother. Now half a world away, those conversations will become slightly less frequent.
His family is certainly the type one would look to for advice too.
His father, John Sivebæk, played for Denmark and famously scored the first goal in Alex Ferguson’s tenure as manager at Manchester United – a fact Christian learned while playing a Europa League match against Manchester City when he became the most frequently interviewed player on the club while in Manchester.
That cast a bit of a daunting shadow early in the new Seattle midfielder’s career, but he shook quickly the notion that he was getting by on his father’s name. He was playing well for both club and country and earning praise on his own merits and not a trickle-down sentimentality.
“When I was young, it was difficult for me. I played for the same club he did growing up. Everyone said I was only playing for the best teams because of my dad,” Sivebæk said. “As I grew older and I got some opportunities with the National Team and I was being seen as an individual player and not just the son of an old player. There was a lot of expectations, but I made my own name in Denmark and I didn’t notice it too much.”
The two are drastically different players, too, with Christian playing a sheer attacking style while his father was a defender who took pride in his tackling. Off the field, though, his orderly manner triggers his girlfriend to frequently point out to him how much he reminds her of his father.
His brother, meanwhile, plays American football in the Danish League. When the family visited Seattle, he was awestruck by the facilities at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, where the Seahawks were practicing at the time of their tour of the building. However, he won’t be able to join his brother in Seattle. He is soon to be deployed to Afghanistan with the Danish military
“It will be hard,” Sivebæk said. “Even though we lived in separate towns, we talked every week. It’s family and you’d like to be close to your family.”
And while it may be a difficult time for his parents, with both sons leaving the country at the same time, the timing could not be better for the soccer career of Christian Sivebæk.