PROFILE: ‘He’s a brilliant player’ - The shy Dane who defied expectations to sign for City
- Credit: Jason Dawson
With the news that Jacob Sørensen’s move to Norwich City has been completed, our Norwich City reporter Connor Southwell got the lowdown on the midfielder thanks to Danish journalist, podcaster and Esbjerg fB fan Buster Emil Kirchner
Jacob Sørensen’s hometown of Esbjerg is one that isn’t easily impressed, so the announcement of ‘Lungi’s’ arrival at Carrow Road may be met with shrugged shoulders rather than an outpouring of excitement.
The 22-year-old may well prefer it that way. Sørensen’s calmness is claimed to be one of his strongest attributes – like many from his hometown, he doesn’t get intimidated easily.
So don’t expect a potentially career-making move to Norwich City to leave the towering midfielder daunted.
Buster Emil Kirchner is a Danish journalist and friend of the Sørensen family and, in his opinion, the Canaries have a potential star on their hands.
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“I think he’s quite a good all-rounder. His running capacity is enormous, technical ability is not bad but he has the flair, I think that’s why they bought him. He’s a total player. He knows exactly when to pass, when to offload the ball and he’s aggressive in pressing, his aerial duels are okay.
“I would say that he doesn’t have a clear weakness. He’s a hard-working midfielder, that’s probably the title of Lungi. He can even shoot from distance and he’s scored a few nice goals.
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“He’s a brilliant player who has so many skills to his game. You can really look forward to having this player.”
Lungi, as he is affectionately known, is blessed with a footballing family. Kirchner played alongside his older brother in Esbjerg’s academy. His dad, Lars, is a former central defender for the club, and there are similarities between Sorensen and his father’s playing styles.
“His father was a former player at the team. He was a central defender and he was also known to be a very intelligent player in terms of his reading of the game.
“After his career, his father started out as a coach. He coached a lot of youth teams – he had a small spell as a head coach when Jacob was playing in 2017.”
But, despite football being ingrained in his family’s heritage, Sørensen’s youth career never saw him stand out, in fact, he was trialed in a number of positions before a rapid period of growth that allowed him to assert himself on games to a greater extent.
“I trained with Jacob a few times. I was born in 1995 and he was 1998. When I was an under-19, he was having his first year as an under-17 player,” Kirchner recalls.
“When Jacob was playing under-15s and also the first year of under-17s, nobody would have said that this guy would be a professional Superliga player in Denmark. He was tried out as a right-back, a left-back, sometimes on the bench. He was quite small, nowhere near as tall as he is now.
“You could see he had some skills; he knew how to pass and his tactical ability was quite good, but it’s always been ‘let’s see’.
“Physically, he has improved a lot. But also, his mentality, the guy sticks to his game. He’s not the type of guy who goes out a lot or is focused on his new boots or the next girl to impress. He loves playing football and working hard.
“He doesn’t draw too much attention to himself. He’s been playing in the Superliga team for a few years and I’ve never seen him in town. He’s a bit anonymous actually – but that’s not a bad thing.”
Sørensen’s early years as a professional, despite prosperous personally, have arrived against a backdrop of instability with Esbjerg fB.
The Danish club sit rooted to the bottom of the Superliga and are actively seeking new owners. Their sporting model is heavily reliant on loan players and Kirchner admits that his departure will create more unrest amongst the club’s supporters.
“As a fan of the club, I would have wished he would have stayed because our team will be torn into pieces now. You can count the number of coaches he had in his three or four years at the club and it’s insane. It can only be more healthier for him to move away. For him, staying in division one in Denmark, it’s not beneficial.”
The Canaries sporting director Stuart Webber oversaw the development of Philip Billing during his time at Huddersfield Town - Billing also spent his academy days with Esbjerg.
Sørensen shares a number of characteristics with the Bournemouth midfielder, not just his size.
“I can see some similarities, even in the narrative of their youth career. I followed them a bit because I was there myself.
“Billing wasn’t a regular player at under-15s, he was mostly known for his big hair. As an under-17 player he was a starter but they didn’t want to give them a contract – then one day a guy in a Huddersfield Town jacket turned up at a match and then a few weeks later he went there.
“They are two players who have a great mentality and keep themselves to themselves.”