Keld Bordinggaard joined Bayer 04 in March 2021 right in the middle of an extraordinary time. During the coronavirus pandemic, there is a limited possibility for our new youth head coach to have contact with the club's coaches, his most important contacts. As the junior team matches of almost been completely abandoned in recent months, the former assistant coach of Denmark started his new role confronted by a number of obstacles.
Keld Bordinggaard is an extremely courteous and friendly person – that was clear during the virtual interview with the Werks11 Magazin. The new head of coaching at Bayer 04 explains in fluent German interesting details from his past. The statements from the Dane and former professional player are clear, he answers very cautiously and accurately. Answers from the 58-year-old are rapid. "I was an absolute street footballer to start with. I played handball for a club but hours of football on the street. My big brother used to organise little tournaments in our area and I took part in them. I played thousands of hours of football although I wasn't in a club," explains Bordinggaard in response to the question of how he would describe himself as a player.
Growing up in the Danish city of Odense, Bordinggaard played football for years as a child – without being a member of a club team. Only when he was 16 did he join his hometown club of Odense BK where he played in the junior team until he was discovered in the U19s by Richard Møller Nielsen, coach of the senior team. "Everything changed from that day. For the first time I met a coach who recognised my talent," said Bordinggaard. Several appearances in Denmark's Superliga followed and he made his debut for Denmark in 1983 – just three years after his first official football match. From Odense, Bordinggaard moved to Greece joining Panionis Athens before retiring from the game in the summer of 2000 after playing for various clubs in Denmark.
The unusual career of the new head of coaching at Bayer 04 is of great significance in completely understanding his philosophy: "We have to think about how we can bring street football back into clubs. Unfortunately the youth of today doesn't play on the street any more or on recreation grounds. Instead the sport is simulated on computers and it's difficult for us to compete with that. That's why we have to make the effort to build the quality of street football into our structured training. That's a real challenge for many coaches."
Bordinggaard did not learn to play football at a club in his youth but the former attacking player has now been working for more than 20 years in the coaching business. He can no longer imagine a life without sport: "Football is my passion in life. When somebody dies in Mexico they ask if he had a passion. If that is the case then he's had a good life. And with me it's simply about football."
Since the summer of 2019, Bordinggaard has dedicated himself to the training of coaches after being a coach himself for many years. His career in the dugout started at the age of 38 at the Danish club Vejle BK where he was a player. The transition from the pitch to the coaching staff under Morten Olsen was seamless. Together with the Danish football legend, Bordinggaard moved on to the Danish national team in 2002 where he worked for four years as assistant coach. He was then a head coach for several years, initially with the Denmark U20s and U21s as well as the Danish club Silkeborg IF. Bordinggaard then moved on to Germany alongside Kasper Hjulmand at Mainz 05. Back at Vejle, he gained his first experience in the position of head of coaching before his move to Bayer 04.
Over the 15 years as assistant and head coach, the Scandinavian developed clear playing philosophy, which he now wants to implement at Leverkusen: "I'm a fan of structured football but I also have trust in talent. At the end of the day, we players have to ensure that we can solve situations. And that only happens with the dialogue-based access to the players. I'm a friend of attacking, dynamic football," declared the 58-year-old, who several years ago established the agency 'Bordinggaard Football' and he completed the two-year 'UEFA Executive Master for International Players' course.
Keld Bordinggaard first had to get used to not being able to impart his understanding of football to players himself any more. The work of head of coaching is more away from the pitch even though the man from Jutland will regularly watch training sessions and matches of the Bayer 04 youth teams in the future. In contrast of the past, his work will however no longer completely depend on the results at the weekend. Instead the long-term development of the youth teams will be analysed: "We have very ambitious targets at Bayer 04 and from my experience as a coach and player I know that we often produce our best performances when there's pressure. And I feel a certain pressure in my job too as we all have to produce something. But an important part of my job was always to have a certain perspective," explained Bordinggaard.
The likeable Dane has now found a new vocation with perspective in Leverkusen. After being able to get to know the city regularly over the past two years, he has now really settled down in his new hometown: "I've had my own flat since 1 May and I'm slowly feeling that I'm part of the club. But that was always the case during my work as an external adviser. Recently I was back in Denmark for a week but I felt that my new life is here. It's a very good feeling."