A Story Sweeter Than a Danish
BY KEVIN KERNEN | COURTESY PHOTOS
AS IS THE STORY with most Louisville City FC players, Magnus Rasmussen is a fan favorite. As is also the case with most LouCity players, “MagRam” isn’t a stranger to the pitch either, getting plenty of time on the field along with just about every other player on this lean roster.
It isn’t his playing time, his chiseled, Scandanavian good looks, nor his deft touch that have earned him a place in the hearts of Louisville City fans. No, it’s largely thanks to the midfielder’s actions from nearly three years ago.
On March 28, 2015, Magnus scored the first goal in Louisville City FC’s competitive history, the winning goal in a 2-0 triumph over Saint Louis FC. It was a day of many firsts: first competitive match for either club, the first win in club history and the first professional match for Magnus outside of his native Denmark.
The journey for Magnus began from a young age. After he outplayed most kids around him in his kindergarten class, he was urged onto a bigger club, when he would go to school from eight in the morning until two in the afternoon and practice in the early evening, spending the interim playing soccer in the street around school. After showing promise in Copenhagen’s youth football scene, Magnus signed his first contract at the tender age of 15, joining the Danish Superliga team Nordsjaelland, a relatively new team in the domestic top tier who pride themselves on youth development in particular.
After playing nearly every game available in his youth career, Magnus became a victim of his senior team’s success when Nordsjaelland won the 2011-12 season of the Superliga, which qualified them for the top club competition on the European continent, the Champions League. Winning the league and earning automatic qualification to the group stage of the Champions League comes with a sizeable influx in cash (they earned 20,402,000 Euro, per UEFA.com). Nordsjaelland, who play in front of about 10,000 fans on average, were drawn into a group with the Champions League title holders Chelsea FC, perennial Italian powerhouse Juventus and Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk. With the incoming money, Nordsjaelland manager Kasper Hjulmand and the team looked to build a more international roster and compete in the continental competition. None of this boded well for the then 19-year-old Magnus who, after deliberating with his manager, decided to make the move back to the club he was a part of earlier in his career, BK Soelleroed-Vedbaek, and finish his schooling.
It was there his visions of grandeur and adventure led Magnus to set his sights on leaving his native country and playing abroad. He shared his thoughts with a teammate at the time, who knew a futsal coach with international connections, Bo Holden. He was the manager of the domestic futsal powerhouse Jaergersborg-Gentofte Futsal (JB Futsal), who got Magnus in touch with James O’Connor ahead of LouCity’s inaugural season in late 2014. After seeing Magnus’ highlights, O’Connor invited the Dane to try out for the forthcoming team and made Magnus part of the first raft of singings ahead of the 2015 season, a year in which Magnus played 29 games, scoring eight goals and notching five assists from his attacking midfield position. Most of the offense ran through Magnus, who with 2015 MVP Matt Fondy, cut an imposing sight for the opposition’s defense.
Magnus remained with the Louisville outfit for the 2016 season but was slow off the mark-rehabbing from offseason surgery to repair a labral tear in his hip, which meant he didn’t see the pitch until the latter half of the season. He could only record 16 appearances and 777 minutes before time ran out on his and Louisville City’s season.
Meanwhile, the time spent from home had been wearing on the Dane. Back home in Denmark, a country that’s about half the size of Indiana, a 30-minute car ride is considered quite the trek to go see family, who traditionally live close to home. Magnus had also left his girlfriend, Camilla, as she finished her equivalent of high school.
It was after the 2016 season when a healthy dose of homesickness led Magnus back home, where he linked back up with Bo Holden and JB Futsal, and joined the club for their 2017 campaign, one that ended with them hoisting the Danish Championship. Magnus, like most Danish kids, was no stranger to Futsal, the version of the sport played on a court, with five players per team plus a goalkeeper. The fact that Futsal is played indoors meant that it was usually all that was available during the long, bleak Scandinavian winters, and it also meant that players had to develop the technical side of their game, yielding more well-rounded players. It harkened back to those afternoons spent between school and soccer practice for Magnus, too.
Magnus kept playing on the pitch, too. He signed on with Boldklubben Frem, members of the third tier of Danish soccer, in order to keep fit for Futsal. After being called up to the Danish national Futsal team, Magnus got to explore some exotic locales, such as Kazakhstan and Dubai, with his countrymen.
All this time, he kept in close contact with Coach O’Connor and the LouCity teammates he left behind. He watched most of the games from wherever he was and knew that there was something special going on here. The door never closed on Magnus, and when Camilla got the opportunity to study Bioinformatics for her master’s thesis at Harvard, he knew the time was right. Magnus signed back on with Louisville City on Jan. 4 of this year, returning to the club that he had come to be an important part of. Ask any LouCity player about the locker room atmosphere, Magnus included, and they’ll tell you it’s a professional one, but also feels like a family. For Magnus, it was family that took him back home to Denmark, and it’s family that brought him back to Louisville.