Socceroos caught up in Denmark 'note-stealing' furore at World Cup

The Socceroos coaching staff appeared to end up with a note that was passed to Denmark captain Christian Eriksen during the World Cup clash. Pic: Twitter
The Socceroos coaching staff appeared to end up with a note that was passed to Denmark captain Christian Eriksen during the World Cup clash. Pic: Twitter

It’s the stunning sequence of events no one in Australia seems to be talking about that may have given the Socceroos a crucial tactical advantage over Denmark in the dying stages of Thursday morning’s do-or-die World Cup fixture. After a tense opening hour, Matthew Leckie’s sublime solo effort had given Australia a 1-0 lead and put the Socceroos in the box seat to qualify for the Round of 16.

With Denmark’s own aspirations of progressing to the knockout stages now hanging by a thread, the European powerhouse made a pair of substitutions in the 70th minute as they looked to bolster their attack. Notably, as Robert Skov and Andreas Cornelius made their way onto the pitch, they were seen carrying sheets of paper with them that presumably contained tactics designed to help the Danish players execute a comeback over the final 20 minutes of the contest. Skov was seen handing one of the notes to Denmark captain Christian Eriksen.

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While very little was made of the Danish actions by Australian broadcaster SBS, the same could not be said for the international broadcast being shown throughout the rest of the world. Match commentators Daniel Mann and Dion Dublin were quick to pick up on the note passing, even suggestion the Australians should have done their best to intercept the message.

Den mark players Robert Skov and Andreas Cornelius were both spotted carrying notes for their teammates in the crunch World Cup group match against Australia. Pic: Twitter
Den mark players Robert Skov and Andreas Cornelius were both spotted carrying notes for their teammates in the crunch World Cup group match against Australia. Pic: Twitter

“A message for the skipper for the day,” Mann said. “Have to say if I was an Australian player, I would have scampered after Skov and ripped that note out of his hands… seen that done before.”

Without realising it at the time, Mann had perhaps foreshadowed what was to come. Less than two minutes later, footage was shown of the Socceroos coaching staff gathered around Australia’s High Performance Co-ordinator Andrew Clark, who appeared to have the Danish note in hand.

“The discarded Danish note may have found its way to the Australian bench now… so now the discussion can go on,” Mann mused on the commentary. “It’s not just about the pure football when getting a job done.”

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Incident brings back memories of Andrew Redmayne's act

While not confirmed, it appeared as though a savvy Socceroos player had managed to collect Denmark’s tactical note - perhaps after it was discarded on the ground by Eriksen - and handed it to Australia’s coaching staff for dissection. The information the note contained must have been of some value, because less than two minutes later, the Socceroos made a substitution of their own, with Graham Arnold calling on central defender Bailey Wright in place of attacking midfielder Riley McGree.

Wright’s introduction also saw the Socceroos change their formation to a more defensive 5-4-1 setup. The move proved to be a masterstroke, as the defensive reinforcements enabled Australia to comfortably withstand a Danish onslaught during the final stages of the contest and book a matchup with Lionel Messi and Argentina in the Round of 16.

The incredible series of events is sure to draw comparisons with the now legendary antics of goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne during the Socceroos World Cup qualifying playoff win over Peru in June.

During the penalty shootout, Redmayne had sneakily tossed away the notes the Peruvian goalkeeper had attached to his drink bottle that contained details about each of Australia’s penalty takers. Should the Socceroos player who swooped up Denmark’s tactical notes ever be identified, they’re sure to join Redmayne as part of Australian football folklore.

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