We stand waiting near the kit room for Mads Andersen to arrive for training, debating with kitman Chris Lee who is better at football – the Grove Street interviewers or him. The jury is, of course, out. It’s a democracy and the two of us come out on top, just as we do at five-a-side.
Our Danish centre-back strolls in, a beaming smile from ear to ear as ever. “Do I have time to get a coffee?” he asks. We oblige, you can’t say no to that face. He stands and has a casual chat with us for a while before we head into the stadium to take photos.
“You’re not allowed to smile, Mads,” we tell him. “You need to look serious.”
“I like to smile,” he replies. “It will look weird.”
We compromise to let him have one photo where he smiles, but the rest have to be in keeping with the urban theme we have going on in this season’s matchday publication.
After our photoshoot, we head back inside to begin the interview. The last time we spoke with Mads for the programme was probably the first real in-depth feature we had done with a player in our old BE RED editions as we looked at the human side.
The defender had been struggling from a lack of confidence but nine months on we have seen a remarkable transformation. He’s still the same, happy Mads that we all know and love, but there is an aura about him nowadays; a presence both on and off the pitch and you cannot understate his value to the team right now.
It all began when the world came to a grinding halt back in March and, like all of our foreign contingency, Mads departed South Yorkshire for home, unsure as to when he would be able to return and pull on the red shirt.
“The big difference was to go back to my family and clear my head and it was also the first time that we had played through the winter – I’d never done that before,” began the 23-year-old. “I was able to go back and build myself up; I needed the big breath and I got it and could build myself up both physically and mentally.
“I had a lot of ups and downs last season, but it was also just to reset my mind to keep it all in the past and focus on the future, and build myself to be stronger than I was before.
“I don’t remember which games I felt the lowest, but I definitely came a long way down there. But it’s good because when you suffer, you grow, and you can see when I came back, I had learnt from all that and adapted, so it was a good thing and I’m happy for it.”
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