The first half of 2013/14 has been quite the campaign for Lasse Vigen Christensen; regular Captain for Fulham’s unbeaten Under-21 side, the Danish teenager was handed his First Team bow last week.
Often when a youngster is given their debut at a club, they’re thrown on for the closing stages of a game already won, but there were still 20 minutes to play at Carrow Road on Saturday when Christensen entered the action, with the match evenly poised at 1-1.
“I’m happy it was that sort of game to come on in because that shows that the Head Coach has confidence in me,” Lasse told fulhamfc.com. “I like to think that I paid his trust back with a decent last 20 minutes, or at least that I didn’t do any harm!
“I tried to be positive and do some good things on the pitch, so I’m happy with how it went. I was a bit scared that I wasn’t going to enjoy it because it was a big occasion in a game that was pretty even, but when I got on the pitch I had a good feeling and I was happy that it went well.
“It was a very pleasing moment for me. It’s what I’ve been working towards in the two years that I’ve been here as it’s always been a dream to play for a Premier League team. I know it was in the cup but it was still with the First Team. It was a bit of a dream come true.”
The Denmark Under-21 international is approaching the two-year anniversary of his arrival at the Club, and he admitted he was delighted with the turnaround time between signing his contract as a 17-year-old, and making his maiden appearance as a First Team player.
“I think if you’d asked when I signed if I’d be happy about where I am now, I’d say that I would take that any day,” he said. “I’m happy and I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a player and as a person.
“Now I’m hopefully on the edge of something quite big so that’s what I want to keep trying to build on so that I become a better player. If I keep working hard then hopefully soon in the future more opportunities and experiences will present themselves for me at the Club. But I’m very happy with how it’s going right now.”
Despite his tender age – he doesn’t turn 20 until August – the introduction of Christensen at Carrow Road came as little surprise to Fulham fans, such has been his progression at the Club.
He had already been named on the Whites’ bench this season for our 2-0 victory over Aston Villa, while he regularly trains with René Meulensteen and his squad of seasoned professionals.
“Straight after he [Meulensteen] came in I was quite involved for a few games,” Christensen explained. “That was very good for me to be in and around the First Team.
“It also helped when I did come on [against Norwich] because it wasn’t like it was the first time that I was there and everything was new. It’s been good to be around the guys and it gives you a lot of confidence and motivation to keep working hard and to just keep going.
“Training with them definitely helps. Since the new boss came in I’ve started training more regularly with the First Team and I think that’s what I need now, to train more with the guys, to get to know them and for them to get to know me.
“That will lift me as a player, I think, and help me reach the level required to play in the Premier League, because that’s a totally different level of football. Tempo-wise and the physicality, it’s just so much quicker and when I get up to their level in terms of moving the ball and things like that then I think I’ll be alright.”
Promptly after Meulensteen took charge of First Team affairs, the Club announced that he would be aided by Under-21s Manager Kit Symons – a move that boded well for our younger players.
“Kit has been a big influence on my career,” stated Lasse. “I’ve been working with him for almost two years and he’s helped me a lot. He’s been a good coach for me and it’s been nice to have him around for us young boys because we’re now closer to the First Team than before.
“In Kit we have a man who speaks for us and knows what we can do. He sees us every day and it was nice to have him around for the games I was involved in – it gives you a secure feeling because you have someone who you know will back you, and that was very nice.”
Christensen’s rise to the Fulham First Team has come on the back of a number of stellar performances for the Under-21s. Sharing the captaincy with Jack Grimmer, the industrious midfielder has led his side to the summit of the league, winning seven and drawing four of their 11 matches to date.
Speaking ahead of their U21 Premier League Cup clash at home to Arsenal on Thursday, Christensen admitted: “It’s a bit surreal, to be fair. I don’t think that any of us expected that we would be going on such a long unbeaten run.
“I know from last year that at Under-21 level, you’ll have different teams every week, you’ll have different players. Players will drop down a level for whatever reason so sometimes you’ll play a team that has got a lot of first teamers in it who have dropped down.
“But we’ve managed to be very consistent and put in a lot of good performances. We had a few games where we maybe let our standards slip towards the end, but whenever that was the case everyone would step up and that ensured that we remained unbeaten. That builds momentum and it’s created an ongoing effect.
“We just don’t want to lose and that’s very, very good because, at this level, it can be a bit of an individual league sometimes because everyone wants to get to that next step. But we’ve got a real team ethic here, and that’s something that will help us all in the long run.”