Thomas Lund Helveg (Danish pronunciation: [tˢɒmæs ˈhɛlˌveˀ]; born 24 June 1971) is a former Danish professional footballer who played as a defender for Odense Boldklub in the Danish Superliga, with whom he won the 1989 Danish championship. The most prominent period of his career was five years with Italian club A.C. Milan, with whom he won the 1999 Serie A championship and 2003 UEFA Champions League tournament.
|Full name||Thomas Lund Helveg|
|Date of birth||24 June 1971|
|Place of birth||Odense, Denmark|
|Height||1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|FC Roskilde (member of administration)|
|Sct. Klemens/Fangel IF|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Helveg was named 1994 Danish Player of the Year, the year he made his debut for the Denmark national football team. He has played 108 games and scored two goals for Denmark. He has played for Denmark under three different national coaches, and has participated in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 European Championship and the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cup tournaments.
Born in Odense, Helveg started his senior career at local club Odense Boldklub (OB) in the top-flight Danish 1st Division. Helveg played two matches in the last part of OB's 1989 1st Division winning season, and he was soon a part of the OB first team alongside later national team players Allan Nielsen and Brian Steen Nielsen. Helveg represented Denmark at the 1992 Summer Olympics, playing all three Denmark matches in the tournament. When OB played English club Arsenal F.C. in the 1993–94 Cup Winners' Cup tournament, Helveg was put to the task of handling English international striker Ian Wright, for which he received praise.
Thomas Helveg's international career began when he was loaned out for six months by OB, in November 1993. He joined Italian club Udinese Calcio, who were relegation battlers in the Serie A championship. He made his Udinese debut in a 0–0 draw with Atalanta B.C. on 28 November 1993, and played 22 games and scored two goals in his first season at the club. Even though Udinese was relegated to the Serie B at the end of the season, he received his first call-up to the Denmark national team by national manager Richard Møller Nielsen in April 1994. He came on as a substitute in the 14th minute for the injured John Jensen, and Helveg would receive rave reviews for his performance, making him a mainstay in the Denmark squad from day one. Despite their relegation, he was bought by Udinese and was soon to have success in the Udine club. Combined with his international breakthrough with the Denmark team, his first year at Udinese earned him the 1994 Danish Player of the Year award.
For five seasons, he was first choice in the right side of the Udinese starting line-up, as a wingback charging up and down the sideline. He played 30 of 38 games, as Udinese finished second in the 1994–95 Serie B season, and won promotion back into the Serie A after a single season in Serie B. Under guidance of coach Alberto Zaccheroni, Udinese steadily became a tough opponent for the other clubs in Serie A, and finished in tenth place of the 1995–96 Serie A season. Helveg scored his first national team goal in June 1996, before representing Denmark in his first major international tournament at the 1996 European Championship (Euro 1996) later that month. He played all three Denmark matches in the preliminary group stage of the Euro 1996, which ended unsuccessfully in an early exit from the tournament.
In April 1997, he was joined at Udinese by fellow Danish player Martin Jørgensen. The pair developed a close relationship, naming each other nephew Jørgensen and uncle Helveg. For the next two seasons, Udinese mingled with the biggest Serie A clubs, the "Seven Sisters". Helveg played 30 of 34 games as Udinese finished in fifth place of the 1996–97 Serie A season, and qualified for European football for the first time in club history. In the following season, Helveg played four games for Udinese in the European UEFA Cup tournament, and helped the club finish in a meriting third place of the 1997–98 Serie A season. Both Helveg and Martin Jørgensen were included in new national manager Bo Johansson's Danish squad for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Their connection was evident in their joint celebration following Helveg's goal in Denmark's 4–1 win over Nigeria in the World Cup round of 16.
Before the 1998 World Cup, Helveg had been sold to A.C. Milan, alongside his Udinese teammate Oliver Bierhoff. The transfer deal made Helveg the most expensive Danish player at the time, at the price of £6 million. The shift from Udinese to A.C. Milan was made easier, when Milan later signed manager Alberto Zaccheroni from the Udinese days. The trio gained success in Milano, as the club won the Italian championship, Lo Scudetto, in 1998–99. Thomas Helveg played a large role in the success as a starter in almost every game in the season. In the next two seasons he was still first choice, but in the season 2001–02 he began to be challenged severely by the young Italian players like Gennaro Gattuso and Massimo Ambrosini. He scored his first goal for the club on 6 December 2000; the only goal in a 1-0 win at Deportivo de La Coruña in the UEFA Champions League.
In the 2001–02 season he played less than half of Milan's games in Serie A, and following only eight of 34 matches in the 2002–03 season, he moved to Inter Milan – the cross-city rivals of A.C. Milan – before the season 2003–04. Helveg was in fact already owned by Inter, who had bought him in November 2000 (swapped with Cyril Domoraud), and subsequently loaned him to A.C. Milan for three and a half seasons for a peppercorn. Through his five years at A.C. Milan, Helveg had been selected for Denmark in both the Euro 2000 as well as 2002 FIFA World Cup. While the Euro 2000 was no success for neither Denmark nor Helveg, who had an injury which limited him to playing a combined 98 minutes in two games, the 2002 World Cup gave him more time on the pitch. He played full-time in the three successful group stage matches, until another injury forced him to leave the pitch in the seventh minute of Denmark's final game before elimination.
In Inter Milan, he rejoined his former manager in both Udinese and A.C. Milan, Alberto Zaccheroni. Helveg regained some of his form and played 22 games in Serie A and six matches in the European cups. In this his last year in Italy, he was from time to time also used in the left side of the defence. He was once more a part of a European Championship tournament, when he played full-time in Denmark's four games at the Euro 2004. Helveg was named national team captain following the retirement of René Henriksen after the Euro 2004 tournament. After a year at Inter Milan, Helveg moved on to play in England in the summer 2004.
He joined Norwich City on a free transfer. Norwich had been promoted to the English FA Premier League and saw Helveg as a signing who would bring class and experience to the side. His signing was seen as something of a coup for Norwich, but Helveg struggled to reproduce the form shown in Serie A and on the international scene, and he lost his place in the starting line-up in the opening weeks of the season. After a long absence, partly due to injury, he regained his place in the side in early 2005, this time in central midfield. He finished the season, in typically versatile fashion, as the first choice right back. After a largely disappointing season, Norwich was relegated. Helveg left the club, having shown only flashes of his former class.
Helveg signed a two-year contract with German club Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga championship. Four appearances into his Mönchengladbach debut season, he sustained a serious achilles tendon injury that forced him out for more than eight months. He returned to Bundesliga action at the end of that season, coming on as a substitute in injury-time in Mönchengladbach's final match. Having played eight of Mönchengladbach's first 19 games during the 2006–07 season, Helveg was dropped from the Danish national team by national manager Morten Olsen. Helveg and Mönchengladbach mutually terminated his contract in January 2007, and he moved back to play for OB.
On 4 December 2010, Helveg played the last match of his career.
- The following table is up to date as of 28 April 2007
- Scores and results list Denmark's goal tally first.
|1||2 June 1996||Copenhagen, Denmark||Ghana||1–0||1–0||Friendly match|
|2||28 June 1998||Saint-Denis, France||Nigeria||4–0||4–1||1998 FIFA World Cup|
- A.C. Milan
- "Thomas Helveg – Century of International Appearances". The Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation.
- Leif Rasmussen, "Ob blev på toget", Ekstra Bladet, 30 September 1993
- Allan Nielsen, "Skaden fødte en storspiller", Politiken, 21 April 1994
- Fiorentina, Internazionale, Juventus, SS Lazio, A.C. Milan, Parma AC, and A.S. Roma were considered in a class of their own, as they dominated the seven first spots of the league every year.
- Thorsten Dam, "Thomas Helveg solgt for rekordbeløb", Berlingske Tidende, 31 May 1998 (amount translated from Danish kroner)
- "Helveg strike sinks Deportivo". BBC Sport. 6 December 2000. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
- "Helveg wechselt zu Odense BK" (in German). kicker.de. 31 January 2007. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
- "Danmarks Radio career statistics" (in Danish). resol.dr.dk. Archived from the original on 14 March 2007.
- "Thomas Helveg". espacefootball.ifrance.com. Archived from the original on 3 May 2007.
- "Thomas Helveg" (in German). fussballdaten.de. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
- "Thomas Helveg". ESPN. Retrieved 21 August 2011.