The original Great Dane – Per Frandsen’s popularity among Bolton Wanderers fans is summed up by the fact he was voted into the all-time best XI for both Burnden Park and the new stadium.
As he turns 50 today we decided to take a look back at his move to Bolton and some of the magical moments he supplied in more than 300 games for the club.
Frandsen’s first campaign, played alongside Danish compatriot Michael Johansen, produced some truly spectacular results.
Colin Todd had set about rebuilding the squad after a disappointing show in the Premier League and brought in Frandsen and Johansen for a combined fee of £1.4million.
Frandsen’s reputation in Denmark had been one of a regular midfield goal-scorer and though a move to French football with Lille ended in disappointment after the club fell into financial problems, big things were expected when he landed on British shores – with the concept of foreign footballers still a relatively new one at Bolton.
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An international debut had come some six years earlier for Frandsen but he gained just two more caps and several Under-21 appearances before re-joining the fold in November 1996 for a friendly against France. With Bolton’s help, he won 20 caps in all, two of which came at the 1998 World Cup finals in France.
Frandsen made his Wanderers debut in a 1-1 home draw with Port Vale but just a week later he scored the only goal of the game as Todd’s side beat Manchester City in a memorable game at Burnden.
If Frandsen scored for the Whites, the chances are it would be an entertaining game – and his other strikes came in a 2-2 draw at West Brom, a 7-0 thrashing of Swindon, a 4-2 home win against Port Vale and a 4-2 victory at Bradford.
Wanderers chalked up a record 28 wins, 18 of which came at Burnden that season under Todd, scoring an incredible 100 goals. Their 98 points also stood as a record at the time – even if a draw against Tranmere Rovers on the final day denied them the coveted 100-point mark.
Post-Burnden, Frandsen’s worth to the Whites was arguably greater. He played well as the club returned to the top flight but after the narrow relegation, the play-off disappointment against Watford signalled financial issues and he was sold controversially to local rivals Blackburn Rovers for £1.75million. Todd resigned as a result.
Just a year later, Sam Allardyce managed to resign him for £1.6m and he became the fulcrum of a team which not only got back into the top flight, but also stayed there.
A goal on his second debut against Burnley set the tone for the season, in which he would end with eight goals and Wanderers would earn their place back in the big time.
Frandsen announced himself back on the big stage with two goals in the 5-0 demolition of Leicester City at Filbert Street on the opening day, but the frequency of his strikes slowed down as the Whites cemented their top flight status.
That said, his strike to open the scoring against Middlesbrough on the last day of the 2002/3 season - one of only two he managed in that campaign – may well go down as one of the most important in the club's modern-day history.
Frandsen suffered an agonising defeat against the same opposition eight months later in the Carling Cup final as his career with the Whites wound down.
He scored his last goal for the club in a 2-0 victory over Everton, and made his final appearance when coming on as a substitute for Youri Djorkaeff in the final-day defeat to Fulham.
The Dane then helped Wigan Athletic into the Premier League before a severe cruciate ligament injury which forced him to retire in January 2005.
Frandsen went on to work as a football agent in Denmark, until he was appointed assistant manager at HB Køge in June 2009, succeeding Tommy Moller Nielsen in the autumn of 2012.
He moved on to Brondby as youth coach in 2014 and then became manager of AB, leading the club back into the First Division.
A regular visitor to Bolton games, he has kept in touch with the club, and in June 2017 was made manager of Hvidovre IF.
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