Jon Dahl Tomasson hopes his second stint in English football will be significantly better than his first.
The Danish footballing legend has been appointed head coach of Blackburn Rovers on a deal until 2025, with his tenure at Ewood Park to once again become a sustainable Premier League side.
More importantly, he will be responsible for developing the club’s young stars and ensuring they get the best possible start to their careers as they seek to carve out a career at the highest level.
Few people are better suited for the task than Tomasson, who will start his tenure against Queens Park Rangers on the opening day of the season on July 30 – with the full fixture list released on Thursday.
A star is born
The striker made his senior debut for local club Koge BK where he helped the club to back-to-back promotions to reach the Danish First Division, before completing a move to Heerenveen in the Dutch Eredivisie at the age of 18 .
After a year in life with the Dutch side, Tomasson was Heerenveen’s top scorer in his two full seasons at first-team level, scoring a total of 41 goals and beating Boudewijn Zenden and Patrick Kluivert at the award for the best Dutch football talent of 1996.
He even received his first senior cap for Denmark before earning a much-publicized move to the Premier League with Newcastle United in the summer of 1997.
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Talk about the toon
Aged just 20 when he moved to St James’ Park, Tomasson was hoping to come and learn from one of the best English football had to offer in Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand.
However, with Ferdinand being sold to Tottenham and Shearer suffering from a career-threatening injury, the Danish wonderkid was thrust into the role of being one of Newcastle’s leading men.
Usually used to playing as a No.10, Shearer’s injury meant Tomasson was tasked with adjusting to life as a lone striker for Kenny Dalglish’s side, which he admitted finding difficult.
Speaking in The Big Interview with Graham Hunter, he said: “At that time Newcastle was a tough challenge.
“It’s a big, big club and in terms of mentality, way of thinking and passion, I think it was similar to Feyenoord.
“We were playing in the Champions League that year and we had a really difficult time.”
Asked about playing as a No.9 for Newcastle: “It was the only solution at the time, but I wasn’t ready to play as a nine at that time, not at all.
“In the years I played as a nine and played as a ten, but at that time I wasn’t ready to play as a lone striker, not with the way we were playing as well.
“But over the years since I’ve adapted to that.”
In a campaign in which Newcastle finished 13th in the table after hitting the lofty heights of second the previous year, Tomasson’s confidence was at rock bottom.
“I learned a lot because it’s a tough experience for a youngster,” he told Hunter.
“It’s a very difficult experience because you want to do well and you want to prove to the world and to the English fans that you are really good.
” I didn’t understand. I didn’t do well, so it was difficult for a youngster.
However, such a struggle at such a young age proved to be the making of Tomasson.
Securing a return to the Eredivisie with Feyenoord, Tomasson returned to his No.10 role, winning the Dutch title in his first year back.
Scoring goals for fun alongside Pierre van Hooijdonk, Tomasson helped Feyenoord to four consecutive top-three finishes, as well as beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2 in the 2002 UEFA Cup final.
Putting himself on the scoresheet and winning the Man of the Match award, it was clear that Tomasson was starting to realize his potential.
‘Tomaldo’ – Denmark’s goal machine
Tomasson’s fine form for Feyenoord not only earned him a move to AC Milan that summer, but also the chance to lead Denmark’s attack at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea.
Scoring a brace in Denmark’s first 2-1 win over Uruguay, Tommason was nicknamed ‘Tomaldo’ after the Brazilian goalscoring machine, scoring four goals in four appearances for his country.
Hailed by Danish manager Morten Olsen as “the ultimate team player”, Tomasson scored a total of 52 goals in 112 games, becoming his country’s co-top scorer.
In his first season at the San Siro, Tomasson helped AC Milan to Champions League glory against Juventus in 2003, a game he would miss through injury despite scoring three goals on the way from the club to the flagship event.
One of those efforts was among the most cheeky of them all, as Filippo Inzaghi tossed the ball over the goalkeeper and towards the goal against Ajax, only for Tomasson to tap into an empty net on the goal line to secure a 3-2 win for Milan.
Winning the Serie A title in 2004, the striker struggled to earn a regular place in the starting XI in 2004/05 but appeared for the club in their Champions League final clash with Liverpool in Istanbul , scoring his penalty in a shoot-out that would eventually see the Premier League side win one of the tournament’s grand finals.
Stuttgart, Villarreal and a return to Feyenoord
After seeing his playing time reduced with Milan, Tommason spent the next three years between Stuttgart and Villarreal where he scored 24 goals in 91 appearances.
However, in the summer of 2008 he secured a return to the club where he had shown his best form at Feyenoord.
After a three-year injury at the club, Tomasson hung up his boots in the summer of 2011 and focused on training where he held positions with Excelsior, Roda JC, Vitesse Arnhem and Denmark.
Malmo and a return to England
Appointed head coach of the Swedish side in January 2020, Tomasson guided Malmo to back-to-back league titles before stepping down in December 2021.
Taking time to weigh his options before deciding on his next step, the Danish legend will begin the 2022/23 campaign as manager of Blackburn where his hope will undoubtedly be to be able to guide the club’s talented generation of young players to realize even half the career that he loved.
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