Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner may have a reputation as a “bad boy” but the 30-year-old showed signs of maturity in the way he accepted the decision of coach Age Hareide to leave him out of the World Cup squad due to injury.
Bendtner left the field with tears in his eyes after sustaining a groin injury while playing for his Norwegian club side Rosenborg a week ago, and the Danes must now do without his erratic talent and off-beat sense of humour.
“Bendtner stood up and asked if he could say something to the players and wished them good luck with the job in Russia,” Hareide said in a video on the Danish FA’s Twitter feed.
With a tongue-in-cheek online petition started to postpone the World Cup until “Lord Bendtner” was fit, Hareide did all he could to allow the striker to recover but, after missing Saturday’s goalless draw with Sweden, time ran out.
The 30-year-old Bendtner burst on to the scene in 2005 as a precocious talent at Arsenal, but was soon loaned out to Birmingham City.
He went on to represent Sunderland, Juventus, Wolfsburg and Nottingham Forest but his goals were often overshadowed by tabloid tales of drink-fuelled escapades.
Bendtner hit the headlines in 2009 after stumbling out of a nightclub with his trousers around his ankles after a Champions League defeat by Manchester United, and was banned from driving and fined after a drink-driving incident in Copenhagen in 2013.
The forward also fell foul of the footballing authorities at Euro 2012 when he lifted his shirt to reveal underwear bearing a bookmaker’s branding, which landed him a hefty fine from UEFA.
But after signing for Rosenborg, Bendtner was starting to rediscover his best form, winning the Norwegian title in 2017 and netting three goals in 11 games this season.
Having taken part in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Bendtner will now enjoy the European summer and watch from home as the Danes head to Russia without him.
If the recent heatwave in Scandinavia continues, there may even be a repeat of an Instagram photo which showed the striker sunbathing naked apart from a bra.
“Remember to protect yourself against the sun,” the caption said.