Joel King’s European career has begun with the recently capped Socceroo making his debut for Danish club Odense BK.
Selected straight into the starting line-up at left back, King played 87 minutes in OB’s 2-0 away loss against top-of-the-table Copenhagen.
The debut caps off a remarkable four weeks for King who went from playing for Sydney FC and making his Socceroos debut, to signing a European contract and slotting into his new club’s starting XI.
King joined the mid-table club at the end of January after they triggered a release clause in his Sydney FC contract.
While his first match in Europe may have ended in a loss, King said there was a lot to learn from the game.
“It was exciting to make my debut. It was tough to adjust to the conditions at the start but after the first 15 minutes I started to warm up a bit and got into the game,” said King.
“The atmosphere was crazy. I was trying to speak to [centre back] Jeppe Tverskov next to me and he couldn’t hear me. It was hard in that sense but it was a great opportunity and a great experience: I loved it.”
King is the latest in a sizeable list of Socceroos that have made their mark in Denmark in recent history. Awer Mabil is the most notable (winning the Danish Cup and Superliga) with Alex Gersbach, Daniel Arzani, and Thomas Lawrence also playing in the league in the past 12 months.
The opportunity to consistently compete against big teams such as Copenhagen and Midtjylland is something that will greatly benefit King’s development and in doing so, will indirectly benefit the national team too.
Simply playing in big and intimidating atmospheres is invaluable experience ahead of crucial FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in the near future.
“Copenhagen’s fans were really loud but I was pleased to hear the OB fans screaming and cheering us on – they helped us a lot but it was unfortunate we didn’t get a result,” said King.
“It’s very exciting that we’ll be playing at home in a week. Playing an away game was a good experience but it will be even better to play at home in front of the home crowd. I’m excited to see what it’s like there and I’m looking forward to it.”
OB currently sit in the bottom half of the table and face the unlikely reality of having to make up nine points in four games to qualify for the championship round.