Arriving from Brøndby IF in January 2010, Nicolai Boilesen broke into the Ajax first team during the memorable 2010-2011 season, in which he helped the Amsterdammers regain the Eredivisie championship after 7 years of deadlock. Big things were expected from the technically gifted left back, who seemed to have gotten the better of local boy Daley Blind, exciting Ajax staff and fans with his sensational raids up the left flank and his technical abilities.
The young Dane also quickly became involved in international football for his country and took part in the important qualifying match against Norway, which helped Denmark qualify for the European Championship in 2012. Danish media saw Boilesen as the solution to head coach Morten Olsen’s concerns about the left back position, where he had tested 19 different players in a 6-year period.
But things didn’t go as planned for “Boile”. After his initial breakthrough, injuries became a very big factor in his career, keeping him sidelined for the entire 2012-2013 campaign. He got the better of his injuries and played a decent amount of games in the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons, including an impressive performance in Ajax’ win against FC Barcelona that got him selected for the UEFA Champions League Team of the Week, and in the latter season he was awarded the captaincy for the Amsterdam side in a couple of games.
In the 2015-2016 season, though, everything went wrong for Boilesen. A contract dispute where Ajax accused Boilesen for being greedy, and Boilesen said Ajax were bailing out from a verbal agreement, turned out to be fatal for the left back, as he was demoted to Jong Ajax and not given any first team playing time for the entire season. Once the season was over the defender ran out of his Ajax contract and signed for Danish Champions FC Copenhagen. Probably not his dream destination, getting linked to Spanish powerhouses Atlético Madrid and Sevilla just one year before.
6,526 Likes, 115 Comments – Nicolai Boilesen (@boilesen) on Instagram: “”Forced” to put this on the Wall now 😉😁 #thebesttoeverdoit💯 #idonthaveafancyfloor 😜”
Arriving at Copenhagen out of shape, without match practice and still affected by injuries, Boilesen didn’t exactly impress successful head coach Ståle Solbakken, who favored Ludwig Augustinsson as his left back for the 2016-2017 season. The former Ajacied got to appear in a few games where he deputized as central back, but was unable to become a regular starter for Copenhagen.
With the sale of Augustinsson to Werder Bremen this summer, a chance has emerged for Boilesen to show himself again. Copenhagen might be a slightly smaller club than Ajax, but it is the biggest club in Scandinavia. Should he perform well, he has the chance to finally earn his much desired move to one of the bigger European leagues.
Copenhagen is also a great club for Boilesen to claw his way back to the Danish national team. The last decade has shown that if you play regularly for Copenhagen, you are more or less ensured a spot in the Denmark squad. He also seems keen on keeping a good image to the Danish media. In the first games of this season, Boilesen has always been the first man to comment on the team’s performance after the games, where he has been straight to the media, giving honest answers about Copenhagen’s poor opening to the season, but not in a way that has made him unpopular to the fans or the coach.
The greed episode in Amsterdam resulted in doubts about Boilesen’s attitude, and he seems adamant to show that he is a sincere guy whose focus is on football. But it’s not only off the field that he must prove himself. Copenhagen manager Solbakken and Danish national coach Åge Hareide both practice a more direct style of football than Boilesen was used to at Ajax, and it is interesting to see if he can adapt to that style and find his old level of performance, which is required if a move to a big club should materialize for the former Danish international.