Allan Neilsen is a true cult hero at Spurs; that’s what scoring the winning goal in a cup final will do for you. Let’s take a look back at this Tottenham legends career.
Born on August 9, 1971, in Herning, Denmark, Nielsen began his journey in football at a young age, showcasing his talents in local youth clubs. In 1989, at the age of 18, he made a massive decision (especially for such a young lad) to relocate overseas and join the German Bundesliga outfit Bayern Munich. Over three years with the club, his playing time was limited, and he featured for just six minutes during a solitary match in May 1991. In that particular game, he briefly appeared as a substitute during a notable 7-3 victory against Hertha BSC. After Bayern, he moved to F.C Sion, but in his three-year stint at the club, he never played a game.
Neilsen then transferred to Odense Boldklub (1991-1993), where he made make 55 appearances and scored nine goals. At Odense, he was a part of the team that won the 1993 Danish Cup. After his spell at Odense, he moved to F.C Copenhagen, making 26 appearances and bagging three goals for the club. He then moved to Brondby IF for a season; Nielsen was named Brondby’s player of the year in 1995. He was called up for the Danish national team. Nielsen made his debut against Armenia on August 16 1995. He came on as a substitute, and following 45 seconds on the pitch, he scored the second goal in Denmark’s 2–0 win. His success at these two clubs and on the international stage gained him recognition across Europe, eventually leading to a big move for him. Can we guess where he went next?
In 1996 Allan came to Spurs (not Sugar, although we will do a piece about him in the future, I’m sure). At Tottenham, Nielsen continued to impress with his versatility, capable of playing midfield and forward. While there, he became an integral part of the squad, contributing significantly to the team’s successes in domestic competitions. His crowning moment at Spurs came in 1999. Everyone remembers that last-minute winner at Wembley against Leicester City. Steffan Iveson’s shot was blocked by the on-rushing goalkeeper, only for Nielsen to tap the rebound home and send the Tottenham faithful into hysteria (and Colin Calderwood in tears).
He made 97 appearances for the Lillywhites, scoring 12 goals. In the summer of 2000, it was time for Neilsen to move on. Due to conflicts with Tottenham manager George Graham, Nielsen opted for a change in March 2000 and moved in the summer before the season started. He made a move to Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan, joining the English First Division on a three-month deal.
He completed a loan move to Wolverhampton Wanderers that summer. Wolves even had the cheek to put him on the front of a pre-season match day programme when the two sides met in a friendly before the season started. Nielsen only made seven appearances for the Wolves, scoring two goals in the process; after his short time there, Tottenham Sold him to Watford, where he would enjoy much more playing time.
Graham Taylor signed him for a record-breaking £2.5 million, making him the most expensive player in the club’s history at that time. Nielsen spent three successful seasons with Watford. He was interviewed by Watford fan website Watfordlegends.com about how the move came together.
Nielsen stated, “I knew there was some interest from Graham Taylor and Watford and that they had been watching me at Euro 2000. They began discussions with Tottenham, and then the move was put to me. I thought it sounded like an exciting move. They had just been relegated but had been in the Premier League the year before and were still a quality team with quality players and were a very ambitious club”.
End of Career
After his three-season stint at the club, Nielsen returned to Denmark in 2003, joining Herfølge Boldklub, a team struggling in the Superliga relegation battle. Initially, he took on the role of player/assistant coach. However, after a challenging first half of the 2003-2004 season and the dismissal of head coach Johnny Petersen, Nielsen was promoted to player/coach alongside former national team player Michael Schjønberg, who hailed from Esbjerg.
Under their coaching partnership, Herfølge secured a position just above the relegation zone by the end of the season. In the subsequent 2004-2005 season, Nielsen focused exclusively on coaching. Unfortunately, their efforts were in vain, as Herfølge was eventually relegated. In the aftermath, Nielsen declared his coaching days over, concluding his chapter as a player and coach at the club, but don’t worry, we still love you, Allan. Winning Spurs a trophy will do that for you. Hopefully, someone else can do it again for us. SOON.