The word duel pops up frequently when talking to Andreas Bjelland.
Joining Brentford on a three-year contract, the Danish international is looking forward to the physical challenge of the Sky Bet Championship.
And the good news for Brentford fans is that when it comes to a duel, Bjelland is used to winning.
At former Dutch club FC Twente, the centre-back had the best tackle success rate of defenders with more than 25 games in the Eredivisie (91%). Dominating aerial challenges too – it is understandable why Brentford brought the Dane to Griffin Park.
“I did see some statistics on myself from Brentford: duels, passes forward, technical ability - and they looked okay,” says Bjelland modestly after a pre-season training session.
“You cannot build everything on statistics because that’s not how the world works but you can definitely use them as part of scouting and getting the right players in.”
While Brentford were impressed by the 26-year old with 21 caps for Denmark, Bjelland was equally impressed by the Premier League ambitions of the West London side.
“I didn’t know much about the Championship but I spoke to Head Coach Marinus Dijkhuizen and owner Matthew Benham about the project and what they wanted to do with the Club,” said Andreas. “I wanted to be part of this project and hopefully have a big role.”
The lure of playing in England - and one day the Premier League - certainly had a big effect on the player who began his career in his homeland with Lyngby.
“England is the best place in the world to play football; the Premier League is the best league in the world, and for me to achieve that level would be amazing,” said Bjelland.
“With the new staff, coach and stadium – Brentford is moving forward. Of course things can take time with a new group but we have the talent to reach our goal - getting into the Premier League, whether it is this year or next year.”
For Bjelland, and Brentford’s other signings, the first month is usually a time to work out where they fit in.
“The first thing I need to do is to find my role and develop from there,” said Andreas. “I have age on some, so I hope I can share experience with the younger players. I love playing football and I take my duels.”
The Dane is looking to add more accolades to his already impressive national and Club achievements.
"There are two moments in my career that stand out for me so far," says Andreas. "Firstly, when FC Nordsjaelland won the Championship in Denmark three years ago. It was a massive thing for the small club that I was playing with at the time. And just before that qualifying for the European Championship. We played against Portugal in the home arena in Copenhagen which was full. We won 2-1 and it was unbelievable."
Bjelland met his Brentford team mates for the first time during pre-season in Portugal – however, it was a special day for another reason.
“My first day with everyone was my birthday,” said Andreas. “I didn’t tell anyone. It was our day off and we went go-karting and out of dinner. I was third place in the go-karting so was happy with that.”
“Then the next day I had to sing; it is a tradition that the new players sing a song. I told everybody then and they started singing happy birthday. I sang the Danish national anthem as that was easy as nobody understood it.”
It is almost a given that Bjelland will prefer playing in front of the Griffin Park faithful to singing for his teammates.
“I spoke to some Danish guys about going to the Championship and Griffin Park,” said Andreas. “You come from a brand new stadium in Holland and then you walk into Griffin Park. The Danish players I spoke to said the atmosphere was amazing as the crowd are so close to the pitch.”
“It sounded really special so I am looking forward to my first game to feel this.
“There is more passion over here – it is more important to more people than it is in Holland – that is nothing against Dutch fans, there are just more English football fans.”
With a host of summer signings joining the core players from the 2014/15 season, Brentford have strength and depth in all areas of the pitch. So have any players in particular stood out for Bjelland?
“I like the aggression and speed of full-back Moses [Odubajo],” said Andreas. “It is always impressive. I saw that in games I watched last season. The technical skills of Jota are really, really good.”
“Josh McEachran is a good technical player and I know him a bit from Holland. It is always interesting to get new players in.”
With two Brits, two Danes, two Germans, one French and an Austrian joining The Bees there is certainly a European-friendly culture being established. Does Bjelland think this can add something to the side?
“It could do,” said Andreas. “Every country has their own style and if we combine the best of them hopefully we can all benefit from it.”
“Marinus wants to do things a little bit the Dutch way but combine the technical aspect in Holland with the more physical duels over here. It’s interesting to mix these two playing arts.”
So with all those nationalities mixing during training, which accent stands out from the crowd?
“The Irish - definitely the Irish,” said Andreas. “The Irish guys are the loudest and I like that. There has to be people who make jokes. I haven’t been here that long but the Irish are the loud ones.”
Bjelland says he is known for cracking a joke or two in the changing room, but when the Dane takes to the pitch for his first Brentford match – the focus will be on his next duel.