Over two years ago now, Mads Pedersen made his Bundesliga debut. Last month, finally, he scored his first goal in the competition. The Dane has certainly chosen his moment. The goal came in Augsburg’s surprise 2-1 victory over world champions Bayern Munich.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a while” he said Air sports. “But doing it against Bayern gives him that little extra. It was amazing to hear the fans scream my name and hear the fans go crazy. I felt like this win just gave a boost. to the whole club. “
Pedersen must have been inundated with messages afterwards? âI’ve had a few,â he says. “Family and friends, of course.” But ask him if that was the best feeling he’s ever had in football and the answer is a bit out of the ordinary. There is more to Mads Pedersen.
He has his own charitable initiative providing second-hand clothing to Ghana. “The desire to give back was the main reason. I love helping others and the feeling you get when helping others. It’s almost as good as scoring goals against Bayern, if not better.”
He is also a member of Common Goal, the movement launched with the support of Manchester United’s Juan Mata which encourages players to pledge at least 1% of their salary to help fund charities across the world.
âAnyone can save one percent,â says Pedersen.
âIt’s not just about the money we make, but the platform we need to inspire others. We have a responsibility as a footballer because we have this platform. is something we have to use wisely. As a footballer you have to give back. “
This mantra was instilled in Pedersen, 25, during his time at Nordsjaelland, the Danish club with a unique perspective. Club owner Tom Vernon is also the founder of Right to Dream Academy in Ghana and has forged a close bond between the two.
Nordsjaelland players are encouraged to engage in comeback projects and be aware of their responsibilities. “It’s different from a lot of clubs,” says Pedersen. “There is a common thread running through the whole place. They focus not only on the player but also on the person.”
It was this thinking that inspired Pedersen to launch his clothing plan. When he’s taken out of action with a knee injury, his thoughts go far beyond rehabilitation. He wanted to use the time constructively to do something more. He decided to take a trip to Africa.
âThe injury was going to take a few months, so I spoke with Tom Vernon and the coaches. We asked if I could visit the academy in Ghana and see everything that was going on while I was doing knee rehabilitation. Quickly, they made a plan for me to go.
âA few weeks before I left I spoke with Sebastian Morua, who is kind of the link between the players and the academy there, about this idea of ââgiving back and doing more as a footballer. told her I had tons of clothes that I didn’t use.
âI thought it might be interesting to bring it to the academy or to anyone in Ghana who needs it more than me. He said, ‘Let’s do it. “That’s where it developed. I think we had 250 kilos of clothes the first time and the second time we had a whole container.”
Pedersen laughs at the memories of this second experience, an operation he led from Europe because of his commitments as a player. “I was following the expeditions.” He would then have FaceTime meetings with his contact in Accra.
But it was his visit to Ghana that left a lasting impression.
âIt was a bit overwhelming. I stayed at the academy for four days with the kids there. Then I went to Accra. There were houses built with garbage. There was such a gap between the rich and the poor There were eight people living in a space the size of my bedroom.
âThey were always upbeat but it hit me. I had a great childhood growing up in Denmark. We have to be a lot more grateful for what we have. But these guys take the opportunity when it presents itself. is amazing. They work 10 times harder than most people. “
Their inspiration is Mohammed Kudus, a former Right to Dream Academy graduate who moved to Nordsjaelland and now shines at Ajax. “He’s come all this way,” Pedersen says of his former teammate. “I hope he inspires them to believe in their dreams.”
Pedersen is also an inspiration. A man with a work ethic of his own who has overcome his injury setbacks and a rocky start to his Bundesliga career. âThere are times when the pace is high in Denmark. But here it’s just consistently high throughout the game.
“You don’t have a second to relax.”
Augsburg also cannot afford to rest. Although they have beaten Bayern, they remain third. “We are getting better every week, it gets better and better, our mutual understanding as well as the coach’s vision of how we should play.”
The rewards are obvious. There is a World Cup next year and Pedersen’s flexibility – he played in defense and midfield for Augsburg – could still see him find his way into the Denmark squad. “The national team has always been a dream and a goal,” he adds.
âBut this season has been about staying healthy and playing as much as possible because I’ve had a lot of injuries over the past few years. If I do that I know the rewards will come. The healthier I am. , the more minutes I spend. get and the more minutes I get, the better I play.
“You can already see that with the goal against Bayern. I hope there will be many more to come.”
Watch Cologne vs Augsburg live on Sky Sports Football from 7.20pm on Friday; kick off at 7:30 p.m.