Who are The Laudrup Brothers ???
Who are The Laudrup Brothers
The Laudrup Brothers are Michael and Brian Laudrup, who are both retired professional footballers. Michael is the older brother and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation – and even as the greatest of all time by some. Playing mainly as an attacking midfielder, Michael won league titles with Ajax, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus, and was a member of Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team” at Barcelona. His brother, Brian, played as a winger, forward, or midfielder for several European teams. His career was eventually stalled due to injury.
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Born in Copenhagen, the two brothers were a welcome addition to a family of footballers. Their father, Finn Laudrup, was a former Danish international footballer, and altogether there were 7 footballers across 3 generations in the family. Michael, the older of the two, was born in 1964, while his brother Brian was born in 1969.
Michael first began playing football in his father’s childhood club, Vanlose, but when his father became a player and coach for Brondby IF in 1973, the family moved to Denmark and both brothers began playing for the club as well. Both performed impressively, with Michael following his father to the top-flight Danish First Division club Kobenhavns Boldklub in 1976 while his brother stayed on at Brondby. Brian won both the 1987 and 1988 Danish First Division with the club, but his contract expired halfway through the 1989 season, leading him to join German club Bayer Uerdingen.
Brian had joined Uerdingen to play in a club where there was little pressure, but still impressed with 6 goals in 34 matches and was named Danish Player of the Year for the 1989/90 Bundesliga season. His performances in the Bundesliga were widely praised and he was rated the league's second-best forward in the second highest category, international class, after Werder Bremen's New Zealander, Wynton Rufer. He was even hailed as the 1989–90 season's best signing by sports magazine Sport Bild, ahead of high-profile names including Uwe Bein, Stefan Kuntz and Thomas Strunz. However, by 1990, Brian planned to the club in the summer of 1990.
Meanwhile, Michael had made his senior debut for Kjobenhavns Boldklub in 1981, debuting for the Danish under-19 national team in February of that same year. Over 25 matches, he scored 14 goals before re-joining Brondby in 1982. There, he scored two goals in the club’s First Division debut game and fifteen league goals over the course of the year. He ended the season as the First Division’s third top goal scorer and won the 1982 Danish Player of the Year award for his efforts. His talent was clear, and after another nine goals scored in the 1983 season, Michael was approached by both Chelsea and Juventus, both high-ranking teams in the country. Though he was due to sign a three-year contract with Liverpool, when they proposed a four-year contract, Michael was instead sold to Serie A champions Juventus for around $1 million – the biggest transfer deal in Danish football at the time.
However, with the team restricted to fielding a maximum of two foreign players per team, Juventus were forced to loan Michael to Rome club Lazio for a season. His brief stint with Lazio was unsuccessful, as the team lost 2-4 in his Serie A debut despite Michael scoring the only two goals of the game. They then narrowly avoided relegation after his first year with the team, but after finishing last in the 1984/85 season, Lazio were relegated to Serie B.
Michael was finally able to return to Juventus in the summer of 1985 and turn his luck around, winning the 1985–86 Serie A as well as the Intercontinental Cup trophy, and once again being named Danish Player of the Year. His success was short lived as he suffered multiple injuries and failed to score a single goal, despite appearing in all 30 matches of the 1987/88 season. After such an unsuccessful season, Michael decided to end his six-year tenure with Juventus and joined Barcelona instead, in hopes of forming part of John Cruyff’s Dream Team.
Brian, on the other hand, was experiencing great success as he attracted the attention of Bayern Munich and was sold for a transfer fee that made him the most expensive Bundesliga player at the time. It was not hard to see why Brian was so sought after, as he scored 9 goals in 33 games, pushing the club to a second-place finish. Brian was also part of the Bayern squad that reached the semi-final of the 1990–91 European Cup. His success drove his popularity up among both experts and the wider public. In a vote that gave Kicker readers the opportunity to choose their favourite players at individual places and the most popular player, known as "das Idol '90", Brian received four times as many votes as Klaus Allofs in second place. He was a consistently impressive player in his first five matches of the 1991/92 season, but when he suffered a cruciate ligament injury in his right knee in August 1991, he was forced to watch from the side lines as his team suffered a disastrous season. In February of 1992, Brian returned and played the last 15 matches of the season, with Bayern finishing in 10th position. Despite his injury, Brian still finished the 1991/92 season being named Danish Player of the Year again for the second time, and finished fifth in the FIFA World Player of the year poll.
With Barcelona, Brian’s brother Michael was enjoying major success under his idol Cruyff’s leadership. He was one of the restricted three foreign players allowed in the team, making up one of the pillars of Cruyff’s Dream Team. The team’s style was attractive and comparable to that of the 1970s Ajax team, winning four consecutive La Liga championships from 1991 to 1994, as well as the 1991–92 European Cup, along with the 1992 UEFA Super Cup, 1989–90 Copa del Rey and 1991 and 1992 Supercopa de España titles. Twice during his time with Barcelona, Michael was voted the best player of the year in Spain. When Brazilian striker Romario joined the team in 1993, the four foreign players had to rotate as only three were allowed in each match, but amidst conflicts with Cruyff, Michael was not selected for the 1994 European Cup final. The team lost 0-4 to Milan, with Milan’s manager Fabio Capello stating: “Laudrup was the guy I feared but Cruyff left him out, and that was his mistake.” The loss was the last nail in the coffin for Michael, however, and he left fans and teammates distraught as he departed. Reflecting on his time at Barcelona, Michael said: “I think we played some very good football, and I think most of all we demonstrated that even without getting the ten best players in the world, you can have the best team. Because everybody talked about Begiristain, Bakero, Guardiola, Stoichkov, and Koeman, but when we started none of us was a best player, then we became maybe the best team in the world, together with AC Milan in that period.”
As Michael was preparing to leave Barcelona, his brother Brian’s reputation as a talented footballer was on the incline. He fulfilled a lifelong ambition when he moved to Serie A – at the time, the top league in the world – and signed for Fiorentina. But his dream did not turn out the way he envisioned. Though the 1992/93 season with Fiorentina started brilliantly, a change of manager in the second half of the season saw Fiorentina’s downfall. The team’s performance was mediocre, and the club was relegated after more than 50 years playing in Serie A. Despite the team’s shortcomings, Brian’s individual performance was solid, and he was loaned to Milan for the 1993/94 season.
Due to the three-foreigner rule at the time and a squad rotation system that was in place at the club, Brian’s tenure at Milan only saw him play a handful of matches throughout he season. Despite this, he still played seven European matches for the 1993/94 UEFA Champions League which Milan won, and the club’s Scudetto win was also during his stint there. Despite being contracted to play for Fiorentina until the summer of 1996, Brian stated that he did not wish to return to the club after his loan period with Milan was over.
Meanwhile, Michael was struggling with his own controversy. Having fallen out with Cruyff, it was widely believed that his move to arch-rivals Real Madrid was an attempt to seek revenge against Cruyff. But Michael hit back at these claims: “People say I wanted to go to Real Madrid just to get revenge. I say revenge from what? I've had a perfect time; five fantastic years here [at Barcelona]. I went to Madrid because they were so hungry to win, and they had four or five players who went to the World Cup. I said this would be perfect; new coach, new players, and hungry to win.” His decision proved to be as fulfilling as he hoped. Michael went on to guide Real Madrid in a championship-winning season that would end the Barcelona stranglehold. He was the only player ever to win the Spanish league five times in a row while playing for two different clubs. When the club celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2002, a Spanish newspaper posted a poll wherein Michael was voted the 12th best player in Real Madrid history. It is no surprise why, when he consistently performed spectacularly. In 1993/94, while playing for Barcelona, he participated in the 5-0 victory over Real Madrid; upon joining Real Madrid, he was key in the revenge win against Barcelona, securing another 5-0 victory. Daniel Storey wrote of Michael, “no other player is loved on both sides of the clásico divide quite like Laudrup” – despite switching sides, he remained endeared to both Barcelona and Madrid fans. Following the match, Cruyff commented: "When Michael plays like a dream, a magic illusion, determined to show his new team his extreme abilities, no one in the world comes anywhere near his level.” Michael later retired in 1998, after a brief stint with Japanese team Vissel Kobe where he helped the team to promotion from the second-tier Japan Football League to the J1 League, and another with Bosnian Premier League club Čelik Zenica where he did not actually play in any games.
In July of 1994, Brian was signed to Rangers for a £2.3 million transfer fee. He made an immediate impact at the club, playing a key role in their opening league fixture of the season against Motherwell, where they won 2-1. He scored his first goal for the club later that same month, and finished the league with 10 goals across 33 games, as well as a number of assists. Enjoying his success with the Scottish team, Brian turned down an offer to join Barcelona again. He won both the Scottish Football Writers and Scottish PFA player of the year awards. His performances for Rangers and Denmark also resu;ted in his winning his third Danish Player of the Year award. However, an injury in 1995/96 caused him to miss a run of nine league games. When he returned to the pitch, he was on top form, winning the Man of the Match award in the final against Hearts for the Scottish Cup. His performance that game was so impressive, that the game has since become known as the Laudrup Final. In the 1996/97 season, the team was significantly hampered by a series of injuries to their main strikers. Brian took the increased burden for goalscoring well, scoring 16 goals in 33 league games, including the only goal against Celtic in a November 1996 win. His performances saw him win the Scottish Football Writers' award once again. His great performances for Rangers and Denmark also made him win his fourth Danish player of the year.
Despite rumours of a £5 million move to Ajax Amsterdam in the summer of 1997, Brian was persuaded to stay with Rangers for one more season to help secure a 10th successive league title. However, Brian failed to match his form from previous seasons and Rangers finished 2nd place behind Celtic and lost to Hearts in the 1998 Scottish Cup Final. Though he left the club shortly after the anticlimactic season, he described his time with Rangers as “the best four years of my career.”
In the summer of 1998, Brian began playing for English team Chelsea. However, he quickly had doubts about the team’s squad rotation system: “I would have thought twice about signing for Chelsea if I had known,” he said. He added, “When I first discussed terms with Chelsea in February, nobody told me about this system if I'd known about it I would have brought it up” and concluded “I don't like the system of rotation.” Despite his efforts to get out of his contract, the club threatened court action or to involve FIFA and UEFA if the contract was not honoured. So Brian relented, debuting as Chelsea won the 1998 UEFA Super Cup. But thanks to a combination of injury, the squad rotation system and his earlier tensions with the club, Brian remained on the bench for much of the season. His only goal with the club came in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, securing a win against Copenhagen and sending Chelsea through to the quarter finals. Although Laudrup's time at Chelsea was brief, his performances were praised, and he kept a professional attitude when called into action despite being personally unhappy in London. Manager Gianluca Vialli said: “I've always had faith in Brian. I knew before the game he was having a quite difficult time with all that was going on but he's been outstanding in training and previous matches and he responded very well. He's been professional and the goal was the right reward for him.”
After leaving Chelsea, Brian moved back to Denmark in the spring of 1999 for a brief spell with Copenhagen – a move which sparked ire from Brondby fans. Playing for the main rivals of his former club, he was booed by home fans when he revisited Brondby Stadium in 1999 and was also harassed by fans from other Danish clubs. It is no surprise, then, that he quickly left the team to join Ajax instead. He said, “I had offers from 15 clubs and I have the feeling that Ajax is the right club for me. I didn't enjoy playing with FC Copenhagen. I had the same problems there that I had with Chelsea; I could not show more than 70% of my real self.” After leading one of the most successful careers in Danish football, he later retired, aged 31, due to injuries.
Appearances: 215 / Goals: 48 / Assists: 3
4x Spanish Champion
2x Player of the Year
2x UEFA Super Cup winner
Best foreign player
European Champion Clubs Cup winner
Spanish Cup winner
2x Spanish Super Cup winner
Appearances: 151 / Goals: 36 / Assists: 1
Intercontinental Cup winner
Appearances: 76 / Goals: 15 / Assists: 5
Appearances: 69 / Goals: 12 / Assists: -
Appearances: 30 / Goals: 13 / Assists: 10
Dutch Cup winner
Appearances: 9 / Goals: 1 / Assists: -
Appearances: 4 / Goals: - / Assists: -
Denmark National Team Achievements:
2x Footballer of the Year
Confederations Cup winner
Appearances: 63 / Goals: 11 / Assists: 15
2x German Super Cup winner
Appearances: 38 / Goals: 15 / Assists: 11
KFC Uerdingen 05
Appearances: 35 / Goals: 6 / Assists: 2
Appearances: 34 / Goals: 6 / Assists: 2
Appearances: 18 / Goals: 2 / Assists: 2
Champions League winner
Appearances: 18 / Goals: 3 / Assists: -
3x Scottish Champion
5x Footballer of the Year
Appearances: 11 / Goals: 1 / Assists: -
UEFA Super Cup winner
Appearances: 7 / Goals: - / Assists: -
2x Danish Champion
Denmark National Team Achievements:
Footballer of the Year
Confederations Cup winner
Brian’s Famous Teammates
A central midfielder known for his leadership skills, passing range, shooting ability, and physical strength, but was also a temperamental and controversial character, He played with Brian at Bayern Munich.
Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, noted in particular for powerful strikes from volleys or from distance while on the run, in 1999, Batistuta placed third for the FIFA World Player of the Year award. He played with Brian on the Fiorentina team
Michael’s Famous Teammates
Koeman was capable of playing both as a defender and as a midfielder; he frequently played as a sweeper, although he was equally known for his goalscoring, long–range shooting, and accuracy from free kicks and penalties.
A prolific forward, he is regarded as one of the best players of his generation and is widely considered the greatest Bulgarian footballer of all time. He was runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1992 and 1994, and received the Ballon d'Or in 1994. Like Michael, he played for Barcelona.
Where Are They Now?
Today, Brian divides his time between his television work for the Danish broadcaster TV3 and the football schools he runs with former Denmark goalkeeper Lars Hogh.
Michael began coaching after he retired from football, but now says that he has no plans to come back to Spain to continue his coaching career. "I am in my final stages as a coach, this job in Qatar will be my ultimate or penultimate," he explained.