Toke Theilade takes a look at Hertha BSC's new goalkeeper, 22-year-old Oliver Christensen.
|Oliver Christensen with Hertha boss Fredi Bobic.||Photo: Hertha BSC/citypress|
After a summer full of speculation, Odense Boldklub goalkeeper Oliver Christensen finally got his big money transfer to German football last week, when he penned a five-year contract with Hertha BSC. The 22-year-old Dane, fondly known as the Vulture from Kerteminde among the OB fans, moves to Germany with 66 Danish Superliga games under his belt, and although he’s not meant to start from day one, he has the abilities to become the long-term man between the posts at the Olympiastadion. Danish football expert Toke Theilade from Vilfort Park gives the low down on Hertha’s new signing.
A young man with a lot of experience
Christensen moving abroad was no surprise by followers of the Superliga. The young starlet has been one of the consistently best performers in the league on the position in recent seasons, and he has grown a lot since his debut at the age of 19 in 2018.
The story about Christensen and OB goes back to 2010. Here, a 12-year-old Christensen moved from his local club Kerteminde Boldklub to OB, the larger club in the region of Funen in central Denmark. Christensen had outgrown his surroundings, and he was in need of bigger challenges and a more serious training environment, which he clearly found at OB.
Since moving to OB, he has always been highlighted as one of the most exciting prospects in the club, that has previously developed stars like Christian Eriksen, Thomas Helveg and Richard Møller Nielsen, the head coach of Denmark’s 1992 Euro team.
His growth and performances at youth level didn’t go unnoticed outside of Denmark either. In 2016, he was on trial at the mighty Manchester United, and the following year he made his debut on the Danish U18 national team.
Christensen became professional in the spring of 2017, when he signed a three-year deal with OB and he was hereafter promoted to the first team.
His debut for the first team came in 2018, and he quickly established himself as the number one despite his young age, and not long after his contract was extended. Not long after, he also took over that number on the U21 national team, where he was the first choice as Denmark reached the quarter final at the U21 Euro in the summer.
Last year, Christensen even received his debut on the real national team as he deputized for Kasper Schmeichel, when the latter was unable to travel with the team due to the strict English Covid-restrictions.
What does Christensen bring to Hertha?
If there’s one thing that goes again in Christensen’s career, it is that he has consistently been able to step up and improve whenever the challenges grew. He’s been a part of all the Danish youth national teams since U18, and he has developed at a steady pace.
Even though Christensen is a young player, he is already experienced. He has been OB’s starting goalkeeper for two full seasons before this one, and last year his statistics were among the best in the league.
Among all the starting goalkeepers with 20 games or more played, he had the highest save percentage in the whole league with 74.1 %. This despite playing behind one of the worst defenses in the on an awful OB team who missed out on their season goal of finishing in the top 6 and sacking head coach Jakob Michelsen in March.
During last season, Oliver Christensen was nominated to the Male Talent of the Year award by the Danish FA and was voted Player of the Year at OB.
Christensen is an excellent shot stopper with good reflexes. He has the fearlessness of a young man and isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body when needed to save for the good of the team.
He’s furthermore a tall goalkeeper, standing 191 centimeters, making him good in the air. However, due to his young age, he’s still relatively thin, and he can easily be pushed away. As he grows older and improves even further, he should add a little more muscle, which would grant him even better control over his penalty area.