A while ago Pondering Calcio brought you the story of Ivan Jensen who played for Bologna in the 1950′s. This time we turn the attention to his good friend – the more known Karl Aage Hansen.
During his stay in Italy Hansen got to play for no less than four clubs. He was a key player in all of them.
Karl Aage Hansen was, just as Ivan Jensen, a part of the successful Danish national team which won the bronze medals in the 1948 London Olympics – in fact Hansen was the captain. He played for the Danish top club AB as an amateur since professional football was not allowed in Denmark at the time. While he was perfectly happy with his job as a math teacher he also had a desire to make some money on his sport.
His first stint abroad was as an amateur in Huddersfield, England. The case was that he could not return to Danish football had he ever played professionally elsewhere – not without a quarantine of two years at least. He even had to pay the travel to England himself.
Hansen’s stay in Huddersfield was a success. The club stayed in the first division and everybody were happy. Hansen however was quickly on his way back to Denmark, not knowing what the future would bring. What it brought was Atalanta and solid career in Italy.
Hansens move to Atalanta came to be in a peculiar way. AC Milan was in Denmark to play a friendly. Due to injuries they didn’t have enough players and Hansen was invited as a stand-in (along with the famous John Hansen of Juventus – who due to this also has played a game for Milan) for the Rossoneri. A Milan player later told a member of the Atalanta staff about Hansen, Karl Aage that is, and suddenly he was in Italy to pursue his luck.
Hansen was somewhat a pioneer when he demanded that he should be a free man after the end of his three-year contract, since he found it strange that a club could demand money when the contract was over. A Marc Bossmann of the 1950′s…
When the contract was signed Hansen was optimistic and he later said that this optimism had been well founded. He enjoyed his stay in Italy from the first moment – despite the obvious differences between Italian and Danish culture. He was for example baffled by how technically gifted the Italian players were and how unable they were to actually kick the ball hard…
Hansen was soon joined in Atalanta by his fellow Dane and good friend Jørgen Leschly Sørensen. While Sørensen stayed in Bergamo for four years however Hansen was soon on his way to the big boys in Juventus. In Torino Hansen continued his illustrious career with a Scudetto in 1952 alongside famous countrymen John Hansen and Carl Aage Præst (and no – we don’t only have three names to chose from in Denmark…).
After 86 games and 37 goals for Juve Hansen moved on to Sampdoria. He was, due to his late start of his professional career, slowly reaching the end of the football road. He hadn’t turned professional before the age of 28 and the tough game was beginning to claim it’s toll.
Hansen however refused to give in to age. After one season in Sampdoria he moved way down south to Catania, where he continued to play for yet another three seasons. His goal tally wasn’t as impressive as earlier but also at Sicily he was a mainstay in the starting line-up.
Karl Aage Hansen died in 1990, less than a year after John Hansen. His legacy will forever live on in the calcio world, even if he wasn’t among the top greats of the game. His talent lit up pitches all over the peninsula in a way that we here at Pondering Calcio dream that we’ll soon see some of Hansen’s and our younger compatriots do.