Latest product of Laudrup lineage lines up in Europe

Andreas will play against one his father's old teams, Juventus, and his uncle's Chelsea as Nordsjaelland make their debut in a group with the European heavyweights, writes Ian Hawkey .

Denmark's Andreas Laudrup, centre, playing in the European Under 21 football championship.
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Andreas Laudrup was not yet two years old when his father won the European Cup. Even Mads, his elder brother, three at the time, would be too young to remember the 1992 night in Wembley when Barcelona beat Sampdoria to bring back to Catalonia club football's biggest prize for the first time.

One of European football's great dynasties writes a new chapter for itself with the Danish club Nordsjaelland's debut in the Champions League tonight, against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Andreas Laudrup, son of Michael, the greatest footballing Dane, once of Barcelona and Real Madrid; nephew of Brian, once of Fiorentina, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Glasgow Rangers; and grandson of Finn Laudrup, a Denmark international for a dozen years during the 1960s and 1970s, is a striker at Nordsjaelland.

His goals helped carry them to the Danish title last year. In turn that put his club into the elite competition once graced by his father and uncle.

He will have had mixed feelings when Nordsjaelland ended up in group with Juventus and Chelsea.

"It is not easy being a Laudrup in Danish football," Michael, now the manager of Swansea City in the English Premier League, said recently, while beaming with pride about his sons, Andreas and Mads, who is also a professional footballer.

It was not always easy being Michael Laudrup at Juventus. They were the one heavyweight European club where Denmark's greatest player was not quite a superstar: he would become one, indisputably, in the course of winning five successive Spanish league titles with Barcelona and then Madrid.

Likewise, the gifted Brian Laudrup's career peaked, at club level, with Bayern and Rangers, and he won a Champions League, as a squad member, with Milan.

But in a brief spell with Chelsea, he never quite settled. That Andreas should be invited to give the Laudrup name a fresh billing, for Nordsjaelland, in Turin and at Stamford Bridge is an appealing storyline in Group E.

Being the son of a famous footballing father has advantages, in terms of early recognition, excellent advice and good genes. It also brings pressures.

Andreas, when in the youth team at Real Madrid used to call himself, on team-sheets and on the back of his jersey, simply "Andreas" to avoid extra scrutiny.

His father knew first-hand how much media gaze tends to be shone on the sons of gifted fathers.

The great Dutch player and manager Johan Cruyff, who built his early 1990s Barcelona around Michael Laudrup's playmaking instincts, had a son coming through Barca's ranks at the time. That son, Jordi, used to call himself by his first name, and not use "Cruyff", for professional purposes.

Jordi Cruyff was not far from joining the select band of sons who followed their fathers to lifting the European Cup.

Cruyff senior won it as a player with Ajax in the 1970s; Jordi was officially with Manchester United, but out on loan at Celta Vigo when United won it in 1999.

When Michael Laudrup became European club champion, Barcelona's reserve goalkeeper was Carles Busquets. His son, Sergio, went on to win the Champions League in Barcelona's midfield in 2009 and 2011.

Cesare and Paolo Maldini won the European Cup, a generation apart, for AC Milan; so did Manuel and Manolo Sanchis, of Real Madrid.

Andreas Laudrup can only dream of following them at this stage. But, at 21, he has time to nurture that ambition.

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