Ebbe Skovdahl

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Ebbe Skovdahl
Personal information
Full name Ebbe Skovdahl Hansen
Date of birth (1945-07-05) July 5, 1945 (age 73)
Place of birth Copenhagen, Denmark
Playing position Defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
195?–1971 Vanløse IF 130 (?)
1971–1977 Brøndby IF 89 (?)
Teams managed
1977–1977 Brøndby IF (3rd team)
1978–1980 Hvalsø IF
1980–1981 Glostrup IC
1982–1985 Brønshøj BK
1986–1987 Brøndby IF
1987–1988 Benfica
1988–1989 Brøndby IF
1990–1991 Vejle Boldklub
1992–1999 Brøndby IF
1999–2003 Aberdeen F.C.
2003–2005 BK Frem
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Ebbe Skovdahl Hansen (born 5 July 1945) is a retired Danish football manager. He most prominently was a successful manager at Brøndby IF, for whom he had also played in his active years. He helped turn the side into the most dominant Danish team in the 1990s, and he also managed the club in several European campaigns with regular successful UEFA Cup runs, and a UEFA Champions League qualification. He has won numerous Danish Superliga and Danish Cup titles.


Skovdahl started playing as a child for Vanløse IF. He played 130 amateur games for the club[1] before he moved to Brøndby IF in the Danish 3rd Division in 1971. Following 89 amateur matches, many of them as team captain, he went on to become Brøndby's third team coach in 1977. He coached a few minor Danish teams Hvalsø IF and Glostrup IC before he secured two consecutive[2] promotions for Brønshøj BK to the Danish 1st Division in 1982, the then best league of football in Denmark. In 1986, he moved back to coach Brøndby, who had just won the Danish football championship in 1985.

He is the uncle of Danish international footballers Michael and Brian Laudrup.[3]

Championship coach[edit]

Skovdahl went on to coach Brøndby towards its second Danish championship in 1987 and he also guided the club to the quarterfinals of the international European Cup 1986-87 tournament. Following two years at Brøndby, Skovdahl moved to Portugal before the conclusion of the Danish season to coach the defending Portuguese Liga champions Benfica. Birger Peitersen went on to finish his job at Brøndby and secured the 1987 Danish championship. The job at Benfica was too much for the internationally inexperienced Skovdahl,[1] and he lasted half a year in the club. He returned to coach Brøndby in 1988 where he won his first Danish championship as well as the Danish Cup trophy, before Skovdahl had a short interlude at Vejle BK in the 1990 and 1991 seasons. Following the near-bankruptcy of Brøndby IF in 1992, Skovdahl returned to the club once more.

In his first year at Brøndby, he coached a 5-3-2 system, and re-schooled former attacking players Jes Høgh and Ole Bjur to more defensive position, where they blossomed. Though Brøndby did not win the Danish championship in his first year, Skovdahl was named 1992-93 Danish Manager of the Year, for rebuilding the Brøndby team by re-schooling players to their best abilities.[4] He went on to install a 4-4-2 system with hardworking players, whose constant pressure on the opponent, combined with the necessary technical and tactical skills, went on to dominate the Danish championship for half a decade.[1] After a few seasons of stable play and secondary finishes in the domestic league, the big turn-around for the club came in the UEFA Cup 1995-96 when Liverpool F.C. was eliminated, and including that season, Brøndby won three Danish championships in a row. The success of the team under Skovdahl concluded in qualification for the UEFA Champions League 1998-99 tournament, as the second Danish team (after AaB in 1995). In all, Skovdahl won four Danish championships and three Danish Cups and guided Brøndby to a number of individual results in the European competitions.


In 1999, he moved to become a popular manager of Scottish side Aberdeen F.C. in the top-flight Scottish Premier League (SPL) division. Aberdeen had been one of the most successful sides in Scotland in the eighties and early nineties, but the club started to decline from 1995. By 1999, heavy in debt and not capable of matching the Old Firm in the transfer market, the Dons needed to appoint a successful coach who could work with a small budget. So the club went for the fashionable idea of appointing a successful foreign coach, Ebbe Skovdahl.

In Skovdahl's first season at Aberdeen, the club finished bottom of the 1999–2000 Scottish Premier League, but Aberdeen avoided a potential relegation play-off due to Falkirk not meeting the SPL stadium requirements.[5] Despite overseeing one of the poorest sides in Aberdeen's recent history in his first season in charge, Skovdahl proved popular with the fans. In that first year he brought in many foreign signings, with mixed success, and among his signings were Arild Stavrum, Hicham Zerouali, and Roberto Bisconti. The one highlight of Skovdahl's first season was that Aberdeen reached both the 2000 Scottish League Cup Final and the 2000 Scottish Cup Final, but they lost both finals to Celtic and Rangers respectively.[5]

In the following season Aberdeen's fortunes improved domestically, but were knocked out of the 2000–01 UEFA Cup by Irish side Bohemians on the away goals rule.[6] This was the first time that a Scottish club had been knocked out of European competition by Irish opposition.[6] The next year Aberdeen improved dramatically as Skovdahl guided them to 4th place in the 2001–02 Scottish Premier League.[5] Young players such as Kevin McNaughton, Russell Anderson, Philip McGuire, striker Darren Mackie, and goalkeeper Ryan Esson were developed.

Yet with the Bosman ruling, and Aberdeen's substantial debt, which had built up before Skovdahl became manager, it became clear that the system Skovdahl had used with Brøndby could not be maintained at Aberdeen. With many of the players he had developed on short term contract, and likely to leave at the end of the 2002-03 season, it became clear to Skovdahl that he could not in the long term achieve at Aberdeen what he had with Brøndby. Aberdeen lost narrowly to Hertha Berlin in the 2002–03 UEFA Cup. The club had a poor domestic start to the 2002-03 campaign, prompting Skovdahl to announce his intention to resign.[5][7] He was replaced by Steve Paterson in December 2002.[8]

Danish return[edit]

He returned to Danish Superliga club BK Frem, who he tried to save from relegation, though without success. Following disputes with the club board over the long-term aims of the club, Skovdahl resigned in winter 2005.[9]



  1. ^ a b c "60 år i dag: Han samler på pokaler", Politiken article, July 5, 2005
  2. ^ Frits Ahlstrøm: Guinness Fodboldbog (1983), side 64-65
  3. ^ "Michael LAUDRUP: The peerless prince of Denmark". www.fifa.com. FIFA. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  4. ^ Sten Henriksen, "Skovdahls år", Politiken, 19 June 1993
  5. ^ a b c d "Skovdahl to quit Dons". BBC Sport. BBC. 29 November 2002. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  6. ^ a b Babbington, Andrea (25 August 2000). "Aberdeen chairman gives Skovdahl vote of confidence despite defeat". The Independent. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  7. ^ Roberts, Gereurd (30 November 2002). "Skovdahl ready to quit Aberdeen". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  8. ^ "Paterson named new Aberdeen boss". BBC Sport. BBC. 11 December 2002. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  9. ^ http://www.tipsbladet.dk/nyhed/generelle/ebbe-skovdahl-forlader-frem