Name change spoils a rare record

The Faeroese national football team made history last Thursday with a 3-2 victory over Malta in their inaugural match for UEFA Nations League 2020-21 competition. Despite the fact that they secured all three points with two late goals, it was the first time in history of European football that three players with the same surname (Olsen) but unrelated to each other scored one goal each for a men’s national football team.

Oh,wait. Is there a confusion about who scored the decisive third goal? The official UEFA website mentioned Brandur Olsen as the scorer, many other websites awarded the goal to Brandur Hendriksson. After a little research the obvious came along: Brandur Olsen and Brandur Hendriksson are the same person. But there’s no error in name use. In fact, Brandur himself made this confusion about his official name and the name he prefers to be called.

The switch came in 2015. There was the time when then 20-year-old Brandur Olsen, highlighted as a top prospect in Faroese football and already playing in Danish powerhouse FC Kobenhavn, announced that he wants to be called as Hendriksson. Olsen is a very common surname in Denmark (and subsequently the Faroe Islands, still an autonomous territory within the Danish kingdom). He changed the name on the back of his shirt from Olsen to Hendriksson.

Why did he do that? According to an interview to Danish media, the name Hendriksson “sounded more Faroese than Olsen” and he also wanted to make his father proud, as his father’s first name is Hendrik. Rumor has it that young Brandur didn’t want to be registered himself as another of many Olsen (actually eight!) playing in the Danish Superligaen. However, this was not permanent at all. In his early 20s Brandur is considered a football multi-traveler, as he managed to play in both Iceland (FH Hafnarfjordur) and Sweden (IF Helsingborgs). He is now registered as Brandur Hendriksson Olsen. Although he insists than Hendriksson is his official middle name, this is not proven by any official document, not even his birth certificate. It’s rather considered as a football nickname.

It was only the second time in history when the Faeroese national football team came from behind to win a match. Expected or not, Malta was the opponent as well, back in 1997. There was a match in Ta’Qali on April 30th, 1997 when Todi Jonsson scored to give his team a well-deserved 2-1 victory. Jonsson is considered a legendary star for Faeroese football, having played for prestigious Danish club FC Kobenhavn and Norwegian club IK Start, among others.

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