Euro ’92 Hero, Lars Elstrup: Anxiety, Nudes, Spirituality and the ‘Wild Goose Company’ | Italy

Decisive for Denmark’s success at the European Championships, he left football due to too much pressure: for years he was part of spiritual companies.

Tell the life of Lars Elstrup it’s really difficult. Beyond the sensationalist patina, the social laughter for the appearances as a mother did it on the Danish fields and the condescending looks of those who believe they have understood everything from their lives, there is her world of hers. In planet football there are three ways to pass to eternity. One is to win. The second is linked to the romanticism of the flag and its saying no to every maxi-mega-ultra capitalist proposal from outside. The third is to become cult with behaviors judged bizarre, out of the ordinary. Råby’s boy is in the almanacs for point number one and tres. The two, nuanced, but real.

Elstrup is neither Brian nor Michael Laudrup. He is two decades away from Eriksen and outside the Danish borders he is certainly not remembered as Peter Schmeichel. Yet there is his name printed in large letters in the book of the only great Danish success. At Euro ’92, when fate decided that the national team from Copenhagen should win the tournament, the glossy part of football presents him ‘simply’ as one of the heroes who made history, decisive for the success in the group stage against France, in goal in the lottery of the semi-final penalties (against the Netherlands) which gave the troops of the late Richard Møller Nielsen the opportunity to play in the final, then won against the very favorite Germany.

The audience would like to be Elstrup. Winning number 10, smiling, in gold suit. Lars, however, even then wanted to be someone else. The pressure for the expectations generated by the success at the European Championships is too great for the thirty-year-old, who after wearing the shirts of Randers, Brondby, Feyenoord, Luton Town and Odense, decides to call it quits. With football. When the media converse with Lars, they have to accept his uncommon worldview, and by extension not for this particular: perhaps enlightened.


Over the years, ‘tipsbladet’ has mostly shed some light on Elstrup’s life after hanging up expectations and boots in 1993:

“I stopped because I had become anxious. I suffered from anxiety in my mind and body, I was sick with cramps both consciously and unconsciously. I remember two episodes in particular: one was against Brøndby at Odense Stadium, where I knew I could have reached for a ball. I chased it anyway and ended up unconscious, forced to change. The second incident happened in a training camp in Vedbæk with the national team, where I took a corner kick, even though it was shooting at me. groin.

I didn’t stop I kicked to knowingly aggravate the injury, so as to miss Wednesday’s international match due to too much anxiety. In fact, I’ve had anxiety my entire life, including as a child, teenager, professional gamer, and adult. I was scared of getting hurt, scared of losing the ball or losing control of a car. The only solution was to step away from football to calm down, be normal or feel happy. So I quit when I was 30.”

When Elstrup can no longer bear the sky above it that seems to crush him, he finds himself in Odense, the third largest city in Denmark. There is something rotten in the country, deriving from the exaggerated expectation for those who emerge in a certain area, and Lars can no longer keep up with it. He is informed that there is a spiritual community called Sangha 30km away. Interested, in the context of trying everything to avoid worse trouble and ‘final’ ideas, he learns that it is a subdivision of The Wild Goose Company, the ‘Wild Goose Company’ sect headed by Michael Barnett.



Passed away in 2019, Barnett is one of those figures that his followers are able to describe in detail, almost never finding positive responses from the rest of the world. A guru of meditation and energy techniques who has put all his experience into the OneLife company:

“After football, I had to look for something new. I went on a self-development course for three months and finally moved to a spiritual collective. Barnett, whom I met in person, he gave me a spiritual name, Darando. It means “the river flowing to the sea”. I have gained a lot of experience, intuition and understanding, I have learned to organize myself physically and mentally in order to achieve greater profits. I managed to have many human resources without regrets, I became richer and I can live better in the present and shape my future”.

Darando, or Lars Elstrup, who was a prolific striker during his football career, with a remarkable average in the national team (13 goals in 34 appearances), lives in the community near Odense for a year, before using all the energy he gathered to make a leap to the next level. Break away from Darando and the Wild Goose Company to return to the self born in 1963, with an almost trivial name and surname. I of him:

“We broke up with Wild Goose frontman Michael Barnett and we founded our community, The Heart of the Sun. 50 people. Throughout the period from 1993 to 2000, I lived with these people. The reason I left the collective, is because I was driven by the will to move up the ranks and make a profit instead of a loss. It was new, exciting, a great place”

Protagonist of the documentary broadcast on Danish TV in 1994, Elstrup will be shown intent on performing an ecstatic, free, enthralling dance. He is not ascetic, considering that Lars will continue to have a common lifestyle in many respects: Bacchus and tobacco will accompany him during his years at The Heart of Sun. To the Danish people, he is ‘strange’. There is no other way to highlight how his compatriots see him: out of the ordinary. And not in a good way.

When it is discovered that Elstrup, thanks to the money accumulated during his football career, is in possession of a houseboat in Nyhavn, he will try to put a stop to the stories that by word of mouth are starting to become increasingly absurd:

“It’s not, rather it’s a sailboat I lived in over the summer.”

Over the years Elstrup will make the front pages, especially of tabloid weeklies, for forms of protest and activism that will never be understood: like sitting in Strøget, Copenhagen, wearing a mountain of Danish kroner:

“The aim was to see if anyone would take the money, because I would actually give it away. Most perceived that I was there begging. I said nothing and it was exciting to watch passers-by. Some threw me money, but one of them finally took it. I smiled at him because he understood the purpose”.

Lars ElstrupYoutube


There is an event in the life of Lars Elstrup that separates negative judgments from positive ones. Euro 1992 champion, member of Odense winners of the Danish league in 1989, he decides to break away sharply from the old materialism, for the greater good. Real, touchable. After giving away the gold medal of the European Championships and the kits of his career, he organizes an auction in which there are the medals of his hometown:

“I cleaned out my apartment to get rid of unnecessary items. I have medals in my heart in the form of experiences, so I could create joy by giving or selling them.”

The 16,000 crowns, about 2,000 euros, combined, are donated to help children with cancer in Odense hospital. It’s not worth the money in his life, considering the considerable nest egg saved during his decade as a professional. A nest egg that allows him, for example, to travel to India to work on his own spirituality under the guidance of a teacher. Wiping away other people’s judgments and thoughts.

The judgments don’t touch him, but they come thundering especially in 2016, when Lars Elstrup enters the field completely naked in the Danish league match between Randers and Silkeborg. Jumps, somersaults, smiles and even a vertical between petrified fans and players halfway between amused and scandalized. Looking at it from the outside, there’s very little that’s funny. In fact, he often revealed that he thought of ending it all. And not with football.

He went on, being pointed out by those who never knew his deeds. Who is that man? Lars Elstrup. He keeps walking. Anxious, but sure you want to get over it. Aware of being able to do good. Because his entry during Randers-Silkeborg, for example, led to an apology of his own: punished with five years of Daspo, he offered to entertain the crowd during the interval of a match of the club he grew up in over the years ‘ 80, from its inception to 1986:

“It will be a show for the people and there will be dancing, upbeat music and special care in the programme. I want to be the architect behind it all, it will be completely free to you. I am sorry for any inconvenience I may have caused.”

The answer that Lars Elstrup thought, perhaps naively, could be positive, will not come. Less and less will be known about him, slippery and free between a European and an Asian continent, without ever being ordinary and understood. Guest of a friend, on the street for artistic and political demonstrations, on his boat with his legs crossed to go beyond the amused gazes of interviewees and onlookers.

In Vissenbjerg, Nyhavn, India, Elstrup smiles at those who judge him, at those who insult him. He talks about himself and his beliefs, his life. He tries to open his mind, to assimilate new knowledge to move forward. The first level is his football career. Entering and climbing to the second, the glory of his compatriots appears for the goal against France and the success of the European Championships. All around the scale of values, his life experience. Beyond football, to overcome what he represents. Something serious, sure. But not so much as to make an existence worse. Lars understood it, detaching himself from it. He chose to choose another life. The of him.

Euro ’92 Hero, Lars Elstrup: Anxiety, Nudes, Spirituality and the ‘Wild Goose Company’ | Italy