Note: The following appears in the Georgia Southern gameday football program
In 2015, Patrick Bunk-Andersen didn’t quite get it. Self-dubbed as “the international guy who came to win,” the crowd of 7,423 fans (second largest in Historic Riggs Field history and by far the biggest group he had ever played in front of) told him it was important, but he hadn’t bought in just yet.
But seeing the reaction of his teammates who understood the magnitude of that 3-0 “First Friday” victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks, he began to realize how special the moment was.
As someone who has always been loyal to the teams he’s played for, it wasn’t hard to get into it after that.
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Growing up in Hvidovre, Denmark, Bunk-Andersen started playing soccer when he was six years old for a local club team with a few friends. He quickly began to rise in the ranks of the youth system, and at 15, some of his friends moved on to the bigger team in Copenhagen. He, however, knew that wasn’t the right fit for him.
“I’ve always liked to be loyal to my friends and teams that I play for, and I had some really good coaches in my youth years at Hvidovre IF. I never really looked at getting away from there into anything bigger. I just wanted to play in the youth system and see how far I could make it with my local club.”
But once he aged out and became a senior in the European soccer framework, he had to decide what the future was going to look like. He graduated from his secondary school and was taking a gap year, and after a friend showed him a few videos of American college soccer, his interest was piqued.
“The combination of not really knowing what I wanted with school back home but definitely wanting to continue playing soccer…it was a really good match and a great opportunity to combine the things I actually wanted.”
Via a program that helps match Scandinavian athletes with American colleges, which was also used by former Tiger Iman Mafi, Bunk-Andersen came on the radar of head coach Mike Noonan. After a visit to Denmark by Noonan and associate head coach Phil Jones, Bunk-Andersen was sold on Clemson.
“I never took an official visit. I just saw a few pictures and I trusted what the coaches said they had. I liked what they were standing for and what they brought to the table.”
And so he filled out all his paperwork, bought a plane ticket and arrived in Clemson with just one suitcase of clothes, and he has not looked back. He has been a staple of the Tigers’ back line since his arrival, improving from All-ACC Freshman honors in 2015, to Third-Team All-ACC accolades in 2016 and third-team All-South Region honors in 2017. He has been the team’s defensive player-of-the-year each of the last two seasons, and he scored three goals in 2017, including the first of his career in the Tigers’ “First Friday” matchup against, yes, the Gamecocks.
Aside from that 2015 South Carolina matchup, Bunk-Andersen’s other favorite on-field memory was when the Tigers defeated Maryland later that year to advance to the College Cup and, eventually, the national championship match. He hopes to draw on that experience as he leads the 2018 squad as a captain.
“From my perspective, it’s hard knowing all that we accomplished my freshman year, but at the same time, having that great of a team inspires you to want to make sure that your freshman class gets such a great experience that season. Coming in and experiencing that is motivating and makes you care more about your surroundings.
“I want to make sure the team and the program overall is progressing during my last year, and then go for the gold and do whatever we can to be the best team possible. That’s not only reflected in the results, but also leaving the team feeling that we gave everything we had. If we fall, we fall together and have that feeling of no regrets. It’s hard to get there, but we have to strive every day to have that feeling of no regrets.”