A birthday hangover usually entails waking up when you don’t want to and suffering an almighty headache that feels like someone is drilling inside your head. However, in the small, sleepy town of Næstved, located on the island of Zealand in the south of Denmark, Alan Voskuil has risen the day after his 30th birthday to a smile and a small sense of relief.
For three years, Voskuil and Denmark have gone on an international basketball losing streak that has put the country amongst the ranks of the sport’s usual whipping boys.
And it is rather strange to categorise Denmark as a ‘whipping boy’ nation, known for legendary footballers like midfielder Michael Laudrup, goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, who helped steer the nation to European Championship glory in 1992 as well as propel Manchester United to a world footballing powerhouse and his son Kasper, who has recently guided Leicester City to an unlikely Premiership triumph.
Denmark also has a successful handball pedigree with its team being one of the most decorated in European handball history. So to be listed as minnows in professional sport is something that they are not quite accustomed to, but the basketball team unfortunately comes under it.
But Denmark, were determined to end their losing streak that dates back to August 2013, when they defeated Luxembourg 87-58 in a Eurobasket 2015, first round qualifier.
And on the day that Voskuil turned 30-years-old, he headed to the Næstved Hallerne to face Germany with one present in mind: To end the streak.
Voskuil led Denmark with 22 points, and six rebounds as the Danes claimed a memorable 106-102 triple overtime win over the Eurobasket 2015 co-hosts, who are struggling in Group B with a 2-2 record.
“I said it when we got here: We are going to win on my birthday and we won, it is a great present,” said Voskuil afterwards. “It just shows how much heart and fight we have as a team, we are not going to give up, we are here to win.”
To most, it was the game of the qualifiers and the biggest upset thus far. And as Denmark travel to the Dutch city of Leiden to face the group leaders Netherlands on Wednesday, they will have a spring in their step for the first time since August 2013.
And for the birthday boy Voskuil, he will want to wake up on Thursday morning in his hotel room in Leiden with that same winning feeling he had the day after his birthday.