“In Holland, everything is with the ball," he told Palace's website. “All training sessions are with the ball, all running and physical work is with the ball.
“They really like going into the detail and precision of playing out from the back, midfielders wanting the ball, a lot of possession games. So you learn to use the ball and you become really good with the ball.
“I was always a midfielder before, and that also helped me. It was only when I was 17 or 18 that I moved back – it was quite late. I really like to play at the back because you can see everything, and I think that's where my strengths come in."
There was a disadvantage, however. For all his development with the ball at his feet, Andersen was keen to perfect the basic art of defending that eluded him in his youth as a midfielder. When it comes to defending as an art form, there is only one place to go.
They didn't really focus on defending too much [in the Netherlands]," says Andersen. “There were not a lot of one-against-ones, the focus was on us having the ball. So it was nice to experience and it helped me a lot in my development, but that's why I thought it was a perfect step to then go to Italy to learn the defensive part of the game."
In Italy, defending was at the fore. Training, for Andersen, became a profoundly intense experience. “It was some long sessions," he recalls, puffing his cheeks out. “I had a really good manager [Marco Giampaolo] – he wanted to play really nice football at Sampdoria when I was there. He wanted structure in the game.
“He's like a robot. He wanted to control [the players]. It's not so free in your positioning. The offensive players were a little bit tired of him sometimes, but for me it was really good to work with the defensive back four line.
“Learning how to drop, how to use body language, whenever a guy was receiving the ball what to do. A lot of small details he was really into so that was really nice for me."
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