Denmark and Jonas Knudsen put family ahead of football at the World Cup

Jonas Knudsen has had, to say the least, quite a week. Last Monday, he arrived in Russia with the rest of the Denmark squad. On Tuesday, his wife Trine gave birth to their first child, three weeks prematurely. On Wednesday, his Danish teammates came to him and said they'd clubbed together to pay for a private plane back home so he could see his new daughter.

Knudsen stuck around for Denmark's first game of the tournament, their 1-0 win over Peru on Saturday, but straight afterwards he was on the plane. After around 30 hours with his now expanded family, he was back in Russia on Monday, ready for their encounter with Australia on Thursday -- a match that ended in a 1-1 draw leaving his team all to play for in their Group B finale against France.

It's been quite a week.

"It's been crazy, absolutely brilliant," Knudsen told ESPN FC, with the giddy smile of a new father. Or, at least, a new father who hasn't been around for nappy changing and sleep deprivation.

"Everybody is good now. It was an emergency C-section, but she's alright, that's the most important thing. It was absolutely brilliant to come back and see her. It's different than on FaceTime or Skype. To feel her in my hands or on my body."

Baby Knudsen doesn't have a name yet, bud dad said both mother and daughter are doing well, adding: "We have a few [names] up there, but we haven't taken the decision. They're both good, both improving, so it's perfect.

The Danish squad made the decision to charter the flight for no reason more complicated than it's the sort of thing you do if you can to help a friend. The team's management apparently weren't crazy about the idea, which is understandable: taking time out of preparation for such a crucial game is clearly not ideal. But the squad insisted, knowing there are more important things in life than mere football.

It's not the first time it has happened to this Danish squad either: just before the tournament, Christian Eriksen left their preparatory camp briefly to see his newborn son.

"You've got to look beyond football and to the human being, so we'd have done everything so he could go and see his newborn baby," said goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who has two children himself, on Wednesday. "I can hardly imagine how difficult it was for Jonas to get the message without being able to be there. So there was no doubt that as a team we would help him."

Knudsen's grin only got wider when asked about the generosity of his colleagues. "Oh yeah. It's absolutely brilliant. Big, big thanks to them, to give me a private flight to go and see my daughter. I can't thank them enough for that.

"How can you say thanks enough for that? It's my first time as a dad, and they booked a private flight for me. It's incredible. It's such a big thing to be able to see her."

On a more prosaic level, the gesture was an indication of the good feeling around the Denmark team at the moment. Spirits are high, and not just because of their good results.

"This team, we've been together for two years now, what a group we are," Knudsen says. "Everybody sticks together, everybody helps each other. This mentality we have to stick together is very important."

Ipswich defender Knudsen has yet to actually play at the World Cup, but even if he doesn't set foot on the pitch at all in Russia, it will be one he'll remember vividly.

"Everybody around the team, they've been absolutely brilliant to me," he said. "From the doctor to the physio to the team manager -- everybody has done everything perfectly."