He may not know where he will be playing next season, but Peter Løvenkrands intends to continue his charity battle in memory of his dad. Chief sports writer Mark Douglas reports
PETER Lovenkrands is sweating on his Newcastle United future – and that isn’t just down to the Dubai sun.
The Danish striker knows he might be nearing the exit door but with United delaying the release of their retained list, he isn’t giving up hope on another year on Tyneside just yet.
Newcastle need bodies to help them mount an assault on Europe next year and in the vastly experienced Løvenkrands, Alan Pardew has a ready-made squad member who could add something different to the mix.
Age and the hierarchy’s demand for continuing evolution probably stands in his way as United look to regenerate their forward line once again.
But whatever footballing fate awaits him when he returns from a family break in the Middle East at the end of the week, there will always be a sense of perspective for the 32-year-old. As he points out, he has fought bigger battles since first arriving on Tyneside – and will continue to do so wherever he is playing his football next term.
Løvenkrands won respect and admiration for the way he coped with the death of his father Bent, who passed away in 2010 after suffering with Alzheimer’s.
The Dane wants to turn heartache into a force for good and has already raised nearly £22,000 with a series of club-backed auctions at the end of last season.
He intends to step up the fundraising initiatives next season and is about to be appointed as an ambassador for the Danish Alzheimer’s Society.
But, as he tells The Journal, it is difficult to look too far ahead with so much uncertainty still surrounding his black-and-white future.
“I haven’t heard anything yet – I’m just taking a bit of time of time with my family and my agent is looking into things. But of course I would like to stay at Newcastle,” he says.
“I don’t want to be seen to be begging or anything but I would love to be able to stay. If that’s not the case that’s fine, it’s just the way it is in football. It would be fantastic to stay – Newcastle is a fantastic club on and off the pitch and I have really, really enjoyed my time there.
“It is just a shame the way it ended because I wanted to go out on a bit of a high but I actually ended up getting probably one of the worst injuries of my professional career.
“I’ve certainly not been out for that long but I wanted to cheer from the sidelines and try and keep the lads going because it is a fantastic dressing room which has a terrific team spirit. It would be sad to leave that behind, to be honest.”
Løvenkrands knows better than most how that dressing room can rally behind one of its members when they are in distress.
In 2010, as Newcastle toiled in the Championship, the popular forward played through the toughest moments of his life when his father fell seriously ill back in Denmark. Few knew of the turmoil he was going through but just hours after he passed away, Løvenkrands returned to Tyneside to play in a crucial game against West Brom and scored.
The tearful, cathartic celebration was one of the moments of that memorable campaign – and Løvenkrands admits that he will never forget the reaction of the city as he was grieving. “The way that they were, it just took my breath away,” he said. “To be honest, at the time I was really going through it. It was so difficult for my and it was heartbreaking what was happening but football was a release for me.
“I was getting back into the changing room and with the banter of the lads and you could almost forget what was happening while you were on the pitch. But that night will stay with me forever.”
If he is to leave this summer, Løvenkrands will depart with the best wishes of all at a club where he gave his all and played a crucial part during some tough days. His legacy is assured and his little part in Newcastle United’s history should be recognised. For his part, Løvenkrands hopes that the reward is continued backing for his impressive campaign to try and help the fight against Alzheimer’s.
With big fundraising plans on the horizon, he may end up tapping into the generosity of United fans once again in the future.
“It is an awful, debilitating disease and it just hits you when you least expect it,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about it until my father was struck with it. It rips families apart and I hope that I can use my profile to help raise a bit of awareness and funds in the fight against it.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play for clubs where the fanbases are so big and supportive. I’ve had nothing but support and I’d like to thank the Newcastle supporters for the way they got behind it last season.”
FOR more details on Løvenkrands’ fundraising efforts, follow him on Twitter via @Lovenkrands11.