Ronnie Michael Ekelund (born 21 August 1972 in Glostrup, Denmark) is a Danish football (soccer) player in theforward position, who played professionally in both Europe and the United States. He won two Danish football championships with Brøndby IF and two MLS Cup trophies with San Jose Earthquakes, and represented a number of clubs, including FC Barcelona and several teams in English football. Ekelund played 21 matches and scored three goals for the Danish under-21 national team and represented Denmark at the 1992 Summer Olympics football tournament. He was named 1988 Danish under-17 Talent of the Year.
Ekelund made his name known when he debuted for the Danish under-17 national team in October 1987. He scored 10 goals in 23 games for the Denmark under-17s, and was named 1988 Danish under-17 Talent of the Year. Ekelund started his professional career with Danish club Brøndby IF in 1988. He made his first team debut at the age of 15, becoming the youngest player ever to appear in the top-flight Danish 1st Division. He represented the under-17 national team at the 1989 European Under-17 Championship, and was called up for the Denmark under-21 national football team in June 1990. Ekelund was a part of the 1990 and 1991 Danish championship winning Brøndby team. He played a total 63 games for Brøndby in all competitions.
He represented the Denmark under-21 team in the 1992 Summer Olympics hosted at Barcelona, where he impressed, and was soon off to defending Spanish La Liga champions FC Barcelona. He joined Danish-Spaniard Thomas Christiansen at FC Barcelona B, the second-string team of the club. Due to league restrictions on the number of foreigners in the playing line-up, Ekelund had a hard time displacing stars like Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov and Romário in the Barcelona attack. He played a single league match during the 1993-94 season, coming on the field as a substitute and playing 33 minutes, before leaving the club.
Ekelund went to England, to FA Premier League club Southampton in 1994. In the 1994 pre-season, Southampton and Barcelona stayed at the same hotel during a training camp. Before leaving, Barcelona manager Johann Cruyff asked Southampton manager Alan Ball what he wanted as a parting gift. Ball replied “A left sided midfielder”, and the next day Ekelund was ready to play for the “Saints”. Ekelund was an instant hit at Southampton’s The Dell stadium with his skills on the ball, forming a great understanding with English midfielder Matthew Le Tissier, who Ekelund later described as being on level with Ronald Koeman and Romário. Ekelund soon suffered a back injury, and which the Southampton medical team felt that this could only be cured by surgery. As Ekelund refused to “go under the knife”, the disagreement put paid to any hopes of a permanenttransfer deal.
Ekelund underwent brief loan deals with English clubs Manchester City and Coventry City, but injuries limited his playing time there. He was loaned out to Danish Superliga clubLyngby FC, playing four games for the club in May 1996. Ekelund went back to Denmark on a permanent basis in 1996, when he moved to Odense BK. He played two Superliga seasons for Odense, before the club was relegated to the secondary Danish 1st Division. He played one season for Odense in the 1st Division before moving on in the summer 1999.
He moved to French club Toulouse FC in the second-best French league. Ekelund helped Toulouse win promotion for the top-flight Ligue 1 championship, but the manager was fired and Ekelund left the club. During a training session while on trial with English club Bolton Wanderers in the second-tier Football League First Division, Ekelund suffered an injury which forced him out of the game for three months. When he recovered, Ekelund signed with English team Walsall in the third-tier Football League Second Division in December 2000, to play under manager Ray Graydon who Ekelund knew as a coach from his time at Southampton. Ekelund played nine league games for Walsall, scoring once against Bournemouth.[ He was offered a new contract by Graydon, but decided to leave Europe in 2001.
In April 2001, Ekelund transferred to US club San Jose Earthquakes in Major League Soccer, who competed with Colorado Rapids for Ekelund’s signature. Ekelund suffered a knee injury in his first season at Earthquakes, but recovered and soon became ever-present in the starting lineup. With great passing skill and leadership qualities, Ekelund helped the team win the 2001 MLS Cup in his first Earthquakes season. In the following season, Ekelund was named in the 2002 MLS Best XI selection. In 2003, he helped the Earthquakes win the MLS Cup once more, as he scored in the 4-2 win against Chicago Fire. In 2004, the Earthquakes management team changed, and Ekelund was deemed surplus to requirements. In four seasons with San Jose, Ekelund scored 11 goals (five of them penalty kicks) and made 16 assists in the regular season. He also scored a goal and made four assists in the playoffs.
He left the team after the 2004 MLS season, and made the move to indoor soccer in 2005 joining the California Cougars, coached by his good friend and former teammate Troy Dayak. During the 2005-06 season, Ekelund offered his experience to Southampton as a coaching staff member unsuccessfully. He joined the coaching staff of the Earthquakes in 2008 as Technical Advisor, helping with the day-to-day training of the team.
Years Team games goals
1988–1992 Brøndby ? ?
1992–1994 Barcelona B 66 10
1992–1994 Barcelona 1 0
1994–1995 loan Southampton 17 5
1995–1996 loan Manchester City 4 0
1996 loan Coventry City 0 0
1996 loan Lyngby 4 0
1996–1999 Odense Boldklub ? ?
1999–2000 Toulouse ? ?
2000–2001 Walsall 9 1
2001–2004 San Jose Earthquakes 91 11
2005–2006 California Cougars 22 11
1987–1989 Denmark u-17 23 10
1989–1991 Denmark u-19 7 0
1990–1993 Denmark u-21 21 3
2008– San Jose Earthquakes (Technical Advisor)