COPENHAGEN: Being a Norwegian was a definite handicap when Age Hareide was named as the new Denmark coach in 2015.
"In football, Denmark despises Norway, they have never liked Norwegian football," the Norwegian daily VG explained.
How things have changed in a short few years.
Denmark head for their fifth World Cup finals in Russia and under the 64-year-old Hareide's leadership, the Red and Whites have not lost an official match since October 2016, their best run in 110 years.
They qualified for Russia with a 5-1 demolition of Ireland in the play-offs.
"He not only conquered Ireland but also Denmark and all the sceptics who wondered why a Norwegian should lead the Danish national team," VG added.
He was described as "an enlightened" boss of an exceptional group that could aspire to the heights reached by the Danish side that won the European Championship in 1992, according to the Danish daily Politiken.
The former coach of Swedish side Malmo replaced Morten Olsen, who was sacked after Denmark failed to make Euro 2016.
Confident in the ability of his squad, led by Tottenham Hotspur playmaker Christian Eriksen, Hareide says his side are afraid of nobody, including Group C rivals France, Australia, and Peru.
"We have nothing to fear," the former Norwegian international told the French sports daily L'Equipe recently.
Denmark face France in their final group match on June 26.
"I saw France against Poland and Sweden... it wasn't anything special," he told the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.
A former defender with Manchester City and Norwich City in the 1980s, and capped 50 times for his country, Hareide managed the Norwegian national side from 2003 to 2008 and also had club stints with Brondby in Denmark and Molde in Norway.