AFI’s All-Europe Team: Kicker – Phillip Friis Andersen, Hamburg Sea Devils

When the Hamburg Sea Devils‘ final field goal attempt of the 2021 ELF season fell short of the crossbar and ended their championship hopes, perhaps for the first time in football history, nobody blamed the kicker.

That’s because the mere fact that the team felt comfortable attempting a 62-yard kick with the game on the line was a testament to the incredible ability of Phillip Friis Andersen. He would have been good from 60. No one begrudged him the extra two yards.

When it came to selecting the AFI All-Europe kicker, Andersen was a shoe in, the clear and obvious choice. Perhaps the only true difference maker at the position on the continent, the ELF’s Special Teams Player of the Year was exactly that, special, all throughout the league’s inaugural season.

Through 12 games, the Danish leg hit 26 of his 32 kicks through the uprights and made three of five from outside of 50, while also going 34 of 38 on extra points. In moments where the Hamburg offense floundered, Andersen kept them alive by himself with his ability to hit a kick from anywhere on the field, including a record-setting 59-yarder. When even he was too far out of range, he provided field flipping ability as a punter, averaging more than 44 yards per kick.

None of this came as a surprise to anyone who had followed Andersen’s career. In 2019, the former Berlin Rebel signed an NFL contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, becoming a rare player to sign right from a European league. That opportunity didn’t pan out, but Andersen has only gotten better and it’s only a matter of time before another pro franchise comes sniffing around.

Until then, simply being the best in Europe will have to suffice.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.