How Denmark received Euro 92: ‘We didn’t have the very best gamers, however we had the very best crew’


That is the newest in our fortnightly collection concerning the 16 triumphant groups within the European Championship earlier than the seventeenth version is performed in Germany this summer season.

Thus far, we’ve checked out the Soviet Union in 1960, Spain in 1964, Italy in 1968, West Germany in 1972, Czechoslovakia in 1976, West Germany once more in 1980, France in 1984 and the Netherlands in 1988. This time, it’s Denmark in 1992.


Perhaps the strangest worldwide event victory ever.

Denmark received Euro 1992 regardless of having not certified for the competitors within the first place. They had been granted entry lower than a fortnight earlier than the event after Yugoslavia had been banned from collaborating by UEFA because of the conflict of their nation.

Yugoslavia’s place was as a substitute awarded to the runner-up of their qualifying group — Denmark. When the choice was made, the Yugoslavia crew had been already in Sweden (the host nation) at their coaching base for the event.

Denmark weren’t sufficiently ready for the event, though the concept that all of the gamers had been on their holidays is barely exaggerated. A pair had been taking a brief break, however the Danish league marketing campaign completed solely two weeks earlier than the opening match and the nationwide aspect had been scheduled to play a pleasant in opposition to CIS, the short-lived substitute for the Soviet Union, every week earlier than the Euros.

Denmark’s success got here in a month when the nation was already within the information throughout Europe after the citizens narrowly voted ‘No’ within the referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, which was briefly thought-about a severe barrier to the formation of the European Union (then the European Financial Neighborhood), which however did occur the next 12 months. “In the event you can’t be a part of them, beat them,” joked Danish international secretary Uffe Ellemann-Jensen after Denmark’s shock entry to Euro 1992.

One factor Denmark and their supporters had on their aspect was geography. Their first recreation of the event was in opposition to England in Malmo — today a fast journey over the Oresund Bridge, however even within the days earlier than it was constructed, a brief ferry trip from the Danish capital Copenhagen.

The supervisor

Richard Moller Nielsen was not a preferred determine going into the event. A defender who had earned two Denmark caps three many years earlier, Nielsen had received two championships in his dwelling nation as a supervisor however had additionally been assistant to Sepp Piontek, the nationwide coach.

Nielsen on the touchline throughout the event (Neal Simpson/EMPICS by way of Getty Photos)

Piontek was well-known for constructing an adventurous aspect that grew to become the impartial’s favourites at World Cup 1986, however his assistant Nielsen needed much less leisure and extra construction. His means of taking part in was fundamental, defensive and moderately unglamorous, extra consistent with what we are likely to affiliate with Scandinavian soccer.

His goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, was pressured to apologise to his supervisor after saying to the media that whereas Piontek had made Danish soccer “higher class”, Nielsen had made it “decrease class”.

His strategies had been so defensive that Michael Laudrup, the best participant at his disposal and absolutely the best Danish footballer ever, walked away from the nationwide aspect, saying he would refuse to play till Nielsen was changed as supervisor. His brother, Brian, additionally stop. Clearly, this made Nielsen unpopular throughout the nation.

However when Denmark’s entry to Euro 1992 was confirmed, Brian returned to the fold. Michael refused and watched the event on tv on vacation within the USA. Denmark’s biggest participant due to this fact missed out on their biggest second. He did return a 12 months later, although, and performed at each Euro 1996 and the 1998 World Cup.


Denmark used a 5-3-2 and had for a number of years, though there have been some essential tweaks because the event progressed. After they began with a tedious 0-0 in opposition to England and a 1-0 defeat in opposition to hosts Sweden, Nielsen dropped misfiring striker Bent Christensen and introduced in attacking midfielder Henrik Larsen.

This proved essential for 2 causes. First, Larsen scored the opener within the shock 2-1 win over France that sealed qualification for the knockout stage, then one other two within the 2-2 draw with Netherlands within the semi-final.

Second, it allowed Brian Laudrup to take up a extra superior place, from the place he was Denmark’s key attacking participant, notably on the break, taking part in off major striker Flemming Povlsen, a kind of centre-forwards who does the soiled work properly, doesn’t rating a lot, and someway appears to thrive at worldwide stage.

Brian Laudrup on the ball within the last (Simon Bruty/Allsport/Getty Photos)

This was how they lined up for the ultimate, after a slight rejig in defence as a result of left wing-back Henrik Andersen suffered a severe knee harm within the semi-final.

It was broadly a counter-attacking strategy from Nielsen’s aspect, with a mass of strong defenders and the hard-working, tough-tackling John Jensen in entrance. However they definitely threw gamers into assault, with all three midfielders popping up in superior positions and the wing-backs pushing ahead aggressively, too.

Key participant

Brian Laudrup produced some fantastic wing play in opposition to France and notably in opposition to the Netherlands within the semi-final when he ran Frank de Boer ragged.

However realistically, it was Schmeichel. One 12 months into his spell at Manchester United, the goalkeeper was one among comparatively few Denmark gamers who performed abroad. He endured a shaky recreation within the goalless draw in opposition to England, with striker Povlsen telling the media: “Some individuals have mentioned we have now the very best goalkeeper on the planet — I ponder why we didn’t carry him with us.”

However he was excellent for the remainder of the event. Significantly noteworthy was his aggression when coming for crosses, usually taking out his team-mates in his desperation to say the ball.



Rebooted: Analysing Peter Schmeichel, the Premier League’s biggest goalkeeper

Within the semi-final in opposition to the Netherlands, he was caught out by Dennis Bergkamp’s shot, which introduced the Dutch their first equaliser, however made a vital save within the shootout from Marco van Basten. He once more excelled within the last along with his trademark save from Stefan Reuter, spreading himself large to come back out on high in a one-on-one, and likewise a flying save from a Jurgen Klinsmann header, amongst a number of different effective stops.

Schmeichel saves from Van Basten within the semi-final shootout (Simon Bruty/Allsport/Getty Photos)

It’s additionally value stating that Schmeichel was the important thing man in one among Denmark’s major ways — the backpass. Within the final event earlier than the introduction of the backpass legislation, which banned goalkeepers from dealing with passes intentionally performed to him by a team-mate, Denmark took full benefit.

They usually knocked 30-yard backwards balls from defence or midfield to Schmeichel, who would choose up the ball, waste time after which hoof it downfield. Schmeichel, to his credit score, has since admitted to being barely embarrassed that Denmark received the event in such a vogue and has referred to as the backpass legislation ‘the very best rule change in soccer ever’.

You is likely to be shocked to be taught…

Denmark initially didn’t appear to take the event notably severely — they assumed they might solely be in Sweden for the three group matches earlier than elimination. That carefree strategy continued all through the event, with Nielsen surprisingly lax by way of self-discipline.

As detailed by Dave Farrar in an article for Blizzard journal, a few of the issues the Danish gamers recall from the event embody an impromptu spherical of mini golf on the eve of their essential last group recreation, having Burger King for dinner two nights earlier than the semi-final, and their companions staying within the crew lodge the evening earlier than the ultimate — after realising German followers had already booked up all of the Stockholm lodge rooms.

The ultimate

Even after sneaking previous the Netherlands within the semi-final on penalties, Denmark had been nonetheless big underdogs in opposition to Germany. That they had a a lot weaker squad and a day much less of relaxation and nonetheless appeared shocked they remained within the event.

Germany began a lot stronger, with Schmeichel pressured into motion on a number of events all through the primary half. As varied Denmark gamers admitted afterwards, an early concession most likely would have been not possible for them to recuperate from, however then, completely in opposition to the run of play, they took the lead by means of an unlikely supply.

Jensen was thought to be an extremely wayward shooter, a fame that will endure throughout his subsequent interval at Arsenal, however on this event, on the sting of the world, he linked brilliantly with a right-wing cutback and slammed the ball contained in the close to submit. Martin Tyler’s commentary for British tv underlined the shock. “Sure! Jensen! John Jensen has lastly obtained one proper!”

However the actual hero was Schmeichel, offering an outstanding efficiency for a aspect who, in all honesty, had been barely able to holding Germany again. Denmark wanted a second objective, nevertheless, to be secure.

The defining second

Amid the tales of the Danes getting back from their holidays and taking the Euros solely half-seriously, there was a tragic private story.

The second objective within the last got here from Kim Vilfort, a midfielder who ran in behind, reduce inside and slammed the ball dwelling off the close to submit.

Vilfort scores within the last (Neal Simpson/EMPICS by way of Getty Photos)

Vilfort had spent the event travelling between Sweden and Denmark to be along with his younger daughter Line, who was terminally sick with leukaemia. The Danish FA had been merely stating that he was absent from coaching for private causes. When one media outlet reported the precise motive for his absence, his struggling grew to become a public occasion, a lot to the household’s dismay.



Denmark’s 1992 hero Kim Vilfort, the person who made the fairytale come true amid private tragedy

Vilfort has rejected the ‘hero’ tag and solely returned twice from Denmark to play within the semi-final and last after encouragement from his household, who didn’t need him to overlook what was the most important few weeks in his sporting profession. Line died shortly after the event.

Have been they the very best crew?

They didn’t initially qualify, had been 50-1 outsiders (and 150-1 after failing to attain of their first two matches) and solely truly received two video games within the event. In addition they rode their luck at instances, sealing their development in opposition to France with a objective that appeared offside and placing the ultimate to mattress with that Vilfort objective that absolutely concerned a handball.

However equally, you possibly can’t quibble with Denmark’s path to glory — after no objectives and one level from their opening two matches in opposition to England and Sweden, they subsequently obtained previous France, the Netherlands and Germany, three of the pre-tournament favourites, and the scorelines had been 2-1, 2-2 and 2-0.

For all of Nielsen’s concentrate on defensive form, they did rating six objectives in three video games in opposition to high opposition. “We had unbelievable spirit,” mentioned Vilfort. “We didn’t have the very best gamers, however we had the very best crew.”

(Prime picture: Getty Photos)


Supply hyperlink