A trip down memory lane :-)

This weekend the European football Championship will begin in Austria and Switzerland. Unfortunately Denmark has not qualified, so I will be cheering for France and Spain instead of my home country. I just read an article about the European Championship in 1992 where Denmark delivered one of the biggest surprises football has ever seen when this tiny nation of 5,5 million people beat the mighty World Champions Germany (with more than 5,5 million registered footballers..!) in the final on Nya Ullevi in Göteborg, Sweden. 

If you are up for a trip down memory lane, you can read the whole article here, or you can read these extracts from the article and watch some of the highlights from the semifinal and the final of that incredible summer of 1992!

The second semi final saw under dogs Denmark face off against the ridiculously talented defending champions the Netherlands in a battle to face Germany in the final of Euro ’92.

Whilst all the pre-game pundits predicted a second consecutive final appearance for the Netherlands, as soon as the game started the Dutch seemed strangely muted with Denmark dictating the pace of the game from the opening whistle.

This poor start was punished by the Danes in the fifth minute when the excellent Brian Laudrup found Henrik Larsen, who headed Denmark in to a 1-0 lead.

The Netherlands were to break out of this stupor in typical fashion in the 23rd minute with Dennis Bergkamp scoring a beautifully crafted goal after tremendous work from Frank Rijkaard.

However, the Danes reacted to this set back in the most positive way possible as they seized the initiative once again from the Dutch, with Larsen proving to be the goal scoring hero for the second time as his neat shot from outside of the penalty area put Denmark 2-1 ahead.

From here on in Denmark continued to be the better team, as they continued to restrict the Netherlands of any of the possession and chances that could have seen the Oranje dominate their supposedly inferior opponents.

As such, Frank Rijkaard’s late equaliser for the Dutch in the 88th minute could have proved to be a killer blow to most teams. Denmark were not however most teams, and their surprising run to the European Championships seemed to galvanise their squad as the game lurched through extra time towards the dreaded penalty shootout.

Here, Peter Schmeichel was to prove to be the hero of the hour as his save from the Netherlands’ second penalty taker Marco van Basten was enough to see Denmark through to the final.

The Winners 

Never has a team come from further behind to claim the European Championships than Denmark did for this tournament. The Danes weren’t even supposed to make it to Sweden, as they finished behind Yugoslavia in their qualifying group. However, the tragic events of the war that erupted in the Balkan states in 1991 led to Yugoslavia being banned from Euro ’92, with Denmark being chosen by UEFA to take their place in the finals.  

The Danes’ unlikely road to victory continued in the group stages as they stumbled through to a semi final match up against defending champions the Netherlands after recording a draw against England, a loss against Sweden, and a win against a Jean-Pierre Papin inspired French team. 

In both of their subsequent games against the Netherlands and Germany they were classed as distant outsiders. However, several of Denmark’s players were to leave a significant mark on the tournament. 

Midfielder Henrik Larsen was to finish joint top scorer, Peter Schmeichel’s penalty saving heroics were to set him on the way to being proclaimed as the finest goalkeeper of his generation, whilst Brian Laudrup emerged out of the shadow cast by his absent brother Michael to provide the creative spark that was needed to edge past their more heralded opponents. 

As such, Euro ’92 remains the distinct bright spot in the history of Danish football, whilst also providing a shining example that with hard work and team spirit surprises can happen in the European Championships. 

The Final 

Coming in to this match it seemed a sad fact that the fairytale story of surprise packages Denmark would surely be coming to an end at the hands of the all conquering Germany team that they would face in the Gothenburg final. 

The opening minutes of this game more than reflected the supposed dominance of the German side as first Golden Boot chasing Karlheinz Riedle, then Stefan Reuter and Guido Buchwald all tested the impressive reflexes of goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. 

However, just as it seemed a matter of time before Germany took the lead, a questionable challenge from Danish midfielder Kim Vilfort began a move that was finished in the most surprising of styles by the perennially goal shy John Jensen to give Denmark a 1-0 lead. 

This strike knocked the wind out of the sails of Berti Vogts’ German team, and from here on in the plucky determination and belief that was coursing through the veins of the Danish players shone through as they successfully frustrated their illustrious opponents. 

The excellent performance of the Danish side was further rewarded in the 78th minute as Vilfort was once again in the thick of the action as he drove a low shot past the reach of Bodo Illgner to make the score 2-0, thus sealing Denmark’s name on the Henri Delaunay trophy. 

Denmark – Germany 2 – 0 

26th June 1992, Gothenburg 

Denmark: 3-5-2: Peter Schmeichel – Kent Nielsen, Lars Olsen (Captain), Torben Piechnik –  John Sivebæk (66 mins Claus Christiansen), Kim Vilfort, John Jensen, Henrik Larsen, Kim Christofte – Flemming Povlsen, Brian Laudrup – coach: Richard Møller Nielsen

Germany: 3-5-2: Bodo Illgner – Guido Buchwald, Thomas Helmer, Jürgen Kohler – Stefan Reuter, Thomas Häßler, Matthias Sammer (46 mins Thomas Doll), Stefan Effenberg (80 mins Andreas Thom), Andreas Brehme – Jürgen Klinsmann, Karlheinz Riedle – coach: Berti Vogts

Goals: 1-0 John Jensen (18), 2-0 Kim Vilfort (78) 

This clip is actually better. You just have to fast forward two minutes, then you get to watch all the highlights of the final and all Peter Schmeichel’s saves with an English commentator – I still get goosebumps and I feel like yelling and celebrating watching it here 16 years after it happened….! 🙂

Allez les Bleus! and Vamos Espana!



2 Responses to “A trip down memory lane :-)”

  1. June 7, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Oh yes! What a wonderful victory back then!! 🙂 I’ll never forget those wonderful June days of 1992.

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