Posts Tagged ‘denmark


Downsides of intercultural families

It’s a cold and quiet Friday morning in Copenhagen. I had tears in my eyes as I was walking through the streets trying to keep the insisting winter-cold out. I feel sad. Sad because of consequences of a choice that I made many years ago that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. How is that for an oxymoron?

This Sunday I have to tell my parents that our family are leaving Denmark again in July to move back to the States. It’s the right thing to do. It’s what we want to do. We sense that’s what God’s inviting us to do. I’m called to pour my life out in full-time ministry in the Body of Christ, and right now God has somewhere in America as the place where he wants me to do that. I’m excited about the prospect of getting back into devoting all my time to counsel, teach, train, lead, and through all of it point to life, liberty and hope in Jesus Christ. I’ve missed doing that dearly these last 8 months where I’ve been studying Communication and English at Roskilde University. It’s not my thing to study and look at theories and do academic projects. I’m a practical guy. Does it make a real difference in everyday life? If it doesn’t, I’m not very interested.

So I’m excited to move back to the States and continue in ministry in whatever capacity that’s gonna be. I’m excited for my dear wife and son to have other stay-at-home moms and kids to hang out with, unlike here in Copenhagen where those are extremely hard to come by.

Lots more to look forward to, but what makes my heart heavy today is the loss of leaving Denmark. The emotional loss for our family of not being able to spend a lot of quality time with our Danish family. It was tough for my family when I left Denmark to pursue God and his will for my life outside of Denmark’s borders 10 years ago. It got tougher when I had a lovely wife with me on my journeys that they would love to spend more time with as well. And since we got Marcus, the reality of missing us and us missing them has increased. And will increase with every child God will be kind enough to give us as a family. It sucks. It’s not fair. It’s not right that my parents, Marcus’ farmor and farfar, and the rest of my family, in particular my younger sister, Merete, who has been Marcus’ regular and excited babysitter during our stay here in Denmark, won’t get to see us very often. It’s not how it should be. It hurts us. It hurts them. And Marcus will be missing out on many fun and important experiences because he won’t get to be around his Danish family very much these coming years.

August 20, 2005 I said “I DO” with all my heart when Pastor Shawn Wallace asked me if I wanted to take Jeannette Lynn Thomas to be my lawfully wedded wife. Of course I wanted to do that! What a great choice I made. But I and we also made some choices on behalf of our respective families. Georgia and Ohio in the United States of America, and Herning, Stubbekøbing, and Copenhagen in Denmark are never gonna be very close to each other geographically. “The world has gotten so small”, the airlines tell us, but it still takes 8-10 hours to fly across the big ocean, and it still costs a fortune. That’s the raw reality. One set or both sets of families will miss out on as much contact with our family as they would prefer. And we will miss out of being with them. It will be different on the new earth someday. And I so look forward to that. But as far as 2013 goes, the reality is that we’re leaving Denmark this summer, and it hurts. I don’t know how to tell this piece of news to my parents. There are no clever words to say. It just sucks. They love us, and they love and adore our sweet little boy. And they won’t get to see him grow up. They won’t be nearby for his first day of school. They won’t go to grandparent day at his school. They won’t…..And tears come into my eyes again.

I love being married to my American wife. I love the craziness of being part of an international and intercultural family. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s a ton of fun, and a huge challenge. And I love it all. And yet, there are real downsides to the choice we made in 2005. We made the choice for our respective families as well. We had to. They have had to live with that. And now, my Danish family will have to work through these realities that I will present to them this weekend. It is not easy. But all I and we can do is share the reality of what’s going to happen. Share that it’s tough for us too. And then entrust my family to Jesus, and ask him to help them in the grief and surrender process that they have to go through to be able to let go of their hopes and desires and submit to what Jesus is calling our family to do. Not an easy thing to do. Real surrender is never easy. But it does make a difference. It does make letting go possible. If you love somebody, set them free, Sting sings. And he is right. It’s the only way to live.

This day is a day of contemplation and reflection for me (plus I have to write a newsletter that’s wayyyyy overdue). And this morning these were my reflections.

Blessings, Torben


About gender, abortions, and love that’s growing cold

It’s a quiet Sunday morning in Copenhagen, Denmark. Yesterday, we had a beautiful family day at the wonderful local zoo. What a treat to enjoy the gorgeous fall weather with many of God’s fun, majestic, and creative creations. This morning my thoughts are a lot more dark after I read an article in a Danish newspaper talking about how several Danish couples these days decide to go to our neighbor country Sweden to have an abortion after the 12 week-abortion-limit we have in Denmark if they don’t like the sex of the baby they’re expecting! After 14 weeks Danish couples can get see the sex of their baby through a sonogram, and doctors in both Denmark and Sweden confirm that especially well-educated Danish couples travel to Sweden to have an abortion up until the 18 week limit for provoked abortions they have in Sweden.

Thomas Tegenfeldt, executive at the Social Services in Sweden puts it this way: “Until the 18th week we (Sweden) have free abortions, and you have to execute the abortion NO MATTER WHAT THE REASON might be“.

Here is a picture of a 18 week old fetus. These days you can discard and kill this precious little baby, if you prefer a pink to a blue baby room:

This story about, as Danish media calls it, abortion tourism (taste that word. a-b-o-r-t-i-o-n  t-o-u-r-i-s-m……. :-()comes as a tragicomic end to a week where a story was published in Danish media about a Danish kindergarten where they avoid talking about ‘boy’ and ‘girl’, and do their best to present a gender neutral reality for the little ones. This idea is also inspired by Sweden, where several Swedish kindergartens have replaced the Swedish terms for ‘he’ (han) and she (hon) in songs and everyday conversation with the gender neutral ‘hen’. So in Scandinavia growing parts of the population support gender neutrality, but also kill babies because they don’t have the right sex…..! It would be laughable, if only it wasn’t so unbelievably tragic.

Jesus said it this way when he spoke about the last days before he will return: “many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:11-12). The love of most will grow cold. The chill-factor in Scandinavia is high indeed these days.

I wrote about self-hatred and self-acceptance yesterday. I wonder how well-educated, rich Danes live with themselves, if they travel to Sweden to get rid off their baby because of the unwanted sex. How do you forgive yourself, if you’ve done that? Again, the only hope for anybody is found in Jesus. He forgives anyone who comes to him and asks for help.

“Jesus, I sit this morning with a heavy and angry heart. I’m sure you share these sentiments when you think about what’s going on in these last days before you return. I pray for my country, Denmark, and our dear neighbors, Sweden. I pray for a revival among your people. I pray for your children to find out more and more about who they are in you. I pray that we, your children, may be able to speak words of comfort, hope, clarity and truth to the world around that’s falling apart on the unholy altars of selfishness and ungodliness. Come soon, Lord Jesus, when will you come and say NEVER AGAIN to all the injustices going on?”

Two songs spring to mind as I mourn the loss of the children that lost their chance to live here on earth because of an unwanted DNA-combination:

Delirious?’ Our God Reigns:


and Enter the Worship Circle’s Never Again

You feel the grieving of the broken, And You hold them in Your hands
And You listen to their prayers, their prayers

You hear the crying of the orphan, And You hold them in Your hands
And You listen to their prayers, their prayers

Wake up, God, move yourself, wicked men crush Your children
We pray…we wait, how long until you say “Never Again”

You see the bruises on the victims, And You hold them in Your hands
And You listen to their prayers, their prayers

You are King forever and ever, Your Kingdom come on down
Justice rolls like waters, like waters, where wickedness will drown

Blessings, Torben


Coming home?

In the history of this blog these past six months have been the longest hiatus without any new blog entries. In some way it surprises me. A Ukrainian friend of mine wrote me shortly after our son Marcus was born and expressed that he was looking forward to hearing me blog about my experiences as a father. For some reason that hasn’t happened. Some friends said to me that it was – of course – just because I am not sleeping quite enough these days that I don’t have many philosophical thoughts about life. It would be easy to agree with them, but I know that’s not the truth. The truth is that it’s been bugging me that I can’t seem to organize my thoughts and figure out what’s going on inside of me. I can’t seem to focus on what I want to be all about. I can’t seem to move in courage and faith into the things of God that I know he’s inviting me into. I’m afraid. Afraid of more loneliness.

A few thoughts on fatherhood now that I might have your attention. I love being a dad to beautiful little Marcus. He is a great joy to behold, even as I write where he’s laying on the floor playing in his Tennessee Volunteers pj’s that our dear friend, Tim Huddleston brought to Marcus from the Smoky Mountains state. He’s great. He’s fun. He’s lots of smiles and craziness. And yet, I’ve been almost perpetually disappointed in myself this past half year. Disappointed in my reactions when things are not easy. Disappointed in my lack of patience. Disappointed that I don’t seem to do what I need to be doing most of the time. Disappointed that my flesh is as ugly as it is when it comes to anybody invading my space and making sure that my schedule and my ideas can’t happen. Having a baby surely, at least in my case, has forced me to stare the beast of my flesh even deeper into its ugly eyes. It ain’t pretty. My wife, Jeannette, has been great at encouraging me and reminding me that I’m doing a great job as a dad. I don’t know if I believe her most of the time, but I also know that it’s been good for me with all the reminders of how Jesus deals with me when I scream, whine and won’t surrender to what’s really best for me. Marcus is a baby in my arms. And often I’m a baby in Jesus’ arms. I want to surrender, but I end up working against what I really want, just like Marcus does when he is sleepy and can’t seem to surrender to the sweet release of sleep. It’s humbling for sure. I’m glad Marcus is as forgiving and forgetting as he is. I’m glad that he always receives me with a smile and a giggle. I wish I received Jesus’ invitations with the same cheerfulness and trust. Maybe it’s trust that Jesus wants to teach me. Despite having known Jesus intimately for many years, that issue remains a problem. It’s hard to trust him. It’s hard to let go.

Coming home to Denmark has been a challenge. Is this really home? I haven’t lived in this country the past nine years, and I feel so different than I did as a young twenty-something year old sans wife and baby back in the day. Some people have said that it must be nice to be home, but I never know how to reply to that question. Sure, there is something familiar about being here in the country of my roots and with my mother tongue being spoken everywhere. But I don’t know if I feel more at home here than I do everywhere else in this world I’ve been. There are huge blessings connected to the life I’ve been living these past nine years. I love my global perspective. I love the familiarity I feel with people and cultures from around the globe. I love that I have friends where I know their hearts from Kyrgyzstan, Germany, Ukraine, the Philippines, and countless other countries. There is such a richness to that. But there is also the other side of that same coin: I belong everywhere, and in a sense, I belong nowhere. It’s been lonely since coming home. I’m struggling to find my feet under me. What am I to be all about this next year in Denmark. How do I connect with people I run into? I’ve had fun trying to talk more to people that I meet out and about. Danes normally don’t initiate conversations with people we don’t know. In fact we’ll go to great lengths to avoid conversations with strangers. But my theory has been that if someone initiates a chat, Danes are like everybody else and enjoy a little conversation. So far my theory has proven valid.

It’s been four years since I wrote this blog entry about a line that Jesus challenged me with from the film version of C. S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian. (I’m back again after a short break. Marcus just needed some kisses and hugs from his Daddy that helped assure him that’s he’s okay. Don’t we all need those times? Often?!). I’m still there. Four years later. I’m still afraid to jump fully. Some people say to me that I’ve jumped much further into the crazy waters of faith than they ever have. I know the truth is that I’m still, in many ways, standing at the edge, afraid of losing my footing completely if I fall deeper into the ravine that is Jesus’ love and Jesus’ invitation to truly let go and learn to live with him as the only center in my life. I hear his invitation, I know he won’t force me, and yet I continue to hesitate. I wonder how I would react if someone continued to hesitate to accept an invitation I extended four years ago? I’m glad Jesus doesn’t have my temper and my impatience. I’m glad he understands. I’m glad that he, despite what my flesh and unfortunately much of Christian tradition say, is never disappointed in me.

He knows I’m afraid to lose more than I feel I have. I have friends all over the world, but few in my home country. I have lots of people who care about me and us, but very few that I could call on a gray Wednesday. I have lots of people who look up to me when it comes to faith and living radically, but few I can share all my fears and struggles with. I encounter many individuals who find my story of living on support and pursuing the Kingdom of God full strength on a global scale this past decade fascinating, but few people who know how to relate to me and pursue a friendship once they hear the same story. While living in the United States I often wished that I could answer: “my name is Tom Smith, I’m from Wisconsin, and I work as a teacher” when asked to introduce myself. Somehow “my name is Torben Riis Jensen, I’m from Denmark, and I work as a missionary and Christian counselor” seemed to make it harder for people to relate to me…These days, I’m running into that here in Copenhagen too. Copenhagen, as the capital city of Denmark, is a modern, cosmopolitan city, but still it’s difficult for people I meet at church to know what to do with this scruffy-bearded young(ish) man with his tales of living in England, Ukraine, and the United States, and his stories of encountering people in Greenland, South Korea, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Moldova. Connection points are few. Sometimes I just wish I were a school teacher…(and no, I’m NOT attacking school teachers in any way, shape or form, it just happens to be a job that most people can relate to without too much explanation 🙂)

Why do I even write this? What do I want? Your pity? No. Not at all. I guess I don’t really want anything. It’s just how life is. Just how my life is. Nothing too unusual about it. Nothing that lots of people can’t relate to. But it is my reality nonetheless. Sometimes it’s nice to be seen as unique. It used to mean a heck of a lot to me. Now I don’t need it (as much) anymore. But that doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily change.

So Jesus invites me, again, into deeper life with him. Away from people. Away from friends and family. Into places I fear. Into places in the depths of my heart that will challenge, bless, and change me. I fear that change. I fear the increase in loneliness that (sometimes? often? always?)follows when you dig really deep into the beauty of Jesus. Most people will not understand. It’s how it is.

So where is home for me? Jeannette and I followed this past season of American Idol religiously. And in God’s great sense of humor he’s using the winner’s, Phillip Philipps, first single to encourage me. I thought the lyrics to Home would bless Jeannette as she’s struggling to settle into unfamiliar surroundings here in my home country. But the truth is this ain’t my home anymore than it is hers, and I can’t help her the way I wished I could. But somehow Jesus is speaking to me through this song. Maybe he’s the one who is gonna make this place our home. At least for a season. I hear the demons that fill me with fear. Fear for today. Fear for tomorrow. And I have no answer to their lies. Maybe Jesus will take care of us on this unfamiliar road as well?

Blessings, Torben


Not my sports year so far…

Hey! I doubt that anybody really cares about what I’m writing in this blog entry. But hey…it’s my blog, and I can write what I feel like 🙂 , and after just watching Brazil with the wonderful Kaká being kicked out of the football (soccer) World Cup, I need a place to voice my frustrations over this annus horribilis as far as sports go. 2010 has been disastrous in these different ways:

– My hockey heroes, Washington Capitals, dominated the regular season of the NHL with incredible statistics….but crashed out of the first round of the play-offs. Seeing Alexander Ovechkin humiliate himself at both the Olympics and the World Championships with Russia didn’t help any…

– My great loves in tennis, the Swiss elegantier Roger Federer and the young Dane, Caroline Wozniacki both failed miserably in Wimbledon that I had been looking forward to watching…

– My Danish hockey team, Herning Blue Fox, and my Danish female handball team, FC Midtjylland Håndbold also had a terrible season and made no impact in their respective playoffs

– The Danish men’s handball team flunked and came in fifth at the European Championship that they came to as defending champions…

…..and there are the real tragedies when it comes to the game I care the most about, football:

– Arsenal started out strong and ended up – again – with nothing but a lot of recognition for playing a beautiful game. But with absolutely no titles to show for the last few years, it doesn’t really matter any more how beautiful they play…

– Real Madrid, the world’s largest and historically most successful club, crashed out of the Champions League after two terrible showings against a mediocre French team, and they also came up short in the Spanish league…

– and then there is the World Cup where I was rooting for three teams: Denmark, Portugal, and Brazil – Denmark crashed out in the group stages after a terrible display against Japan. No speed, no class, no ideas, and a goalkeeper who didn’t know he was allowed to use his hands (or his brain) was the picture that they left the world with. Portugal, with the incredible Cristiano Ronaldo, just never got in gear and were sent packing by a superior Spanish team in the 1/8-finals, and just a few minutes ago, Brazil left the tournament in disgrace after having given away their victory against Holland…

– ….and now one of the two Schleck brothers, Fränk Schleck, who are the captains of the Danish cycling team, Team Saxo Bank, that I support in the Tour de France, just crashed, broke his collarbone and is out of the Tour….now we have to see what happens to Andy Schleck…:-(

It just isn’t my sports year so far…..:-(



Worship the Creator not his creation!

This passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans has been swimming around in my head during our trip to Denmark, Iceland and Greenland. Especially while being in my beloved native country Denmark and during our time in Iceland did I think of the tragedy of the way the majority of people choose to live. I write this blog entry with a heavy heart well-knowing that many people could read this, misunderstand it as me judging other people or putting myself up on some kind of pedestal, while nothing could be farther from the truth. I would be living my life completely the way that I describe in the following lines if it wasn’t for Jesus being at work in me and causing me to walk in his ways which bring life and not my ways or the ways of the world which bring death to me. I am well aware that I am as capable of falling into the depravity and destruction that so many people are in as anybody else. I just pray and trust that Jesus will always be there to lift me up when I fall. And I thank him that it’s with him as the hope for me, individuals and all the nations that I write these words that are on my heart!

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them

(Romans 1:18-32)

Unfortunately this passage written about 2000 years ago describing what was going on in the city of Rome in Italy is directly applicable to what’s going on in the world in 2009. All over the world people are worshiping the created instead of the Creator. All over the world arrogance and pride is the name of the game and not humility, love and surrender to God who is love. But these weeks these verses describe very well what I saw going on in my home country, Denmark and on the beautiful little island of Iceland just south east of Greenland. Denmark is a nation of great Christian heritage. We have had the Gospel of Jesus Christ available to our nation since around the year 700, and especially since the second Danish king, Harald Bluetooth, got baptized and decided that Christianity should be the official religion of Denmark in 950, the Gospel has been freely preached everywhere in the little Scandinavian kingdom. But today more than 1000 years later the Danes have largely forgotten about the God of the Universe! As a nation we have became proud and cold and have decided that everything concerning faith, and relationship with a God we cannot see with our human eyes is ridiculous and for a majority of modern day Danes Christianity is about as relevant for their everyday life as Greek and Roman gods of olden days. Today Christianity is still the official religion of Denmark, but it’s a watered-down version with as much resemblance to the real deal as the brown water of Coke Zero is compared to real Coca-Cola…

I always grieve when I’m in Denmark. “They did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God“, Paul wrote. And that’s true for most of the Danes. They may consider themselves to be the happiest nation on planet earth. But it’s a happiness built around self-sufficiency, selfishness, arrogance and pride. Most Danes feel so embraced by the well-functioning welfare system of Denmark that they have decided that they simply don’t need God anymore. They may do some religious activities now and then (baptism, marriage in a church, confirmation, go to church on holidays, etc.), and 81% of all Danes are still members of the Danish Lutheran State Church, but there is very little spiritual life in the little kingdom. Many Danish Christians (but certainly not all! I am blessed to know a good number of on-fire believers who are still believing in and praying forth great breakthroughs of God’s kingdom in Denmark!!) are also caught in the postmodern cycle of self-sufficiency, cynicism and pride and many of these are simply not believing that God will become important in Denmark again. God has blessed the nation of Denmark so it’s one of the richest nations in the world, but as a nation we are not in a place of worshiping God for his good gifts. Instead we have largely decided to ignore him and everything he is.

Please understand that I write all these things with a heavy heart. I don’t mean to judge anybody. That is – thank God – not my job, but I know that there are terrible consequences for the godless way so many people that I encounter live. I’m grieved by the state of my home country, and I pray and believe that God is doing a new thing even in Denmark. He is setting more and more hearts on fire for him, and God’s kingdom shall not be defeated in Denmark either, but I want to be honest about where this nation is at, so I – and maybe you, dear reader – know how to pray for Denmark.

The contrast between the natural and worshipful beauty of Greenland and the sadness I felt while being in Reykjavik, Iceland where they were celebrating a gay pride weekend was very tangible. As Paul puts it: “they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them“. I am not by any means saying that lived-out homosexuality is a worse sin than any other, but I am saying that the very fact that sin, and lived-out homosexuality is a sin that’s destroying our nations, was being celebrated and encouraged in the streets of the beautiful city of Reykjavik and that little children were handed gay pride flags to wave with was tragic to observe. It grieved me deeply and caused me once again to pray to God for life to spring forth in Iceland. Though surrounded by so many examples of God’s unbelievably beautiful and creative creation, Icelandic people are also incredibly proud people and the truths of God are very hard to proclaim on the little island.

I pray for Denmark, Iceland and the rest of the nations of the world. I pray for a revival where we walk away from the lie that Satan has tricked us into believing. The lie that says that we humans are the center of everything and that we don’t need salvation and life in Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve bought into the lie from Satan in the Garden of Eden, and ever since we have chosen to walk our own ways and not surrender to God’s love for us. I pray that the kingdom of God will break through in new and powerful ways in Denmark and in Iceland. I pray that there will be a day soon where thousands of believers will be filling the streets of Copenhagen and Reykjavik parading through the cities singing worship songs to God and testifying about the freedom, life, love and passion without any hangovers that Jesus has given to them! I pray that more and more people will come to Jesus and be healed of their shame and guilt and may experience the free and easy life that Jesus, as the only one in this entire world is capable of offering.

Blessings, Torben


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!




The happiest country in the world

Happiness according to my dictionary has to do with a sense of satisfaction, well-being, joy, etc. and apparently I come from the happiest country in the world, Denmark. Most likely a surprising result to many (including yours truly!), but according to this survey made by researchers from Great Britain’s University of Leicester a year ago, that’s the way it is:-). Watch this interesting video by ABC News talking about how strange it seems that a country with bad weather, incredibly high taxes and things like these written on an official site about the country: “very bluntly speaking, it can be claimed that the present configuration of Denmark is the result of 400 years of forced relinquishments of land, surrenders and lost battles” from can be the happiest country in the world…

Torben – who is still, believe it or not, content to not live in Denmark 🙂

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