The Danes defy the odds to lift Euro ’92.
Long before Greece would shock Europe and win Euro 2004, Denmark defied the all the odds at Euro '92 despite a number of factors conspiring against them.
A week before the tournament Sepp Piontek’s team weren’t even due to compete. But after Yugoslavia were barred from entering the competition due to the country being in a state of civil war, the Danes were drafted in as a late addition.
The finals were hosted in neighbouring Sweden and the Danes were to compete in a group with the hosts, France and England. The shock started to really take shape when the underdogs finished second and advanced to the semi-finals.
Coming up against pre-tournament favourites Holland the odds were heavily stacked against them. But the ultra-attacking team of Henrik Larsen, Lars Elstrup and Michael Laudrup had other ideas. As the Danish supporters’ song went: they were red, they were white, they were Danish Dynamite.
A brace from Henrik Larsen cancelled out Dutch goals from Dennis Bergkamp and Frank Rijkaard, sending the game to extra time. With both sides beginning to tire the extra 30 minutes brought no more goals and it was time for penalties.
And that was where the other side of the great Danish team came into play. The attacking flair is what will always be remembered for but what they also had was the added bonus of one of the world’s greatest ever goalkeepers between the posts.
Peter Schmeichel would prove his status, saving Holland’s second penalty of the shootout from Marco van Basten, leaving Kim Christofte to fire home the Scandanavian side’s fifth penalty and take then to the final.
The final would see Piontek’s side come up against the considerable might of a newly reunified German side. The game was a tight one with Germany creating more opportunities but Schmeichel again proved to be the hero by denying Karl-Heinz Riedle, Stefan Reuter and Guido Buchwald in the early stages.
Then, after 18 minutes, the Danish Dynamite kicked into action thanks to an explosive strike from Brondby midfielder John Jensen. As the game reached the closing stages the favourites became more and more desperate and that was when Denmark would strike again.
With 11 minutes to go midfielder Kim Vilfort made a rare foray into the final third, eluding two challenges before drilling the ball past Bodo Illgner. The Danish fairytale was complete. Just a month after being outside of the tournament, they had gone on to win the whole thing.