Denmark, THe danish dynamite

Early history

Early on in its history, the Danes made a name for itself at the Olympics. In 1906, a team comprised of players from the Copenhagen Football Association defeated one Greek team and two clubs from the Ottoman Empire to claim the unofficial gold medal. Two years later, they placed second at the first official football tournament at the Olympics. They won another silver medal in 1912, which led to them being ranked the best team in the world by the ELO ranking.

Though these early results were encouraging, the Danish Football Federation (DBU) didn’t have much interest in international football. From 1920 to 1948, they settled for playing friendly matches and participating in the regional Nordic Championship. Even after this period, football in Denmark remained mostly an amateur pastime, which led to many of the best Danish footballers leaving the country and seeking their fortune elsewhere. A step that at the time resulted in banishment from the national team.

In 1964, Denmark took advantage of the easy draw to qualify for the European Championship, where they finished fourth after losing to the Soviet Union and Hungary. However, this result played a key role in the DBU finally deciding to allow professional players in the national team. Soon enough, professional football was introduced in the Danish leagues as well, which paved the way for a more competitive national team.

fun facts

  • Denmark’s leading goal scorer title is shared by Paul Nielsen and Jon Tomasson both with 52 goals
  • Denmark first and only international title was won at the Euro’s in 1992
Denmark 1992 Championship team
  • Denmark has not won a world cup

becoming champions of europe

Following its inaugural World Cup showing, Denmark participated at the Euro 1988. However, they recorded three defeats in a “group of death” containing Spain, Italy, and West Germany. This disappointing appearance — along with failing to qualify to the 1990 World Cup — led to a coaching change, with Richard Møller Nielsen taking over as new manager. Nielsen’s first task was to qualify for the 1992 Euro, which was to be held in Sweden.

At first, Nielsen didn’t have much success. After a comfortable victory against the Faroe Islands, Denmark drew against Northern Ireland and lost to Yugoslavia. Though this poor start led to the Laudrup brothers retiring from the national team, Denmark managed to win out the rest of their matches to place behind Yugoslavia. With Yugoslavia getting excluded from the competition due to the war sanctions, Denmark managed to book a last-minute trip to the tournament.

At the tournament proper, Denmark relied on the legendary goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and the returning Brian Laudrup. Thanks to Nielsen’s trademark brand of defensive football, they advanced from their group and defeated the Netherlands in a penalty shootout in the semi-finals. In the final match, they shocked the football world by prevailing over heavy favorites Germany, with John Jensen and Kim Wilfort scoring in a 2-0 victory.