How many Euro finals have Denmark played and won?
Denmark famously won Euro 92 in Sweden after replacing FR Yugoslavia, despite being huge underdogs and lacking their star Michael Laudrup.
Denmark failed to qualify for a major tournament for 20 years, between 1964 and 1984, when the team that would later be dubbed “Danish dynamite” secured their place at the European Championship under Sepp Piontek with a qualifying record that included a 1-0 defeat of England at Wembley as the Danes topped Group 3.
Danish Dynamite at Euro 84
The Danish dynamite moniker – which stemmed from the Euro 84 song for the side of the same name - proved to be prescient as Piontek’s side reached the semi-finals, losing against Spain in a penalty shoot-out.
Two years later, Denmark would qualify for the World Cup for the first time, having declined to enter until 1958 and also sitting out qualification for the 1962 tournament in Chile. Until 1971 the Danish national side was strictly amateur, but as professionalism was introduced and as a result of players heading abroad to hone their skills in the late 1970s and 1980s a generation of players emerged that paved the way for later successes.
At Mexico 86, the Danes’ first World Cup, the dynamite topped a group featuring all-powerful West Germany but despite scoring eight in the preliminary round Spain handed Denmark a 5-1 thrashing in the last 16. That side featured the likes of Jan Molby, Jesper Olsen, a 21-year-old Michael Laudrup and veterans Allan Simonsen – scorer of the only goal of the game against England in Euro 84 qualifying – and Morton Olsen.
After the 84 and 86 pedigrees, it was something of a surprise when Denmark crashed out of the Euros at the first hurdle in 1988, finishing bottom of Group 1 on three defeats, although their opponents were West Germany, Italy and Spain. Failure to qualify for the 1990 World Cup in Italy followed and Denmark narrowly missed out on Euro 1992 in neighboring Sweden after finishing a point behind Yugoslavia in qualifying Group 4.
However, the outbreak of the Bosnian War in June 1992 led the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, including banning the FR Yugoslavia football team from competing at Euro 92. Denmark were called in to replace them as group runners-up and famously gathered in Sweden having been called “back from the beach” with the majority of players away on holiday.
Denmark stun Europe without Laudrup
There was one notable absence in Richard Møller Nielsen’s hastily assembled group of players: star attacking midfielder Michael Laudrup, who had quit the side after a difference of opinion and declined to return for the tournament.
Nonetheless, the Danes recorded one of the greatest underdog victories in the history of sport by winning the tournament, having scraped through the group stage courtesy of Lars Elstrup’s late winner against France.
Denmark then beat holders the Netherlands in the semi-final – Peter Schmeichel making a famous stop from Marco van Basten in the penalty shoot-out – before defeating pre-tournament favourites 2-0 Germany in the final.
Schmeichel Sr backs Kasper to shine
“I think one thing he will think of is the last time Denmark was in the European Championships semi-finals, Denmark did win on penalties so he can bring that into it.” Peter Schmeichel told UK television ahead of the game. “I have learned not to look at the games with my son in it but look at it with Kasper in it and be confident enough that he is good enough to be there and therefore I don’t have to be extra nervous because he is in there. And we can be a danger to anyone. We have a chance against anyone and that type of confidence I am absolutely sure the team will take that into this game on Wednesday.”