How Denmark won the 1992 european soccer championship

TV2 Zulu (ubertrendy danish TV channel) has just finished showing all of Denmarks games from that glorious summer ten years ago, and it brings back to mind one of the most unlikely tales in sports history.

Denmark went into the tournament as rank outsiders. We didn’t even qualify, we were just called in to make up the numbers after Yugoslavia was banned because of the civil war in the balkans. While the other teams had had months to prepare, the announcement that Denmark would participate instead of Yugoslavia came ten days(!) before the start of the tournament.

Denmarks best international result until then had been a place among the best 16 in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico (unless you go back to -56 where we won an olympic silver medal).

And yet we won in -92! Always with the smallest possible margins, always with luck on our side, never doing more than the minimum requirements, and yet eliminating teams like England and Holland, to finally beat Germany 2-0 in the final. Ask any dane above the age of 18, and he or she will probably be able to tell you what they were doing on that day.

And how did we do it? The most important reason was a good team, with few strong individualists. The danish team seemed to fight for each other, every player backing up his team-mates. Luck played into it, and we had plenty of it that summer. We had so much luck, that it couldn’t just be a coincidence. Also, we were the outsiders. We had nothing to lose and everything to win. We went in to every game with no expectations. It would have been irrational to expect anything of the team under the circumstances. And yet we won. Might there be a lesson here?

And if you’ll excuse me, I will now lean back in my chair for a moment, think back on those days, and enjoy that irrational, beautiful, warm, glowing feeling I always get when I’m reminded of it – even now ten years later.

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