Denmark Profile

Major Honours European Championship, 1992
Year Founded 1889

The Denmark national team, often known as Danish Dynamite, have enjoyed success in major tournaments, especially when pitted as underdogs.

Despite being a relatively small European country, Denmark's soccer team have frequently upset the odds and are renowned for their shock victory at the 1992 European Championships.

After originally banning professional players from representing the national team, Denmark's eventual abolishment of the rule has allowed them to emerge as a major force on the international stage.

Amateur years

Denmark are believed to have played their first international fixture in 1897, when they lined up against a selection of players from the Hamburg-Altona Football Association.

With a knack for developing talented players, Denmark were a prominent figure during the early 20th century. However, the Danish Football Union (DBU) opted to only send the national team for friendly matches or for regional tournaments.

After 1948, the DBU decided to allow their team to enter the Olympics, where they achieved a bronze medal, followed by a quarter-final finish in 1952. Subsequently, the DBU decided again to not contest in the following 1956 Olympics.

As a result, many Danish players chose to move abroad to make a living. However, due to the DBU prohibiting professional players from representing their national team, Denmark became increasingly less competitive.

The ban of professional players lasted until 1971, when the DBU decided to finally abolish the rule. Furthermore, in 1978 they decided to introduce professional soccer to the Danish leagues, and even found a sponsorship for the national team - popular Danish brewery, Carlsberg.

Olympic success

Despite Denmark's slow emergence on the international scene, they have often been successful at the Olympics.

In their first entry in 1906, Denmark won gold, although the soccer event was largely unofficial and was only contested by Turkey, Denmark and two Greek clubs.

However, at the 1908 Olympics in London, Denmark experienced more success in a more official tournament. Eight teams entered including France, Great Britain and Hungary, and Denmark's Sophus Nielsen set a record by scoring 10 goals in a 17-1 win over France.

Great Britain went on to win the tournament, defeating Denmark in the final to deny them back-to-back gold medals.

Denmark and Great Britain once again met in the final of the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, and Great Britain won 4-2 in front of a 25,000 strong crowd in Sweden.

Even after the DBU's ban on professional players in the national team, Denmark achieved two further medals at the Olympics - bronze in London in 1948 and silver in Rome in 1960.

Danish Dynamite era

After the DBU lifted the ban on professional players in the national team, Denmark's transition into professionalism saw them achieve more success in the 1980s with a team coined "Danish Dynamite".

Many attributed their rapid growth down to professional players joining the national team after playing abroad, which helped embed different sporting values in the squad - at the 1984 Euros, their 20-man squad contained 14 overseas players.

In 1984, Denmark qualified for their first international tournament in 20 years, partially thanks to a 1-0 win over England at Wembley. Their official song leading up to the tournament named "Danish Dynamite", gave the iconic team their nickname.

Denmark's tournament was widely considered a success, progressing all the way to the semi-finals before being knocked out via penalties to Spain.

Following their European success, Denmark qualified for their first ever World Cup in 1986. Once again the team surpassed expectations and won their group, casually beating Uruguay 6-1 in the process.

Unfortunately for the Danes, they once again met Spain, this time in the second round of the tournament, and they went crashing out after being on the wrong side of a 5-1 thrashing.

Denmark suffered a dismal end to the 1980s, failing to build on the success from both tournaments. Their participation in the 1988 Euros ended in the group stage after losing games to Spain, West Germany and Italy.

They then failed to qualify for the 1990 World Cup, which forced the resignation of head coach Sepp Piontek, who was subsequently replaced by his assistant, Richard Nielsen.

1992 European Championships

Nielsen's first task as coach was to return Denmark to an international tournament, specifically the 1992 Euros.

After starting qualification with a win against the Faroe Islands, results quickly dipped with a draw against Northern Ireland followed by a loss against Yugoslavia.

The poor start was made worse when Denmark's two best players, brothers Michael and Brian Laudrup, opted to drop out of the national team following a dispute with Nielsen regarding his management style.

Despite calls for Nielsen to resign immediately, his Denmark side won the remaining five qualification games, albeit not enough to qualify, as Denmark finished second behind Yugoslavia.

However, in a remarkable turn of events, UEFA decided to sanction Yugoslavia for their political actions, handing their place to Denmark who finished as runners-up in the group.

With just ten days to prepare for the tournament, Denmark shocked the world in the group stage. Their second-place finish behind Sweden meant they progressed ahead of both England and France.

In the semi-finals, Denmark beat reigning European champions Netherlands via penalties to set up a final with neighbours Germany.

Denmark defeated Germany 2-0 in the final to win their first major international trophy, but came under criticism for their inventive time-wasting that involved frequently passing the ball back to goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.

Recent years

Since their success in 1992, Denmark have experienced mix results in their following international campaigns.

As reigning champions in the 1996 Euros, Denmark suffered a disappointing exit in the group stage. They suffered a similar fate in the 2000 Euros, although this time they failed to win, and even to score a single goal.

They had more success in Portugal's 2004 Euros, where they reached the quarter-finals before losing 3-0 to Czech Republic.

Denmark's only other appearance since in the European Championships came in 2012 when they exited the 'group of death' which also featured Netherlands, Portugal and Germany.

After qualifying for Euro 2020, Denmark progressed to the knockout phase after finishing second in their group thanks to a 4-1 win over Russia in the final group fixture.

In the round of 16, Denmark swept away Wales in a resounding 4-0 victory, before edging past the Czech Republic 2-1 in the quarter-finals.

As one of the highest scoring teams in the competition, Denmark faced England, who were yet to concede in the tournament, in the semi-finals. A superb free-kick from Mikkel Damsgaard gave the Danes the lead, before an unfortunate own-goal by captain, Simon Kjaer, levelled the score.

With the tie poised at 1-1, it entered extra time, where Gareth Southgate's England were awarded a controversial penalty. Kasper Schmeichel saved the inital shot before Harry Kane turned in the rebound to send his side through to the final.

Denmark also reached the final of 2022 World Cup, but were eliminated in the group stages after losing to France, Australia and drawing 0-0 with Tunisia.

Danish legends

In November 2006, the DBU nominated eight Danish soccer players for the 'Best Danish footballer of all time' award. The nominated players were Morten Olsen, Henning Jensen, Allan Simonsen, Preben Elkjaer, Michael Laudrup, Brian Laudrup, Peter Schmeichel and Jon Dahl Tomasson.

After allowing the public to vote for the winner, Michael Laudrup won the award with a resounding 58% of votes.

In recent years, attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen has been at the forefront of Denmark's success.

The fanbase

Denmark's soccer team is famous for it's travelling fans, known as roligans. In an attempt to counter hooliganism in the 80s, Danish fans created the roligan movement - meaning 'calm' in Danish - to instead provide cheerful but peaceful support to their team.

They are often considered among the world's best fanbaseand were handed the FIFA FairPlay Award after the 1984 Euros.

Biggest rivalries

Denmark's main rivals are considered to be Sweden. The two nations have played against each other 107 times, with Sweden holding the better head-to-head record with 47 wins against Denmark's 40.

Despite many meetings beforehand, the nations' first competitive match was in the group stage of the 1992 Euros. Sweden won 1-0 but Denmark had the last laugh as they went on to win the tournament.

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