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Euros Classic Moments: Denmark win Euros after not qualifying in 1992

We have taken a look back at an unbelievable summer for Danish football, as Denmark triumphed against the odds to win Euro 1992.

It must be a bleak summer for established teams that fail to qualify for an international football tournament.

The agony of watching players that you know well and teams that you fancy beating all competing on the world stage, while you’re left to ponder what might have been.

So what do you do?

Take a family holiday? Travel the world? Watch the tournament unfold with the rest of the footballing world? Begin a new fitness regime to get yourself ready for pre-season?

Those were the thoughts circling around the heads of Denmark’s players after they failed to qualify for Euro 92.

That was until they each received an unexpected phone call.

Denmark were going to play in Euro 92 after all and the rest, they say, is history…

How did Denmark qualify for Euro 92?

Denmark were drawn alongside Austria, Faroe Islands, Northern Ireland and Yugoslavia in their qualifying group, with only the group winners securing qualification for the finals in Sweden.

After beating Faroe Islands at home in their opening game, Richard Moller Neilsen’s side were held to a 1-1 draw in Northern Ireland, before losing 2-0 to Yugoslavia in Copenhagen in their next game.

Five straight wins followed in their remaining qualifying fixtures, including an impressive 2-1 victory in Belgrade, but it was not enough after Yugoslavia won seven of their eight matches to top the group.

But just 10 days before the tournament, Yugoslavia were kicked out of the tournament due to United Nations sanctions and the war in the Balkans.

Denmark took Yugoslavia’s place in the tournament with less than a fortnight to prepare, due to the Danes finishing second in the group.

It wasn't the ideal preparation for Denmark but then again, if you weren't supposed to be there in the first place, then what have you got to complain about?

And how Denmark seized their opportunity.

Denmark Euro 92 squad

1. Peter Schmeichel28470Manchester United
2. John Sivebaek30771Monaco
3. Kent Nielsen30503Aarhus
4. Lars Olsen31573Trabzonspor
5. Henrik Andersen27252FC Koln
6. Kim Christofte31111Brondby
7. John Jensen27431Brondby
8. Johnny Molby23140Nantes
9. Flemming Povlsen254517Borussia Dortmund
10. Lars Elstrup292311Odense
11. Brian Laudrup23255Bayern Munich
12. Torben Piechnik2940Boldklubben
13. Henrik Larsen26181Lyngby
14. Torben Frank2330Lyngby
15. Bent Christensen25168Schalke
16. Mogens Krogh2810Brondby
17. Claus Christiansen2420Lyngby
18. Kim Volfort29426Brondby
19. Peter Nielsen2420Lyngby
20. Morten Bruun26110Silkeborg

How Denmark made it to the 1992 final

The eight-team tournament involved two groups of four, with the top two of each group progressing to the semi-finals.

The Danes had a much-fancied France, hosts Sweden and an England side who had lost on penalties in the semi-final of the World Cup two years before for company.

Denmark performed well in their opening game in Malmo as they had the better of the opportunities in their goalless draw with England.

But after succumbing to a Tomas Brolin goal against neighbours Sweden, Denmark headed into the France game needing to win to have a chance of reaching the last four.

France appeared to be heading for the semi-finals when Jean-Pierre Papin cancelled out Henrik Larsen’s goal on the hour.

But Lars Elstrup put Denmark back in front with 12 minutes to go and coupled with England’s defeat against Sweden, it was enough for the Danes to progress where they would face reigning champions Netherlands.

The semi-final was a thoroughly entertaining affair that finished 2-2 at the end of normal time, after Frank Rijkaard’s equaliser for Netherlands took the game into an extra period.

The teams still couldn't be separated after 120 minutes and it was on to penalties.

Marco van Basten, the hero in Netherlands' Euro 1988 success, saw his penalty saved by Manchester United’s Peter Schmeichel and after Denmark converted all five of their spot-kicks, they reached an unlikely final.

The journey from not qualifying to being one game away from winning the European Championship was miraculous, and it was the reigning world champions Germany who stood in their way of immortality.

Denmark Euro 92

Euro 1992 final - Denmark v Germany

Gothenburg was the venue of the Euro 1992 final as Denmark looked to complete the impossible dream of winning a tournament they weren’t supposed to be at.

Germany had made it to the final after beating Sweden 3-2 in the last four, with Karl-Heinz Riedle scoring two second-half goals for Berti Vogts’ side.

They went into the final as firm favourites to lift the trophy and they had Denmark on the back foot early on, with Schmeichel called upon to make saves from Stefan Reuter and Gudio Buchwald.

It was very much a backs to the wall opening from Denmark, but they took the lead against the run of play in the 18th minute, when Flemming Povlsen picked out John Jensen, who rifled a shot past Bodo Illgner from the edge of the area.

It was just the second goal in 48 internationals for Jensen, who would subsequently move to Arsenal after the tournament.

Germany continued to dominate, but they were up against a world-class goalkeeper in fantastic form, with Schmeichel at full stretch to deny Jurgen Klinsmann before tipping Riedle’s powerful header over the bar.

It seemed inevitable that Germany would equalise but they couldn’t find a way through, and Denmark made them pay in the 78th minute.

Kim Vilfort cut inside onto his left foot on the edge of the area to fire an effort beyond the reach of Illgner and in off the left-hand post.

And that’s how it would finish. Denmark were the champions of Europe.

It was a fairytale ending to a remarkable summer for Danish fans, and to this day it still ranks as one of the most incredible stories in international football.

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