Danmark / Denmark
- Capital: Copenhagen / København
- Official Languages: Danish
- Nicknames: De rød-hvide (The Red and White); Danish Dynamite
- Association: Dansk Boldspil-Union (DBU)
- FIFA Code: DEN
- Best World Cup Result (Men): Quarter Finals (1998)
- Best World Cup Result (Women): Quarter Finals (1991, 1995)
- Best Euros Result (Men): WINNERS (1992)
- Best Euros Result (Women): Finalists (2017)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 3rd (May 1997, August 1997)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 6th (March 2007)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 51st (April 2017)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 20th (June 2016)
- Most Capped Player: Katrine Pedersen – 210 caps
- Top Scorer: Merete Pedersen – 65 goals
The Kingdom of Denmark (Kongeriget Danmark) is a Nordic country in northern Europe, situated on the Jutland peninsula and the nearby archipelago of islands in the western Baltic Sea. They have a land border with Germany, the country’s only land border but also shares a transport bridge-tunnel (a monumental feat of civil engineering) across the narrow Öresund Strait with nearby Sweden, which effectively links up the capital of Copenhagen and with the south Swedish city of Malmö.
Denmark are one of the more iconic sides in international football, however for the majority of their history, they were strictly tied into the amateur side of the game having had won the silver medal in the 1908 and 1912 Summer Olympics. For decades, they were considered one of the weaker nations in European football and it wasn’t until the late 1970s, when the DBU introduced professionalism into their national leagues did Denmark’s fortunes in international football rapidly improve. Blessed with an exceptional generation of players, who had embraced professionalism and played around the European leagues, did Denmark finally appear in the major tournaments. Their debut tournament was the 1984 European Championships, when they stunned and entertained European supporters as they made their way to the semi-finals, losing only to Spain on penalties. However the 1986 World Cup would be Denmark’s high point (at that time). Complete with the iconic Hummel-made shirts (which are the most in demand shirts in football), they won their ‘group of death‘ by finishing ahead of West Germany, Uruguay and Scotland to progress to the knockout stage. Alas that swashbuckling side were completely undone by Spain (them again) in the Round of 16, who defeated them 1-5.
Despite the glorious generation of the 1980s under mastermind Sepp Piontek, they failed to pick up any silverware. However in 1992, Denmark pulled off one of the greatest footballing stories of all time. Despite not qualifying for that year’s Euros tournament, held in neighbouring Sweden, the Danes got the late call to join the tournament after their group winners, Yugoslavia, were banned from competing due to sanctions as a result of the impending breakup of the country. Having literally called back players who were on their post-season holidays, and without talisman Michael Laudrup who had fallen out with the coach, the team progressed out of their group, defeated the defending European champions Netherlands on penalties, and then defeated the World Cup champions Germany 2-0 in Göteborg to win their first major trophy. An incredible achievement for a side who were not originally scheduled to compete!! Since then, Denmark have continued to qualify for World Cups and European Championships in both the men’s and women’s game. Naturally the men’s team have not gotten near to the standards of the team of the 1980s and 1990s, but the women’s side are constantly improving. In the 2013 Euros, they reached the semi-finals and in the last women’s Euros, they got to the final of the tournament before losing 2-4 to their Dutch hosts. Both sides are scheduled to play in their respective upcoming European Championships with both Danish national teams considered to be in the top-tier of the European football pyramid.
[NOTE: We would highly recommend you read ‘Danish Dynamite‘ by Rob Smyth, Lars Eriksen & Mike Gibbons which mentions further the rise of Denmark’s team, and that iconic side of the 1980s. It can be found on Amazon HERE.]
Talking about one of the most iconic sides (with their iconic shirts) in international football, who shocked European football when they won the 1992 European Championships having replaced the rapidly disintergrating Yugoslavia in the tournament, we interviewed the very knowledgeable Martin Plays CM. the co-chairman of the Championship Manager 01/02 Super League. The Super League is described on Twitter as “the most competitive, entertaining and immersive online football tournament, based on the all time undisputed pinnacle of football management simulation“. In additon, he produces excellent YouTube video series of his Championship Manager saves that he plays on CM 01/02, currently playing through his ‘Cursed Cruisers‘ series. To find his social media accounts and YouTube channel, follow the links below:
Adding their opinions on the Danish men’s national team is the excellent Twitter account, Danish Footy. As you would expect from their name, they cover all news involved with Danish football, either in the Danish Superliga, Danish players playing abroad, or the national team, all in the media of the English language. To follow their social media account, follow the link below:
- Twitter: @DanishFooty
Key: MP = Martin Plays CM; DF = Danish Footy
Q. Who would you say is your country’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
MP: There are a couple of candidates who spring to mind, and if we take them in chronological order the first one is Allan Simonsen. Famous for being perhaps the only player to move from FC Barcelona to Charlton Athletic, and the scorer of the most important goal in Danish football history (Wembley, September 1983 – a 1984 European Championships qualifier). However, he also won the Ballon d’Or in 1977 ahead of Michel Platini, Kevin Keegan, Johan Cruyff, and Roberto Bettega along with a several national titles and a UEFA Cup with Borussia Mönchengladbach. The second candidate is the more obvious choice of Michael Laudrup, the most naturally gifted European player in history, with numerous titles and accolades to his name. Ultimately there can be only one, and for me that player is Peter Schmeichel. Not only the most complete goalkeeper to ever play the game, but also the best on his day in pretty much every category of the art, with perhaps just his technical ability being of a lesser standard than the best modern keepers. He also more or less single-handedly won us the 1992 European Championship, so for that reason alone he would be my pick for the best ever
The best ever manager is without doubt Sepp Piontek who dragged us from “happy to be here” amateurs to serious contenders in just a few short years. From 1958 to 1978 we won a total of five World Cup qualifying matches out of 26, Sepp took over in 1979, and in the 1982 qualifying we won 4 out of 4 and only narrowly missed out on qualification. Immediately after he manage to secure qualification to Euro ’84, casting aside any doubt that Denmark would be here to stay. We had been at the Euros before in the 60s, but only thanks to a replay victory over Luxembourg, after beating Malta and Albania in the previous qualifying rounds. Under his guidance we finished 3rd at Euro ’84, won the hearts of the footballing world in the Mexico ’86 World Cup, before eventually leaving the role after a disappointing Euro ’88, and failing to qualify for Italia ’90.
DF: The best player is by no doubt Michael Laudrup. Not even close to any others. Best manager? That’s difficult, but I would say Richard Møller Nielsen as he won the 1992 European Championships as Danish manager.
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?
DF: Preben Elkjær. He was a joker and jokester amongst his peers. Also a great player.
MP: With a relatively small player pool, Denmark don’t have a huge number of “meme” players or cult heroes. You are either good enough and play, not good enough and don’t. I could name a few such as John Jensen and Henrik Larsen who overcame their lack of talent and through sheer determination performed very important roles in winning Euro ’92. Alternatively, there is Søren Lerby, famous for refusing to wear shin guards and for playing two games on same day (Denmark versus Ireland and Bayern Munich versus Bochum on 13th November 1985), or more recently Jon Dahl Tomasson of Newcastle “fame” our international top scorer with 52 goals. Would they qualify as “cult” though? I’ll let others decide.
Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player in the Danish national side currently?
MP: Despite making the frankly terrible decision to move to Inter, Christian Eriksen is currently our best player. Closely followed by Simon Kjær, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, and Kasper Schmeichel.
DF: Currently, it’s Inter’s attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen.
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?
DF: It’s very good at the moment. We are very high up on the FIFA world rankings [12th position in the rankings as of February 2021] so… we are playing well at the moment.
MP: The current Denmark team is probably the strongest since the mid-80s. We lost on penalties to finalists Croatia at the 2018 World Cup, we are currently ranked 12th in the world, and I think Belgium is the only team to beat us in 90 minutes in a competitive game since Montenegro in 2016 (I could have made that up). We have a new manager, Kasper Hjulmand, who is a bit of an unknown quantity, but we don’t usually go for big name managers so I’m quietly confident for the future.
Q. Are there any Danish players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?
MP: There are few prospects such as Jacob Bruhn Larsen (22) who started his career at Dortmund but recently moved to Hoffenheim. Kasper Dolberg (23) was very promising at Ajax, but seems to have stalled a bit after moving to Nice. Both could still come good, but the most interesting prospect is forward/winger Mikkel Damsgaard (20) who signed for Sampdoria last summer. Finally let’s not forget Pierre-Emile Højbjerg who is actually only 25 and still has many years of top-level football ahead of him.
DF: I got three: Kasper Dolberg [23 year old forward at OGC Nice], Joakim Mæhle [23 year old right-back at Atalanta] and Mikkel Damsgaard [20 year old winger/forward at Sampdoria].
Q. Looking at Denmark’s international history, what would you say has been the best game, result or performance for the national team in your opinion?
DF: The best game was against Germany in the EURO ’92 final. We won 2-0 and won against the defending world champions. Can’t get any better than that. Also in the 1986 World Cup group stage where we beat Uruguay 6-1.
MP: The best game, result and performance is without doubt our 4-2 victory against the Soviet Union on 5th May 1985. The weather, the performance, the goals, the importance of the match, it just had everything and the full 90 minutes are available on YouTube. Yes, the Euro ’92 final was an awesome result, but it was a poor game. The 6-1 demolition of Uruguay in 1986 was also a good game, but the weather and the early red card really had a huge impact.
Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?
MP: Any game against Spain. The penalty defeat at Euro ’84, the 5-1 humiliation to Spain in Mexico ’86, the 1-0 defeat with the corrupt referee in 1993. More reasonable Danes might point to the 0-4 result at home to Armenia in 2013 which I fortunately didn’t watch.
DF: We lost the final World Cup qualifier in Spain 0-1 in 1993. That was a low point as we could have qualified for the 1994 World Cup if we had drew or won that game.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Danish national team?
DF: The best thing is you get to see the best players from your country playing together. The worst thing is the friendlies. The quality is not that high (for the most of times).
MP: Supporting a team where you take nothing for granted, laugh off defeats and terrible performances and celebrate highlights for the rest of your life. We might have lost a bunch of games, and had genuinely awful players in our starting 11 on many occasions, but it doesn’t matter. We are still the best fans in the world, our team is the best in the world and when we lose, it’s very rarely our fault. There are no downsides to supporting Denmark really, apart from being unable to pronounce the names of the players, unless you are Danish.
Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?
MP: I really hope not. Although having said that, we often release an “international tournament single” when we qualify for a major tournament. Usually with zero artistic relevance and integrity, apart from Nephew’s ‘Danish Way To Rock‘ from 2010.
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?
DF: I’ve got two: The ’86 World Cup jersey is a classic in all of world of football. Everyone knows the striped shirt. Then the 1992 home shirt as well as we won the European Championships in that top.
MP: The most iconic shirt, is almost one of the most iconic shirts full stop. The 1986 candy/pin-stripe number we wore at Mexico ’86. Personally, I prefer when they keep it simple with a plain red with white accents, but I’m not a huge shirt guy.
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Danish national team?
MP: Stability. Continue to qualify for international tournaments, continue to get good results, and give the best fans in the world something to hope for and to smile about.
DF: Keep developing talent that can play football on a high level. Not saying we will win anything in my lifetime, but be able to compete. Then we’ll take it from there.
A massive mange tak to Martin and Danish Footy for answering our questions on Danish Dynamite. Remember you can find their excellent accounts in the links at the top of the blogpage.
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