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Denmark Euro 92 champions: Squad, how they qualified and how they shocked Europe to win

Goal takes a look back at when Peter Schmeichel, Brian Laudrup and co stunned the continent

There have been 10 different winners of the European Championship since its inception in 1960, and the roll of honour features familiar heavyweights like Germany, Spain, France and Italy.

Denmark are also there among the list of champions, though the Scandinavian country is not necessarily what one might consider a regular contender on the world stage.

The Danes have the same number of titles as Italy and Portugal, managing in 1992 to do what England and Belgium have not.

Goal takes a look at that achievement, how they qualified, their squad and the teams they beat on the way to victory.

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How did Denmark qualify for Euro 92?

Denmark’s qualification for Euro 92 is what makes the subsequent triumph in the competition such a peculiarity, since they did not earn their place at the tournament in the traditional manner.

They had finished second in their qualification group behind Yugoslavia, after winning six games, drawing one and losing one.

Yugoslavia were due to compete at the final stage of the European Championship, but the country was suspended from competitive football by FIFA and UEFA following the outbreak of the Yugoslav Wars.

As such, Denmark, as the next-best qualifier from the group, took their place at the tournament.

“There are a lot of stories about us being on the beach,” Peter Schmeichel told Sky Sports, reflecting on the shock qualification. “We were still match fit, but completely switched off from football. We had to regain that desire to play and win football games. We didn’t have much time, but for those Euros it worked.”

Who was in the Denmark Euro 92 squad?

No. Player Age Club
1 Peter Schmeichel 28 Manchester United
2 John Sivebaek 30 Monaco
3 Kent Nielsen 30 Aarhus
4 Lars Olsen (captain) 31 Trabzonspor
5 Henrik Andersen 27 Koln
6 Kim Christofte 31 Brondby
7 John Jensen 27 Brondby
8 Johnny Molby 23 Vejle
9 Flemming Povlsen 25 Borussia Dortmund
10 Lars Elstrup 29 Odense
11 Brian Laudrup 23 Bayern Munich
12 Torben Piechnik 29 B.1903
13 Henrik Larsen 26 Lyngby
14 Torben Frank 23 Lyngby
15 Bent Christensen Arensoe 25 Schalke
16 Mogens Krogh 28 Brondby
17 Claus Christiansen 24 Lyngby
18 Kim Vilfort 29 Brondby
19 Peter Nielsen 24 Lyngby
20 Morten Brun 26 Silkeborg

The majority of Denmark’s Euro 92-winning squad was based in Denmark at the time, with four players plying their trade in Germany, one playing in England, one in France and one in Turkey.

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Peter Schmeichel was the star goalkeeper and playing for Manchester United, with Brian Laudrup, then with Bayern Munich, John Jensen and team captain Lars Olsen providing the outfield inspiration.

The squad had an average age of 26.9, with 31-year-olds Olsen and Kim Christofte being the eldest.

What was Denmark’s route to the Euro 92 final?

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Sweden 3 5
2 Denmark 3 3
3 France 3 2
4 England  3 2

Denmark were drawn in Group 1 at the final stage of the Euro 92 tournament along with England, France and hosts Sweden.

They drew 0-0 in their opening game against an England team that featured stars such as Gary Lineker, Paul Merson and David Platt. Their chances of progressing from the group took a blow when they lost 1-0 to rivals Sweden in Solna.

England had drawn their second group game against France and were well placed to advance with a favourable result against Sweden, provided Denmark lost or drew against France.

However, Denmark pulled off an upset against France, winning 2-1, and England suffered a 2-1 defeat against Sweden, with Tomas Brolin breaking English hearts. 

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Henrik Larsen and Lars Elstrup scored the crucial goals against Les Bleus and they qualified as Group 1 runners-up for the semi-final against Group 2 winners the Netherlands, who were reigning champions.

Date Match result Denmark Goalscorers
Jun 11, 1992 Denmark 0-0 England
Jun 14, 1992 Sweden 1-0 Denmark
Jun 17, 1992 France 1-2 Denmark Henrik Larsen, Lars Elstrup
Jun 22, 1992 Netherlands 2-2 Denmark (4-5 on pens.) Henrik Larsen x2

Despite going into the game against the Dutch as overwhelming underdogs, Denmark took the lead after five minutes with a Larsen header, but the defending champions responded through Dennis Bergkamp.

However, the Danes went ahead once more just before half-time, with Larsen scoring his third goal of the tournament from the edge of the box.

The Dutch looked to be heading out of the competition until Frank Rijkaard scored a scrappy goal in the 86th minute, forcing the game into extra time. 

No goals were forthcoming in the additional time, meaning penalties were required to decide which team would advance to the final.

Schmeichel saved the second Dutch penalty, which was hit by Marco van Basten, and the Danes made no mistake in any of their efforts, with Kim Christofte beating Hans van Breukelen with the decisive spot-kick.

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Denmark won 5-4 on penalties to continue their journey and progress to the Euro 92 final.

Watch Netherlands vs Denmark Euro 92 semi-final highlights

Who did Denmark beat in the Euro 92 final?

Date Match result Denmark Goalscorers
Jun 26, 1992 Denmark 2-0 Germany John Jensen, Kim Vilfort

Denmark defeated Germany 2-0 in the Euro 92 final to win their first ever European title.

The Germans came into Euro 92 having already won the tournament on two occasions and, with players such as Jurgen Klinsmann, Stefan Effenberg and Matthias Sammer in their ranks, were considered heavy favourites.

Managed by Berti Vogts (who would go on to lead them to Euro 96 glory), Germany had drawn with CIS (Soviet Union) before beating Scotland, but they closed the group stage with a heavy defeat to Netherlands. Nevertheless, they booked their place in the final with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Sweden.

Despite the fact that Germany were expected to win, Denmark did not read the script and, perhaps buoyed by their semi-final victory, took the lead on the 18th minute when John Jensen smashed a long-range shot past Bodo Illgner.

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Schmeichel was called into action on a number of occasions, notably denying a powerful Klinsmann header and coming out on top in a one-on-one with Stefan Reuter.

The efforts of the Manchester United shotstopper to keep Germany at bay were rewarded when Kim Vilfort added a second for Denmark with just over 10 minutes to play, sealing victory and stunning the continent.

Years later, Schmeichel suggested that Denmark’s unlikely victory at the tournament stemmed from a sense of self-belief that they could compete with the best players in the world.

“That comes from, not defiance, but not accepting that we are a small country,” the iconic goalkeeper told UEFA in 2015. “We [thought], ‘we have exactly the same opportunity to go and better ourselves and be the best professionals, and if we get the right circumstances we can go and do whatever job we want to do.’

“So it’s more a mentality, I think. I think that, more than anything, was why we won the European Championship.”

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Watch Denmark vs Germany Euro 92 final highlights

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