KASPER SCHMEICHEL has taunted England ahead of their big Euro 2020 semi-final and sneered: How can it come home when you’ve never won it?
Schmeichel and Denmark stand in the way of Gareth Southgate’s side and a place in Sunday’s European Championship final amid a wave of optimism across England.
But the Leicester star dismissed the ‘It’s Coming Home’ message sweeping the nation – because unlike Denmark the Three Lions have never won the Euros.
Schmeichel, 34, said: “Has it ever been home? Have they ever won it?
“Nineteen-sixty-six? Was that not the World Cup?
“To be honest, I haven’t given any thought to what it would mean to stop England, more than what it would do for Denmark.
“I’ve focused very little on the England national team, it’s what it would do for our country back home, the joy it would bring to a country of only five-and-a-half million, to be able to do something like that, or compete with the nations we’re competing with.”
The Foxes keeper delivered his cutting retort with a smile, but it failed to conceal the inner drive and belief he has that Denmark will bring England’s world crashing down around them tomorrow.
Denmark have received universal credit for their amazing character and unity in the wake of Christian Eriksen’s shocking cardiac arrest in the opening game defeat to Finland.
But Schmeichel insists the world are only seeing what the Danes have known for months – they have a bond and togetherness that can see off any challenge.
He added: “This group has always been special, we’ve said it for many years. It just came to light in a very dramatic way.
“But we have never been in doubt of the collective strength and the spirit we have in this team.
“We’ve always been aware of that, it’s not because it’s brought us closer together, but it’s shown the world what we have.
“What it has done, for the country of Denmark, is that we’ve experienced something as a country quite shocking and that’s definitely brought the country closer together.
“The support we’ve seen back home is like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my career, in my life, and unlikely to even see anything like it again.
“But it shows what football can do, it shows the reason why we play team sports, because when one of your team-mates is in need, your mates are there for you, and I think that’s why we’ve been shown so much love from everywhere, but particularly at home.”
The image of Eriksen is looming over everything Denmark have done so far in the tournament – and boss Kasper Hjulmand embraces the emotion going into tomorrow’s Wembley clash.
And it is not lost on the boss that the stadium is somewhere Eriksen plied his trade at club level when Tottenham spent the best part of two seasons using it as their home.
Hjulmand said: “There’s communication between the players and Christian, and I have talked with him and I’ve told him so many times that I think about him.
“Even when we got in here, I thought that we would play to Wembley in his old stadium, so he is with us and we still play for and with him. There’s no doubt about that.”
England faced Denmark twice in the Nations League, with the Danes winning at Wembley and drawing back in Copenhagen.
Coupled with a number of other impressive results, Hjulmand is having none of the suggestions his side go into the match as underdogs.
He added: “We are in a phase with the Danish national team where we move a little bit away from always being underdogs.
“So we take with the quality we have, with the results we’ve been having, the way we play, we try to take the initiative in the matches whoever is on the other side of the pitch and we will try to be proactive.
“We will try to play with courage and we always do that and play forward and try to score the next goal.
“I don’t like underdog mentality, but we are for sure not the favourites, of course.
“But our mentality is not to play football like underdogs, just defending and hope.
“No, our mentality is try to take control, and be proactive as much as possible, knowing that the opponents are strong and phases of the game we just have to work very, very hard to defend.
“Our mentality is not like we are watching the opponents and think ‘oh, these guys are better than we are’.
“Our mindset is not like an underdog. Our mindset is try to create and attack and be proactive.”