The story is so famous it barely needs retelling. Denmark were eliminated in EURO '92 qualifying before Yugoslavia's expulsion gave them a finals place. Once in Sweden they knocked out England and France in the group stage, the Netherlands on penalties in the last four and Germany 2-0 for the trophy. Peter Schmeichel, then a year into his spell at Manchester United FC, kept goal for Denmark in that competition and discusses the emotional journey of that summer.
Getting the call...
I was in Brondby – I was actually training that day. What happened was that our season in England had finished a fair bit earlier than all the other tournaments around Europe, and since we were not in the EURO but were very close to Sweden, we were one of the teams that a few nations wanted to play against as their very last game before going into the tournament.
So I was preparing for a game we had in Brondby [against the Commonwealth of Independent States], and it was in between two training sessions. We were having lunch and the first rumour came through that maybe Yugoslavia were expelled and we had to take their place, and when we came back from the second training session, that was it – it was confirmed and we were now officially one of the participants in the tournament.
Denmark's never-say-die spirit...
The spine of that squad came from Brøndby [IF] and also the Under-21s. We had players like Flemming Poulsen, who obviously never did play for Brøndby, but we grew up being pioneers in professional football in the country and Brøndby were the first team, in 1986, ever to go full time, so we had a different mentality to a lot of things you've seen before in Denmark.
I don't think we'd had many big results in the times before 1992. We'd had the odd one but there wasn't a mentality in sport that you could actually go out and say: "We want to win this, this is our target," because people would look at you.
An unexpected triumph...
I think, beyond anything, it really sank in when we were in Copenhagen in the town hall for the celebrations with the rest of Denmark. That was unbelievable, truly unbelievable. At this point you're thinking: "Christ, we actually did this, it's not a dream."
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