One of Europe's most loved cities, Copenhagen will be a wonderful all-round destination for visitors next summer, with memories of Denmark's greatest football achievement certain to resurface.
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John Jensen. Kim Vilfort. Peter Schmeichel. The names roll off the tongue. The names intrinsically linked with the high-water mark of Danish football history. Denmark famously did not even originally qualify for EURO ‘92, but they won it. And now the tournament so ingrained in local football folklore is coming to Copenhagen.
For the Danish Football Association (DBU) president, Jesper Møller Christensen, it is a source of immense pride that the country’s capital city will play an integral part in EURO 2020. “Danish football has been given a fantastic opportunity to be part of something bigger,” he says, seeing both short and long-term benefits to Copenhagen’s involvement. “We saw a great opportunity in the role as a EURO host, which can help the development of Danish football in the long run – both at the elite and club level – and give all Danes and foreign fans a footballing experience for life that expands way beyond the boundaries of the Copenhagen municipality and out to all of Denmark.”
Heart of the action
The DBU president is excited by the prospect of Copenhagen being one of 12 cities that are hosting games at EURO 2020, and the unique nature of next year’s final tournament. “It is a fantastic opportunity to let a lot of countries and cities host EURO games – including Copenhagen. UEFA has shown openness and innovation by spreading the hosting duties to more nations, and we are happy and proud to be one of the cities that will be hosting the football festivity and the celebration of the 60th anniversary.”
The Danish capital is certainly well set up to hold a celebration. A football village at Ofelia Plads and the fan zone will complement the existing and various attractions of a city that is already a world-leading all-round tourist destination. “Copenhagen has been voted as the best city to live in and for tourists to visit many times, and it is not without reason that Danes have been known as some of the happiest people in the world for years,” Jesper Møller Christensen adds. “This football festival in combined with Ofelia village, which can accommodate up to 12,000 daily visitors, can present Copenhagen as a sustainable capital with boats, bikes, harbour buses and a harbour so clean that you can swim in it.”
From wandering down the bustling Strøget, Europe’s longest pedestrian street, to dropping in on Tivoli Gardens, visitors will not be short of things to do. “Copenhagen is a city that includes and embraces,” says Jesper Møller Christensen, who was elected DBU president in 2014. “It is a month-long football festival for everybody. Copenhagen is an accessible place to visit because the biking culture is such an integrated part of the city’s infrastructure. The stadium, the fan zone and all the exciting parts of Copenhagen are within biking distance of each other – and you should not miss out on the culinary scene in Copenhagen. That really has so much to offer.”
The summer of ‘92
Its geographical location means Copenhagen is very easy to access, and even more so from Sweden since 1999 when it was joined to Malmö by the Øresund Bridge. It was in that city across the strait where, seven years before, Denmark recorded a famous victory against France which kick-started a final tournament campaign that ultimately led to glory. Now, nearly three decades on, two of those heroes are back to play a leading role in the 2020 edition.
Brian Laudrup and Peter Schmeichel will be ambassadors for next year’s tournament, and the DBU president is delighted to have them on board. “Denmark and Danes are proud of the country’s football history, and EURO ’92 is the memory that stands out,” he says. “That such great personalities from back then have said ‘yes’ to representing Denmark makes us proud, of course. It is an excellent example that everybody, from the most celebrated names in Danish football to the kids just discovering the game, will be taking part in what is hopefully going to be the biggest sports event on Danish soil ever.”
It is, Jesper Møller Christensen says, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to secure a bright future for the sport in the country. “Danish football has been given a golden opportunity to build on the important relationships we have established during the work for the EURO finals. We have to take advantage of that to develop further and continue the great work that is being done every day in the clubs all over Denmark – both on and off the pitch.”
That legacy will follow a successful delivery next summer, which is something Jesper Møller Christensen is sure Copenhagen can do in its own special way. “Football is a community, and we wish to show Denmark and Copenhagen as the best possible hosts for football fans, and culturally interested and foreign tourists. It should all feel like part of a wonderful football festival.”
Green, clean and effortlessly stylish, Copenhagen is a forward-thinking city often cited as one of the happiest places to live on earth. The bicycle-friendly Danish capital is closely connected to Sweden by the Øresund Bridge and is a lively centre of Scandinavian culture, renowned for its leading designers and numerous Michelin-starred restaurants. The harbour, Botanical Garden and world-famous Little Mermaid statue also vie for attention, in a city dominated by local giants FC København on the football front. FCK’s home ground welcomes UEFA EURO 2020 after hosting the 1994 European Cup Winners’ Cup final and the UEFA Cup showpiece six years later, with Arsenal FC beating Parma AC in the first game before losing to Galatasaray AŞ on penalties in 2000.
13 June: Group B match
18 June: Group B match
22 June: Group B match
29 June: Round of 16
This article originally appeared in UEFA Direct 187