Thursday 18 May 2017, 18:30

Danish Dynamite on top of the world

  • Denmark reached the 1995 FIFA Confederations Cup - then called the King Fahd Cup - after winning EURO 1992

  • The Danish Dynamite overcame Argentina's star-studded side in the final to win the second edition of the tournament

  • Brian Laudrup shares his memories of that competition with

In the summer of 1992, Denmark’s players sprawled across sun-soaked beaches after long, hard seasons. It was then, in that state of profound relaxation and calm, when the call came – a call to patriotism and to play. A place in the EURO opened up after Yugoslavia plunged into war and were disqualified, and a fuse was lit in those holidaying Danes.

With nothing to lose, and hardly any time to prepare, they headed to Sweden for the finals. The rest is folklore, the legend of Danish Dynamite was written. The one time Denmark were crowned champions of Europe. And when they took the field three years later at the FIFA Confederations Cup, they were a secret no longer and it was no surprise when they were crowned champions.

Back then, the Confederations Cup was still known as the King Fahd Cup. Played in Saudi Arabia, the competition boasted just six teams. But it was no slouch of a competing field, with Mexico, Argentina and Nigeria – then in their prime, with some of their best players of all-time, aiming for the international crown.

“We surprised everybody at EURO 1992,” Brian Laudrup, currently running a football academy for underserved young people and casting his opinions and aspersions as TV pundit, told “Most of all we surprised ourselves. A lot of people said we were lucky after the tournament, but the EURO was very small back then – you had to play well in every game and we did. And then we played in the King Fahd Cup.”

The Danes, reigning champions of Europe, entered the King Fahd Cup on the Arabian Peninsula with big expectations. And they lived up to them. The side was led by the Laudrup brothers, Michael and Brian, and had Lars Hogh in goal, in place of Manchester United’s outstanding Peter Schmeichel. Denmark had no trouble with the hosts in the first game, winning out 2-0 and hardly breaking a sweat.

“It was new to us, playing teams from other parts of the world – great teams not from Europe,” said Laudrup, looking back with perspective. “Our coach told us that it was going to be a harder tournament to win than the EURO, which sounds strange, but he meant it because we were playing teams with styles that weren’t familiar – like Mexico and Argentina. We put a lot of energy into that competition. We really wanted to show it wasn’t just about luck in 1992.”

Up next was a Mexico team loaded with talent and four years away from winning the 1999 Confederations Cup on home soil. Jorge Campos, Carlos Hermosillo and co pushed the Danes to a shoot-out after extra-time ended tangled at 1-1. But stand-in goalkeeper Morgens Krogh was the hero on the day, saving two from the spot after coming on earlier in the game as a substitute.

In the final, Denmark outclassed an Argentina side that was brimming with talent known the world over. Even with Roberto Ayala, Javier Zanetti and Ariel Ortega in the team, Daniel Passarella’s South Americans were no trouble for the European champions. Michael Laudrup scored from the spot and Peter Rasmussen scored one of his two goals at the tournament to see the northern Europeans finish champions – in a sense – of the world.

“People were really celebrating back home, it was like winning a mini-World Cup and was a very proud moment for us, even though we understood that it was not the World Cup!” Laudrup said with enthusiasm. “We created a little more history for Denmark.”