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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK
Denmark's greatest moment
By Paul Fletcher

John Jensen scored Denmark's opening goal of their 2-0 win over Germany in the final
Jensen celebrates scoring in the final
Denmark's victory in the 1992 European Championship stands alone as the most remarkable in the history of the tournament.

After failing to reach the finals in Sweden many of the Danish players were on the beach enjoying their summer holidays.

Manager Richard Moller Nielsen was preparing to decorate his kitchen.

Then came the news that the eruption of a civil war in Yugoslavia had led to their withdrawal.

After finishing second in qualifying to Yugoslavia, Nielsen's team were drafted into the tournament at the 11th hour - setting in motion a chain of events that culminated in their 2-0 victory over Germany in the final.

John Jensen played in the heart of midfield for Denmark and scored their opening goal against the Germans.

Not surprisingly for Jensen the tournament remains the greatest achievement of a career that included four years at Arsenal and numerous honours in Danish football before moving into management.

There was no pressure on us at all, we could relax and just go out and play
John Jensen
"I got many trophies and medals in my career but winning the European Championship has to be the biggest," Jensen told BBC Sport.

"When you win and no one expects it, then it is really special. Even more so when you are playing for a country that has never won a major tournament."

The Danes were placed in a group with England, France and Sweden and knew that to reach the semi-finals they would have to finish in the top two.

But as Jensen and his team-mates prepared to face Graham Taylor's England in their opening game, winning was the last thing on their minds.

"The mood was that we would go and play the three games and try our best but we did not have a chance of winning the whole tournament - that was the feeling of the players," said Jensen.

The previous best finish by a Danish team had come at the 1984 European Championship in Paris, when the team lost to Spain on penalties in the semi-finals.

Jensen added: "The team was still in the shadow of the 1984 international team with Michael Laudrup, Morten Olsen, Jesper Olsen, Jan Molby and many great players - but now we had the chance to do what that team had achieved."

Denmark gathered momentum through the tournament after holding England to a goalless draw in their opening match.

A crucial win over France was followed by defeat to hosts Sweden, but confidence remained high and the Danes defeated Holland on penalties in the semi-final.

And after their last-gasp entry into the tournament the Danes were able to play with a freedom that might have eluded them had they qualified from their group.

John Jensen lifts the trophy after winning the 1992 European Championships
Denmark's win sparked mass celebrations
Jensen said: "I thought it helped our team in 1992. There was no pressure on us at all, we could relax and just go out and play, especially after we got a draw against England in the first game.

"But the winning mentality in the team was so great.

"It was extremely hard to play against us because we were such a tough unit. About eight of the team had played together at Brondby.

"There were many players who knew each other on and off the pitch so we were all like friends together."

Even so the win in the final came against the odds.

"The first 20 minutes of football were the hardest most of us had ever faced. The Germans were all over the pitch and we couldn't get into our play.

"We were working tirelessly and suddenly I had the chance to have a shot at goal. I remember the manager had said to me before the game that if I have a chance to take a shot, then I should go for it."

The win was followed by a huge party in Copenhagen, with more than one million Danes turning out to greet the returning team.

But does Jensen believe there could be a repeat this summer?

"They are tough to beat and have played a lot of games together - like the 1992 squad. They have a lot of experience in the team and that could make a big difference," he added.

But Jensen, who now manages Brondby with Michael Laudrup, would settle for a win over rivals Sweden.

"I have three Swedish players in my team and I don't want to have to face them at pre-season training if they help beat Denmark."

Links to more Denmark stories



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