Book Review: Danish Dynamite

Growing up in the 1980s I thought Denmark had always been a force in world football. Not so. One golden generation came and went, but it left its mark and got its silverware before Denmark quietly returned to being a tricky away game in tournament qualification. That generation was Danish Dynamite.

 

I remember my first visit to Old Trafford, which Google informs me was 12 December 1987. It was a 3-1 home win versus Oxford United, who were then something of a presence in the top flight and had won the League Cup (then the Milk Cup) the year before. On the score sheet that day was Jesper Olsen, instantly recognisable by his shock of blonde hair darting down the left wing.

 

Denmark was in the midst of a golden generation in the 1980s. With a population of just five million it was exporting world-class players to all of Europe’s top clubs: Jesper Olsen and John Sivebeck at Manchester United, Jan Mølby at Liverpool, Søren Lerby at Bayern Munich, Morten Olsen at Anderlecht, Michael Laudrup at Juventus, Allan Simonsen at FC Barcelona, Preben Elkjaer a surprise Scudetto winner at Hellas Verona.

 

Mexico ’86 was the first World Cup I remember – and still, in my view, the best – and Denmark, at their peak, demolished Uruguay 6-1, with Laudrup walking through the South Americans’ defence to score. [Continues]

Now, the story of that incredible team – the embers of which went on to win Euro ‘92 in Sweden, a tournament they were never meant to be competing in at all – has been captured in Danish Dynamite, by Rob Smyth, Lars Eriksen and Mike Gibbons.

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Danish Dynamite takes us on a journey from the amateurism of the Danish game; where international football was all about having a good laugh and a drink, then back to the day job, through to its maturation under coach Sepp Piontek.

 

Piontek, with his German efficiency combined with a good deal of great timing, took a once wayward team to the semi-finals of Euro ’84 in France, via a first and historic win at Wembley. Then, on to Denmark’s first World Cup in Mexico, a disastrous Euro ’88 and failure to qualify for Italia ’90. Then 1992 happened… [Continues]

Denmark Euro 92

Denmark’s triumphant Euro ’92 team
Credit: OldSchoolPanini.com

Under Richard Møller-Nielsen a far less gifted – or prepared – Danish team than that of 1986 was called in to replace the disintegrating Yugoslavia. While the Balkans collapsed into Civil War, Denmark’s fans – the lively Roligans – headed across the water to Sweden to follow their team to an unlikely victory. When John Jensen scores for you, you know it’s going to be your day.

 

Danish Dynamite is a wonderfully light-hearted read, reflective – most probably – of the nature in which Denmark has always played its football: with a sense of joy.

 

 

 

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