Sunday, February 06, 2011

Great Danes - Sizzling Danish Footballers.

As England prepare for a meaningless international friendly against Denmark in the Parken Stadium, Copenhagen on Wednesday night, I thought I would take a brief look at the history of Danish football and some of the most famous players to come out of a country boasting a population of just five-and-a-half million, and a country more renowned for the Vikings, Carsberg lager, Lurpack butter, bacon and for inventing Lego!

It is somewhat of an easier task to talk about Danish Football than picking to bits all that is wrong with the England national team, both on and off the field.

Trying to explore, unravel and in turn make sense of the current and well documented issues stifling the English national team, and it's failure to deliver on the big stage, or the FA's failure to appoint an English born manager as they continue to allow, due to financial constraints the 'not so fab' Capello to wave his imaginary wand and quite literally 'balls up' a role I think most die hard England fans feel they could do infinitely better themselves, whilst sitting on a remote Caribeean beach sipping Pina Colada's - would require me to write a piece of literature akin to a gargantuan sized novel!

I have digressed for far too long, so let's take look at the subject in question - the history of Danish football and some of their most iconic players.

The history of football in Denmark dates back to the early 20th century. The Denmark national football team (Danish: Danmark fodboldlandshold) is controlled by the Danish Football Association (DBU), the governing body for football in Denmark and affiliated to UEFA (The Union of European Football Associations).
The national team played its first international match on the 19th October 1908 against France, recording a remarkable 9-0 victory.
Denmark's home ground is Parken Stadium in Østerbro (Copenhagen), and their head coach is Morten Olsen.

Since 1983, the team has continuously been visible as a solidly competitive side.
The national team's first championship victory was at the 1992 European Championships, where its qualification itself was very dramatic. The team trailed behind Yugoslavia in the qualification group and thus failed to qualify for the 1992 event.
However due to international sanctions resulting from the Yugoslav wars, Yugoslavia was barred from the 1992 tournament by UEFA, only 10 days ahead of the event. As a result Denmark gained entry to the tournament hosted by Sweeden instead, having finished runners-up to Yugoslavia in their group.

Under the guidance of coach Richard Moller Nielsen the Denmark team progressed ahead of England and France from the group stage.
Denmark then went on to beat defending European Champions the Netherlands on penalties in the semi-final, before defeating the reigning 1990 World Cup Champions Germany, 2–0 in the final.
In the 1984 European Championship tournament Denmark reached the semi-finals, and in the 2004 event they reached the quarter-finals.

They also managed to win the 1995 Confederations Cup, defeating Argentina in the final.

Their best FIFA World Cup result was achieved in France in 1998, where they narrowly lost to Brazil in the quarter-finals. Denmark have also competed at the Summer Olympic Games, with the national football team winning three silver medals – in 1908, 1912, and 1960.

Denmark managed to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup by winning their group, which included two victories against Sweden and one victory plus a draw against Portugal.
At the 2010 World Cup Finals Denmark was grouped with Japan, Cameroon and the Netherlands. Denmark lost the first match 2-0 to Netherlands, but then secured a vital 2-1 victory against Cameroon, which enabled further advancement if they could overcome Japan, in their third and final group match. The game against Japan however ended in a 3-1 defeat, and thereby Denmark failed to qualify for the second round of matches.

Famous Danish footballers, both past and present:

Morten Olsen - 1970-89
Henning Jensen - 1972-80
Allan Simonsen - 1972-86
Preben Elkjær - 1977-88
Michael Laudrup (right) - 1982-98
Brian Laudrup - 1987-98
Peter Schmeichel - 1987-01
Thomas Sorensen 1993 - present
Jon Dahl Tomasson 1997- present
Christian Poulsen 1997 - present
Peter Lovenkrands 1998 - present
Daniel Agger 2004 - present
Nicklas Bendtner 2005 - present

For the record here are some more famous Danes, other than football players:

Hans Christian Andersen - Author
Helena Christensen - Model
Canute The Great - Former King
Margrethe I - Former Queen
Margrethe II - Reigning Queen
Ole Rømer - Scientist
Aqua - Pop Group
Ole Kirk Christiansen - Founder of Lego
Jacob Christian Jacobsen - Founder of the Carlsberg Brewery
Brigitte Nielsen - Actress
Lars Ulrich - Metallica drummer

Results between the two countries since 1966:

17/08/2005 Denmark 4 - 1 England - International Match.
16/11/2003 England 2 - 3 Denmark - International Match.
15/06/2002 Denmark 0 - 3 England - World Cup, 2002, Japan & South Korea.
09/03/1994 England 1 - 0 Denmark - International Match.
11/06/1992 Denmark 0 - 0 England - European Championship, 1992 Sweden.
15/05/1990 England 1 - 0 Denmark - International Match.
07/06/1989 Denmark 1 - 1 England - International Match.
14/09/1988 England 1 - 0 Denmark - International Match.
21/09/1983 England 0 - 1 Denmark - European Championship, 1984 France.
22/09/1982 Denmark 2 - 2 England - European Championship, 1984 France.
12/09/1979 England 1 - 0 Denmark - European Championship, 1980 Italy.
20/09/1978 Denmark 3 - 4 England - European Championship, 1980 Italy.
03/07/1966 Denmark 0 - 2 England - International Match.

So this Wednesday night Denmark host England (kick-off 19.15 GMT), in a pointless genial meeting, played for no particular reason other than perhaps for the DBU to earn themselves a few bob, or should I say Krona.

Therefore I predict a typically nonchalant friendly match, played with little hunger by the either set of players, refereed by an over zealous set of match officials, looking to enhance their already fledgling careers, in a half-empty stadium and culminating in a 1-1 draw, which is a 5/1 bet with Betfred.

Wednesday's England squad is:

Goalkeepers: Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Man City), David Stockdale (Fulham)

Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Bolton), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Michael Dawson (Tottenham), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Joleon Lescott (Man City), John Terry (Chelsea), Kyle Walker (Aston Villa)

Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Man City), Stewart Downing (Aston Villa), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Man City), Scott Parker (West Ham), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Aston Villa)

Strikers: Gabriel Agbonlahor Darren Bent (Aston Villa), Carlton Cole (West Ham), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd).

Glæde sig ved den fodbold lige!

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