Denmark football history - Part 1 - The early amateur days

Tue, Oct 09 2018

Denmark won a silver medal at the 1912 summer olympics in Stockholm's Olympic Stadium Credit: Macdara Ferris

Denmark return to Dublin this Saturday 13 October to face off against the Republic of Ireland in the UEFA Nations League (7.45pm kick off). The visitors were of course recent visitors at the Aviva Stadium, having bested the boys in green 5-1 in the second leg of November’s World Cup playoff, shattering the hopes of many an Irish supporter of making the World Cup in Russia earlier this year.

Diarmuid Kearney has been looking back through the Danish football records to bring you a series tracing the country’s football team’s history, starting with the early amateur days of the game in Denmark.

Denmark football history - the early amateur days

The Danes proved to be very successful in the early amateur international game. As an amatuer football nation they won gold at the 1906 Intercalatad Olympic games in Greece and two Olympic silver medals at the 1908 London and 1912 Stockholm games.

Due to their amatuer status, Denmark refused to allow any players travel abroad to join clubs to become professional footballers and instead would only fund the national side in friendly matches and a regional tournament known as the Nordic Championship.

The Danish Football Association (DBU) would allow the national side to return to Olympic competition in 1948 where again they would enjoy success winning a bronze medal in that year’s games in London.

They would reach the quarter final four years later but the DBU choose not to send the side to the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.

After abstaining from the 1956 Olympics, football would remain largely an amatuer past time in Denmark. Most of the talented Danish footballers decided to move abroad in order to seek a better living.

As the DBU had a strict policy that prohibited any professional footballer from playing with the national side, the Danes in subsequent years would struggle to assemble a competitive team.

When the 1960 Olympics came around, Denmark returned to winning ways and would go on to capture their third Olympic silver medal.

Four years later, Denmark would qualify for their first competitive football tournament - the 1964 European Nations Cup. Denmark cruised to a 9-2 win in the preliminary round against Malta before beating Albania 4-1 in the second round.

It would take three legs for Denmark to qualify for the tournament, drawing 3-3 with Luxembourg in the first leg followed by a 2-2 draw in the second, which setup a replay in a neutral venue to determine the overall winner.

An Ole Mansen goal in the 41st minute gave the Danes a 1-0 win on the night and a 6-5 scoreline on aggregate. Mansen managed to score all six Danish goals over the three legs, scoring eleven goals in qualification.

The four team tournament was made up of the Soviet Union, Hungary, Denmark and host nation Spain. Denmark would finish in fourth place after losing both matches in the tournament, the semi final 3-0 defeat to the Soviet Union and a 3-1 defeat to Hungary in the third place play-off.

Next  up - Part 2: Signing with Carlsberg and the Danish Dynamite