Jensen’s Big Boot, 1992
Sweden hosted Euro ’92 with the slogan “Small Is Beautiful.” The tournament also had a fairy tale ending. After Yugoslavia was expelled from the competition in the spring because of an escalating civil war, Denmark was a late addition. The squad wasn’t quite scooped off the beach, but not too far off.
The Danes weren’t a ragtag gang, though. They had a smattering of journeymen from the Bundesliga and goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, in his first year with Manchester United.
Denmark’s campaign sparked to life with a late 2-1 win over France that put it in the semifinals against the defending champion, the Netherlands. The Danes won, 5-4, on penalties.
Having dispensed with the European champion, Denmark faced the reigning world champion, a reunified Germany (now with added East Germans). Predictably, Germany dominated early, but unpredictably John Jensen gave the Danes the lead. Jensen, for whom self-belief and ambition trumped technique, usually had his shots clear not only the goal, but also the running track and several rows of seats. Not this time. He hit the roof of the German net with a decisive wallop.
Denmark defended capably, and Schmeichel rescued the team when it didn’t. After Kim Vilfort added an insurance goal, the Danish fans sang, “Deutschland, Deutschland, Alles ist vorbei” (“Germany, Germany, it’s all over”).
Small might have been beautiful, but Euro ’92 was the last eight-team tournament. Four years later in England, the field doubled. And Jensen? He headed to England too, and continued to shoot wildly from distance, finding the net only once in 138 league appearances for Arsenal.