And, It’s Also Time To Remember What We Did To The Danes

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You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Croat who was alive back then who doesn’t remember THAT game.

It was 1996. The country was still very, very young, the war was mostly over (the country wasn’t yet entirely unified and under our government, but the last step in that process would be finished peacefully), and the Croatian national football team had just qualified for the European championships that year, to be hosted by England in June. It was the first international competition for the Croatian team, after having qualified as the top of their group, in front of Italy, Lithuania, Ukraine, Slovenia and Estonia.

The team was powerful. Robert Jarni played for Betis then, coming from Juventus and on his way to Real Madrid, Igor Štimac was in Derby County, Slaven Bilić at West Ham, Robert Prosinečki was in Barcelona, Davor Šuker in Sevilla (having already signed for Real Madrid), Zvonimir Boban was in Milan, Alen Bokšić in Lazio. The optimism was sky-high, they were seen off to the championships as the favourites by the Croatian public. 

The first game they played was against Turkey, and we beat them with a late goal by Goran Vlaović in Nottingham.

And then came the second group stage game, against the you-know-who.

The Danes.

The defending European champions at that point. (BTW, do you know the story of how the Danes qualified for that championship, which was played in 1992 and where they became the surprise-champions? Funny you should ask: they haven’t really, Yugoslavia has, but having fallen apart, with the bloody war raging here, UEFA decided that Yugoslavia couldn’t put a joint team together, that there was no way to let just one of the republics fill that seat, so they disqualified Yugoslavia and put the third team from their qualifying group into that Euro. That team was Denmark. They found out they were going to the tournament 10 days before – they ended up winning.

The Laudrup brothers. And the keeper, one of the most legendary goalkeepers of our time, Peter Schmeichel, tall, blonde and playing for Manchester United for ages, was in the Danish team, one can almost say playing on home turf, having been in the Premiership since 1991. 

And then the game started, and this happened:



Let’s see that last goal once more, shall we: 



(This article is written as a reply to “It’s Time to Remember what the Danes did to us“)


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