Denmark are riding into Saturday’s Euro 2020 quarter-final with the Czech Republic on a wave of euphoria, with upbeat fans convinced of their passage into the last four and a potential repeat of the fairytale win of 1992.
On the streets of Copenhagen positivity reigns supreme among supporters, who after a traumatic start to their country’s campaign at the European Championship are more upbeat than ever before.
Traumatised by watching playmaker Christian Eriksen almost die on the pitch following sudden cardiac arrest in their opening group match, the Danes have recovered to march into the last eight in impressive fashion.
A 4-1 thumping of Russia in their last Group B match saw them through to the knockout stage despite losing their first two games in the aftermath of Eriksen’s collapse, and Kasper Hjulmand’s side showed they were serious with a comfortable 4-0 win against Wales in the last 16.
Ricky Thomsen, a 34-year-old supporter, told AFP that Denmark are “riding on a wave that can’t be stopped right now”, backed by vociferous support at all four of their matches, three of them in the Danish capital.
“The support we see now is overwhelming… everyone is cheering, that’s fantastic,” said Christian Kokholm Rothmann, president of the Denmark supporters’ association.
He said the manner of the team’s response to Eriksen’s collapse had galvanised supporters.
“The way the team and especially (captain) Simon Kjaer reacted made many Danes realise how the team cares about each other, how human they actually are.”
– ‘State of happiness’ –
Denmark’s colours of red and white dominate in the country’s capital, with flags on display in shop windows and people proudly wearing the replica jersey — which is out of stock due to a rush of sales — whether or not a match is on.
The popularity of a talented team many had tipped as dark horses before the tournament has shot through the roof as people connected with the players following the Eriksen incident.
“The whole country is in a state of happiness and joy over the team at the moment,” says Poul Ferdinand, who follows the national team for tabloid daily Ekstra Bladet.
“The last two matches have been really excellent performances.”
Such performances have fans dreaming of Denmark recreating their shock win of 1992, when they triumphed in Sweden after only being invited to the tournament following the break-up of Yugoslavia.
David Andersen, owner of a coffee shop in central Copenhagen, believes “there is a fair chance that we can do something historical” and win Denmark’s second major honour.
“They are the best team we’ve had in my time,” said the 33-year-old, who has developed a coffee in honour of the national team called ‘Damsinho’, the nickname of rising Danish star Mikkel Damsgaard.
– Roligans ready for Wembley –
According to the label, the coffee beans are collected in “seventh heaven”, or the current mental state of Denmark fans, and Andersen is confident that the team will be walking out at Wembley for a semi-final clash with England, who face Ukraine in Rome on Saturday.
“We have the chance for sure, and I look forward to the game at Wembley. I predict a very close game against England,” he says.
But before Andersen’s prediction can become reality the Danes have to get past the Czechs in Baku where very few supporters will be travelling, mostly due to the Covid-19 quarantine rules that would stop anyone who has not been fully vaccinated from then travelling to London for the semi-final.
However should they make it to London, the Danish supporters nicknamed ‘Roligans’ are ready to bring the same rowdy support that has roared on Denmark at home in the tournament and even when they played in Amsterdam.
“I’ve heard that Danish fans are supposed to be quiet ones but it’s a very curious rumour,” says Rothmann. “The organised support is actually not quiet, some of the fans are really, really loud.”