UEFA Euro 2020: Denmark show heart, spirit in a tournament filled with hurdles

Even with the bitter style of an extra-time defeat lurking past the ultimate whistle on the Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, 1000’s of Denmark followers have been seen crying and hugging one another with a proud smile on their faces… and justifiedly so. With nobody anticipating their UEFA Euro 2020 marketing campaign to increase to the knockout phases after their opening 45 minutes within the match, Kasper Hjulmand‘s group scripted an unforgettable footballing journey within the house of little greater than three weeks.

Powered by a resolve to elevate the trophy for Christian Eriksen — who collapsed on the field during the team’s opener against Finland on June 12 and needed to be revived with a defibrillator throughout a tense halt in Copenhagen — Denmark reached the semi-finals of the European Championships after a protracted, arduous wait of 29 years.

Though the Purple and Whites lastly ran out of steam within the ongoing match throughout their 2-1 defeat to England, their ascension from the depths of tragedy touched the hearts of thousands and thousands. After failing to qualify within the earlier version 5 years again, Denmark entered the match as “darkish horses”, boasting an amicable and impressive head coach and a multi-faceted squad of lionhearts.

However issues didn’t fall into place for them from the get-go itself.

After being rocked by the sight of Eriksen struggling a cardiac arrest early on, the Danes fell to 2 consecutive defeats of their Group B encounters — a 1-Zero loss to Finland adopted by a 2-1 defeat to eventual group-toppers Belgium on June 17.

With the exit door looming massive, Denmark didn’t let their heads drop earlier than the ultimate matchday. Placing the shock of that life-and-death scenario behind them, Hjulmand’s side refused to throw in the towel against Russia and have become the first-ever group to qualify for the knockouts after shedding their first two matches on the European Championship. The house supporters in Copenhagen discovered new heroes to sing and chant about in left midfielder Mikkel Damsgaard and wingback Joakim Maehle on the night time of June 22 as Denmark romped on to a spectacular 4-1 win.

A view of a fan-made banner devoted to Christian Eriksen through the UEFA Euro 2020. (Reuters)

After turning despair into exhilaration, Denmark continued with their momentum into the knockout phases as they walloped Wales 4-Zero within the last-16 because the headlines lastly turned to their soccer, reasonably than Eriksen’s destiny. OGC Good striker Kasper Dolberg got here into the highlight with two objectives on both facet of the break throughout his go to to his former home-ground in Amsterdam. The 23-year-old once more got here clutch with a cool end within the 2-1 quarter-final victory over Czech Republic, turning into the nation’s joint top-scorer within the historical past of the competitors.

The emotionally charged red-and-white practice even bought off to a promising begin throughout their final 4 contest towards England by means of one other applause-worthy Damsgaard purpose, however the cracks have been starting to point out. After an unfortunate personal purpose by Simon Kjaer restored parity earlier than half-time, Denmark suffered a drop within the adrenaline ranges through the latter phases with the entrance three wanting toothless. After a controversial extra-time penalty by Harry Kane, it was throughout.

“We’re disillusioned, we’re very disillusioned,” Hjulmand mentioned after his group’s exit from the UEFA Euro 2020. “However then there’s one other a part of me and I can’t describe with phrases how a lot I love the technical employees behind these gamers.”

“They’ve been by means of a lot. We have two people from the staff who saved one of our best player’s life. We’ve got been combating like loopy. We play good soccer and I’m grateful for Denmark, all the nation. We would have liked the assist, we wanted the empathy when that occurred with Christian,” the 49-year-old coach added.

When all of the mud of disappointment has settled down, Hjulmand has his thoughts fixated on one factor — the intense and promising way forward for De rød-hvide.

“Sadly we didn’t get to the ultimate, however one factor’s for positive, we’re going to assault once more and our future is filled with hope and perception,” he mentioned. “These guys are excellent and the entire nation will be proud and preserve giving them the love and respect they deserve. They’re an incredible squad that has finished an incredible job.”

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