Denmark had made their way to the European Championships of 2032 after just about edging their way through the qualifying group. And the entire nation was on edge awaiting our draw for the big tournament.
We were placed in the pot of second seeds and were drawn alongside top-seed Italy, along with Turkey and Wales. So I arranged friendlies with Ireland and Bosnia & Herzegovina to get us prepared.
We lost 2-1 to Ireland in the first friendly but put in a better performance to beat Bosnia 2-0 that gave me a little more confidence. And this is the squad that we are taking to Euro 2032:
Goalkeepers: Andreas Jungdal (Galatasaray), Nicolai Johannsen (Brighton), John Bagge (Cagliari)
Right-backs: Filip Milovic (OB), Thomas Poulsen (Cagliari)
Centre-backs: Jacob Frandsen (Valencia), Steffen Lind (Chelsea), Mike Larsen (Kobenhavn), Frederik Frandsen (Bristol City)
Left-backs: Kristian Hagalskjaer (Tottenham), Johnny Mortensen (Kobenhavn)
Centre midfielders: Nick Granskov (Hebei China Fortune), Klavs Storm (Bournemouth), Matt O’Riley (West Brom), Khalifa Fatty (Brondby), Jacob Lorentzen (Man United)
Right wingers: Andreas Skov Olsen (Bologna), Kenneth Kristensen (Kobenhavn)
Left wingers: Mark Knudsen Brinksby (Arsenal), Andreas Poulsen (Lille)
Strikers: Kasper Voss Eslund (Midtjylland), Jonas Wind (Hertha BSC), Martin Outzen (Brondby)
Euro 2032 Group
We began Euro 2032 with a tough game against Turkey, and it was looking like a really tough task as we went 1-0 down to a goal from Inter striker Buruk Aydin after 21 minutes. However, striker Jonas Wind struck a few minutes before half-time to get us level at the break.
We enjoyed the best of the second half and eventually got our reward as Wind volleyed home a great effort in the 88th minute – which was his 40th goal for Denmark. I went defensive and we held on for a good opening win.
That man Wind was at it again with a 21st minute opener in game two against Wales. The Welsh had a goal disallowed before Kasper Voss Eklund latched onto the end of a long throw to poke home in first half injury-time. We dominated the second half and made it count as Jacob Frandsen nodded home from a free-kick. This great 3-0 win sent us through to the knockout stages!
With qualification secured I decided to change all 11 players for the toughest and last group game against Italy to rest players. We were never going to beat them anyway, so it was worth it. And we actually did quite well despite losing 2-0, even creating a couple of chances that we should have put away. But onto the knockout stages we go!
Euro 2032 knockout stages
I immediately regretted us throwing the Italy game, as they were drawn with Iceland while we got Belgium. I went to a more defensive formation and brought Matt O’Riley in to strengthen up the midfield in the aim of nullifying Belgium’s strong attack.
And we got off to the perfect start as Wind, once again, nodded home an indirect free-kick after just 2 minutes. Belgium created next to nothing before half-time and even after the break only forced Nicolai Johannsen into a few simple saves. And miraculously we held on for a famous 1-0 win!
There was a big shock as Czech Republic knocked out Holland – who’d qualified despite finishing 3rd in their group – on penalties, and we drew them in the quarter-finals.
I went back to a more attacking approach but things didn’t start well as Celtic midfielder Radek Hala put the Czechs after 12 minutes. But we came back into the game and got the goal we deserved as Jacob Frandsen headed home from a free-kick in first half injury-time.
The second half was a quiet affair with neither team creating much then right-winger Adam Hlozek got sent off after 70 minutes. I went on the attack but we continued to struggle to create chances. So I switched things up in extra-time, taking off exhausted left-winger Mark Knudsen Brinksby and throwing on more attacking options.
And the attacking option worked as striker Martin Outzen scored only his 2nd goal for Denmark in the 116th minute to fire us into the semi-finals!
The whole of Denmark was on a high but we were brought down to earth with a bump as we were drawn against Spain in the semi-finals. However, you may remember my USA team defeated Spain in the World Cup 2 years ago – so there’s always a chance! Italy, meanwhile, thumped England 6-0 in their quarter-final, so I guess it was lucky we didn’t have to play them again.
But our run ended against Spain, whose ridiculously talented team walked all over us. Ansu Fati scored early on, some midfielder scored a screamer then we made the fatal error of threatening to get back into it through Andreas Skov Olsen. So Spain went down the other end to immediately score a third. That was us out, but we’d done amazingly well to reach the semi-finals.
Spain wound up losing the final 1-0 to Italy, which I guess gives us some solace in the fact that we lost to both finalists!
Jonas Wind finished as the joint-4th highest scorer at the tournament with 5 goals. Inter superstar Cristiano Bertoletti, who may be on the move to Man United, top-scored with 8.
However, the day after the tournament finished, Wind decided to retire from international duty. He scored an impressive 42 goals in his 90 caps for Denmark.
And I think it’s time for me to follow suit and step away from Denmark and international football for now. However, as soon as I resigned from the Danish role and pressed continue a couple of times… England came calling and my international career was back on track. It was impossible to say no, so on we go to England.
This Journeyman save continues with our adventures in Serie A with Cagliari and England!