Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Brilliant movie portrays a time when footballers played football and athletes competed in track and field

I watched a wonderful and inspiring Danish movie on SBS World Movies tonight.

“Sommeren ‘92” (“Summer of ‘92”) is the story of one of the greatest achievements by a football team.

It is the story of Denmark’s unlikely European Championship success in 1992 in Sweden, when the Danes beat Germany 2-0 in the final.

Denmark had failed to qualify for the finals but were included when Yugoslavia, who had qualified, were banned because of the war in the Balkans.

The Danish players were on holiday and had to be quickly summoned back for national-team duty a mere 10 days before the tournament began.

Denmark’s coach, Richard Moeller Nielsen, is brilliantly portrayed by Ulrich Thomsen.

He was not first choice for the job and had little respect from his players, the Danish Football Association, the press and the Danish football public.

The stars of the national team, the Laudrup brothers, Michael and Brian, refused to play for Nielsen, although Brian eventually changed his mind and was in the winning team.

The scratch team, which was totally unprepared for the 8-team finals, made it through the group stage with a 0-0 draw against England, a 1-0 defeat to Sweden and a 2-1 win against France.

Denmark qualified for the final by beating The Netherlands 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out after the teams drew 2-2 after extra-time.

Against the odds, Denmark beat Germany 2-0 in the final and won their first-ever European Championship.

There is plenty of human drama in the film.  Kim Vilfort (played by Mikkel Folsgaard) had to leave the tournament to return to his ailing young daughter who was seriously ill in hospital.  She recovered sufficiently for him to return to the team and play in the final.

The drama is interspersed with real footage from the tournament and it is done seamlessly and realistically and is not at all corny, which is always a danger in such movies.

The footage of the actors playing football is realistic and is inserted in between the real footage of games and does not grate in the least.

The Danish team were completely relaxed as they were not expected to go far.

Nielsen sometimes took them to play mini-golf instead of training before a game, and the players sometimes dined at McDonald's.

It's reminiscent in a way of the legendary Brian Clough, whose Nottingham Forest team won two successive European Cups.  Clough would often loosen the reins on his players before big games in ways that no modern-day coach would even contemplate.

I was teaching at Cosgrove High in 1992 and well remember the shock throughout the football world caused by Denmark’s title success.

What it showed to me was something football seems to have lost today.

Those were the days when footballers played football, and athletes did track and field.

They were also the days when the major tournaments had a realistic number of teams and not the inflated numbers that are the norm nowadays.


1 comment:

Brian Young said...

This was a terrific movie. The family all thoroughly enjoyed it. (Should have brushed up on my Danish...😁)