Who is … Richard Møller Nielsen?

(photo: Merlijn Hoek)
June 16th, 2012 7:51 am| by admin
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A football coach who led Denmark to Euro 1992 glory.

What was his biggest achievement?

 

Duh, that would be Denmark’s surprise victory at the 1992 European Championships. He was subsequently knighted in 1995. But, while Danes harp on about that win 20 years ago, you rarely hear about the man behind the team’s success. 

 

What happened? Was there a falling out?

 

More accurately a falling-out with his star player, Michael Laudrup, who quit the national team in November 1990, blaming Nielsen’s defensive strategy. Eventually, he returned, but too late to help Denmark qualify for the 1994 World Cup. 

 

Did the public side with Laudrup or Nielsen?

 

Hard to say. The Danish media had called for Nielsen’s head back in 1990 so were treading carefully. But they found it hard to ignore how their wonderboy Laudrup (no major championships) couldn’t produce the same kind of form under Nielsen (one major championship) as he had playing for the Dynamite under Sepp Piontek (no major championships) in the 1980s. 

 

When did he call it quits?

 

After the team failed to defend their title at Euro 1996, bowing out in the group stage.

 

Why haven’t we heard anything about him recently? 

 

Who knows? You’d expect him to be the go-to-man for everything about Euro 2012. The international media have shown a bit more interest. Nielsen was recently interviewed by Kick TV. He spoke in Danish, perhaps still haunted by various gaffes in 1992 that included: “Screw down a little bit the expectations” and “We need to play with long balls.”

 

So what does Nielsen think of Denmark’s Euro 2012 chances?

 

He thinks the Group of Death is no more challenging than the group Denmark faced in 1992. Before Denmark played the Netherlands last Saturday, Nielsen told Ritzau: “If we can beat the Netherlands, then we can beat them all.” After taking home a 1-0 victory, let’s see if Nielsen’s prediction comes true, or if he’s got a screw loose. 

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