Where are they now? Denmark’s Euro 92 final starting 11 -Kim Vilfort

In this series of posts we’ll take a look at Denmark’s starting 11 who played in the famous 2-0 victory over Germany on that historic day in June 1992. The careers of some of those players after that night in Gothenburg went from strength to strength, while others merely lived of that shock result over the reigning world champions, either way their name live on in footballing folklore.

As heartfelt stories go, few in football would be able to match that of Kim Vilfort. Given cult status forever after Euro 1992, Vilfort’s  famous  goal in Denmark’s shock victory was merely a side story at the time in what turned out to be a summer of national joy and personal anguish for the Brøndby midfielder.

At 29, Kim Vilfort was at the peak of his powers in 1992, He had just off the back of winning his 4th Danish Superliga title with the dominant capital club Brøndby and had been voted the Danish Player of the Year. With 42 caps and 6 goals to his name Vilfort made his international debut in 1983 and became ever present in the midfield for his country in the late 80’s, despite not being selected for the Mexico World Cup in 1986, Vilfort did get tournament experience when he featured twice at  a disappointing Euro 88. His whole club career was spent in Denmark bar for one unsuccessful season away in France for Lille. With a hefty 55 game season behind him Vilfort had only just finished his domestic season on the eve of Euro 92, but as we know the holiday didn’t last long and alongside Brøndby teammates John Jensen and Kim Christofte he was off to Sweden.

Before the tournament began Vilfort’s primary concern was the well-being of his 6 year old daughter Line who had suffered Leukaemia, The short distance between Scandinavian countries was a blessing for Kim Vilfort, after each of Denmark’s first 2 group stage matches he returned home to be with his family and by his daughters hospital bedside. Due to a decline in her condition Vilfort stayed in his homeland and missed the final group match, Denmark won that game 2-1 against France and progressed to the Semi final.  A return to the team and to the tournament against reigning Euro champions Netherlands was at the request of his family, in that epic match that ended 2-2, Vilfort went on to take a penalty in the shootout and with a calm nerve the midfielder slotted home the 4th penalty, victory soon followed and his nation had unexpectedly reached the final, the Brøndby man yet again made the journey back to Denmark and the hospital but would be back again in Sweden for the final.

Vilfort’s moment in footballing folklore came in the 78th minute that evening in Gothenburg. With the score 1-0 after teammate John Jensen’s super strike but with the World Champions looking like they would finally break the Danes, Vilfort rushed on to a header, threaded past two defenders, got the ball onto his left foot and hit it low and hard past goalkeeper Bodo Illgner, the ball went in the bottom left net and his giant smile came out as his teammates descended on him, footballing icon Pele was spotted by cameras standing to applaud the number 18 in the crowd, an honour in itself. Vilfort’s goal turned out to be the winner as 12 minutes later history and fate was confirmed. Kim Vilfort returned home a hero but sadly later that in the summer his daughter passed away, what was an emotional period for him, his family and his country became a poignant symbol of courage and commitment.

vilfort

After Euro 1992 Vilfort went on to win 77 caps and scored 14 goals with an appearance at Euro 1996 being his last tournament. Winning 3 more consecutive league titles and a domestic double to end with, Vilfort retired from playing in 1998 at the age of 35, his love affair with the men in yellow continued as he went on to be involved in many aspects of the youth team, which was no surprise given that he trained to be a teacher in his early footballing days. In 2016 Vilfort still remains involved in youth roles which add up to an impressive 30 year association with the club.

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