Sunday, 31 October 2010


Kim Vilfort. A name the Danish public will never forget, whose heroics at the European Championships in 1992 played out alongside one of the deepest personal tragedies that anyone can ever experience.

Denmark were invited by UEFA to take part in the Euros in 1992 just ten days before the tournament was due to start, as UN sanctions against Yugoslavia prohibited the then war-ravaged nation from participating. The Danish players were called back from their holidays and a squad was rapidly assembled. A key member of that squad was Brondby midfielder Kim Vilfort, whose 7-year old daughter was tragically suffering from leukemia at the time.

Vilfort returned home after the first two group games - a 0-0 draw with England and a 1-0 defeat against the host nation Sweden - in order to be at his daughter's side in hospital in Denmark. She was in very poor health and Vilfort wanted to stay with her. Denmark beat France in their last group game to progress in the tournament however, and his family persuaded him to return to Sweden and continue to represent his country, who were now preparing for a unexpected semi-final against defending European Champions Holland.

The decision to return must have been an agonizingly difficult one to make, but it had a significant bearing on the destiny of the European Championship. The clash with the Dutch was an enthralling affair; Denmark twice took the lead but couldn't hold on to it, and the game ended 2-2 after extra-time. In the resulting penalty shootout the Danes scored all five of their spot-kicks - Vilfort confidently taking the fourth one - meaning that one miss by Marco Van Basten sent the Danes through to the Final. They were now building up to the biggest match in their history, which would be against the World Champions Germany. They were massive underdogs.

Following the semi-final Vilfort again returned to Denmark to be at his daughter's side. Again he was persuaded to return for the Final, and - in a fairy tale ending as good as any that Hans Christian Andersen ever wrote - Vilfort stole the moment of crowning glory. With 11 minutes left of the Final and Denmark leading 1-0, Vilfort latched on to a forward header 30 yards out, threaded his way between two defenders and unleashed a left-footed drive from the edge of the penalty area that found the back of the net via the post. Without that second goal, Germany may well have found enough in the tank to conjure up an equalizer. But this was a moment of fate for player and country; Vilfort and Denmark had achieved the impossible. Three weeks earlier Denmark had not even been on the guest list for the Euros; now, they were heading home as the Kings of European football.

Kim Vilfort's daughter had been terminally ill, and he knew that there would be no miracles off the pitch. Line Vilfort herself had pleaded with her father to return to the tournament and play for his country. He respected and trusted the tremendous courage of his daughter, and the rest is history.


  1. I didn't know about this story!! I was tear-eyed, while I was reading.

  2. Heartbreaking. Today the telly broadcast Vilfort's goal in the final and I found myself in tears.

  3. Yes heartbreaking. This was truly an amazing story. God bless the Vilfort family.

  4. Indeed a heartbreaking story. And even more so, because Kim's daughter didn't overcome her illness and past away shortly after Denmarks impressive win in 92. R.I.P Line Vilfort

  5. I'm very sorry to know how it all ended. I don't know why but I thought she recovered.

    I'm a father of two and I can understand such a heavy loss.

    Kim, you're a hero for me (I'm Spaniard!)

    I pray for her.