When it comes to football, Danish football might not be the first name that comes to mind. Yet, this small Nordic nation has made its mark on the international stage, and defying expectations.
The Danish men’s national team continues to push boundaries and earn their place in the football pantheon.
Their perseverance and unwavering dedication have propelled them to an impressive 19th position in the FIFA rankings, as of June 2023, a testament to their consistent excellence on the pitch.
Throughout their history, Denmark has produced lots of exceptional talents.
In the following sections, I will list out the 10 greatest Danish soccer players of all time, sharing the intimate details of their personal and professional journeys.
Before that, let’s take a look at Danish men’s success
- Winners: UEFA European Championship 1992
- Semi-finalists: UEFA European Championship 1984
- Fourth place: UEFA European Championship 1964
- Winners: FIFA Confederations Cup 1995
- Silver medals: Football at the Summer Olympics 1908, 1912, 1960
- Bronze medal: Football at the Summer Olympics 1948
- Winners: Olympic football tournament 1906
- Winners: Nordic Football Championship 1924-1928, 1978-1980, 1981-1985
- Greatest Danish Footballers Of All Time
- 1. Peter Schmeichel – 129 caps, 1 goal
- 2. Michael Laudrup – 104 caps, 37 goals
- 3. Christian Eriksen – 102 caps, 39 goals -(still playing)
- 4. Jon Dahl Tomasson – 112 caps, 52 goals
- 5. Allan Rodenkam Simonsen – 55 caps, 20 goals
- 6. Brian Laudrup – 82 caps, 21 goals
- 7. Morten Olsen – 102 caps, 4 goals
- 8. Kasper Peter Schmeichel – 93 caps, 0 goals (still playing)
- 9. Preben Elkjær Larsen – 69 caps, 38 goals
- 10. Thomas Sørensen – 101 caps, o goals
Greatest Danish Footballers Of All Time
1. Peter Schmeichel – 129 caps, 1 goal
Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers in history, Peter Schmeichel was a colossus between the posts.
Known for his commanding presence, reflexes, and leadership qualities and his iconic “Star Jump” save technique, Peter embarked on his football career in 1987 with Brondby, one of Denmark’s most illustrious clubs.
His exceptional performances during four seasons, which coincided with four consecutive Danish league titles, caught the attention of numerous esteemed clubs. As a result, at the conclusion of the 1990-91 season, Peter made a move to Manchester United in a £530,000 deal.
His time at Manchester United spanned eight years, during which he amassed over 300 appearances for the club.
Peter’s contributions in between the stick led him to become an integral part of the team.
Subsequently, he moved off to Sporting Lisbon in Portugal, but after two seasons, he returned to England to play for Aston Villa and later Manchester City.
On the international stage, Schmeichel served as the first goalkeeper for the Danish national team for an impressive 14 years, earning a record-breaking 129 caps.
His tall stature and technical abilities made him a formidable presence between the posts. In 2003, at the age of 39, Peter bid farewell to the world of football, concluding an illustrious career.
Schmeichel’s outstanding achievements include being crowned Det Gyldne Bur (Danish Goalkeeper of the Year) on four occasions.
Danish Football Player of the Year three times, UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year three times, IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper twice, Premier League Player of the Season once, and UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year once.
2. Michael Laudrup – 104 caps, 37 goals
Many people believe that this player, who was both an attacking midfielder and a striker, is the greatest Danish player ever. As a retired player for Denmark, he participated in 104 matches for the senior national team and scored 37 goals.
He played an important role in the impressive Danish teams that made a big impact at the 1986 and 1998 FIFA World Cups. Before retiring in 1998, Laudrup played for several well-known European clubs such as Lazio, Juventus, Real Madrid, and Barcelona.
Considered one of the most elegant and gifted players of his generation, Michael Laudrup mesmerized fans and opponents alike with his sublime dribbling, vision, and creativity.
A master of the midfield, Laudrup showed his talents at clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid, leaving his footprints on the Spanish football scene. His graceful style of play and ability to unlock defenses made him a true maestro.
3. Christian Eriksen – 102 caps, 39 goals -(still playing)
A modern-day Danish footballing icon, possesses exceptional technical skills and a keen eye for goal.
Eriksen embarked on his senior club career at the age of 18 in 2010, playing for Ajax. During his time there, he secured three Eredivisie titles and the KNVB Cup. In 2013, Eriksen made a transfer to Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £11 million (€12.45 million).
He received the club’s Player of the Year award twice, was voted into the 2017-18 PFA Team of the Year, and reached the UEFA Champions League Final in 2019. In 2020, Eriksen joined Inter Milan for a fee of €19.7 million (£16.9 million), and he contributed to their Serie A title victory.
During a UEFA Euro 2020 match on June 12, 2021, Eriksen collapsed on the field after suffering a cardiac arrest. He received immediate medical attention, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and was subsequently fitted with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.
Eight months later, he made a comeback to football, initially joining Brentford in the Premier League before transferring to Manchester United in the following season.
Eriksen made his senior international debut for Denmark in 2010, becoming the youngest player at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Since then, he has earned over 120 caps for the national team and has participated in five major tournaments.
He currently holds the fifth-highest goal tally in Danish football history and has been named Danish Football Player of the Year on a record-breaking five occasions.
4. Jon Dahl Tomasson – 112 caps, 52 goals
Jon Dahl Tomasson, a prolific striker, had a remarkable career that spanned over two decades.
As a forward, he had a notable career playing for various clubs. His first stint at Feyenoord brought him significant success, including winning the 2002 UEFA Cup.
He also achieved great success at AC Milan, where he won the UEFA Champions League in 2003 and reached the final in 2005. Also, he played in top-flight leagues in England, Germany, and Spain.
He holds the joint record for the most goals scored for the Denmark national team, with 52 goals in 112 appearances.
He was honored with the Danish Player of the Year award in 2002 and 2004. He represented Denmark in the UEFA European Championship in 2000 and 2004, as well as the FIFA World Cup in 2002 and 2010.
After retiring from playing, he transitioned into coaching. He initially worked as both an assistant and manager in the Netherlands before becoming an assistant manager for the Denmark national team under Åge Hareide.
In 2020, he took on the role of manager at Malmö FF, leading the team to win the Swedish championship for two consecutive seasons before departing in 2022. In June 2022, he signed a three-year contract with Blackburn Rovers.
5. Allan Rodenkam Simonsen – 55 caps, 20 goals
He was a dynamic attacking midfielder known for his speed, agility, and exceptional dribbling ability. He made a significant impact on the global stage, winning the prestigious Ballon d’Or in 1977.
As a striker, he achieved great success playing for Borussia Mönchengladbach in the German Bundesliga.
Notably, he won the UEFA Cup in 1975 and 1979 with the club. He also had a successful stint with Barcelona in Spain, winning the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1982.
Simonsen holds the unique record of being the only footballer to have scored in the finals of the European Cup, UEFA Cup, and Cup Winners’ Cup.
Simonsen represented the Denmark national team and earned 55 caps, scoring 20 goals.
He played in prestigious tournaments such as the 1972 Summer Olympics, the 1984 European Championship, and the 1986 World Cup. In recognition of his contributions to Danish football, he was voted into the Danish Football Hall of Fame in November 2008.
6. Brian Laudrup – 82 caps, 21 goals
The younger brother of Michael Laudrup was an immensely talented winger known for his flair and explosive pace.
Brian was known for his speed, dribbling skills, and knack for creating scoring chances, he had a tendency to be more selfish on the field. Rather than focusing on creating opportunities for his teammates, he often preferred to score goals himself.
Nevertheless, Brian was a remarkable player and received numerous accolades throughout his career.
He was named Danish Player of the Year on four occasions, proving his excellence within the Danish football scene.
Also, he was recognized as the Best Player at the FIFA Confederations Cup (formerly known as the King Fahd Cup) once. His remarkable performances also earned him the SFWA Footballer of the Year award twice and the SPFA Players’ Player of the Year award once.
These accolades speak to his talent and contribution to the sport.
7. Morten Olsen – 102 caps, 4 goals
A versatile defender and influential figure in Danish football, enjoyed a distinguished career as both a player and a coach.
He was named the Danish Football Player of the Year in 1983 and 1986 and undoubtedly deserves a place among Denmark’s greatest soccer players of all time.
One fascinating aspect of Olsen’s career is his versatility, as he was capable of playing in various positions on the field except for the goalkeeper. This made him a valuable and adaptable team player.
Olsen’s professional journey began at the Belgian club Brugge, which he joined thanks to a recommendation from his Danish international teammate, Benny Nielsen.
It was at Brugge that Olsen had the opportunity to play alongside Nielsen. He then moved on to Molenbeek, where he continued his football career while also representing the Danish national team alongside Benny Nielsen and Kresten Bjerre.
In an intriguing turn of events, Olsen found himself reunited with Benny Nielsen at his next club, Anderlecht, where he experienced great success.
During his six-year stint at Anderlecht, Olsen won three Belgian championships and eventually earned the honor of being named the team’s captain.
After the 1986 World Cup, Olsen, at the age of 36, decided to leave Anderlecht and joined 1 FC Köln in the Bundesliga. He remained with Köln until the end of his career, continuing to contribute his skills and experience to the team.
Olsen’s versatile playing style, coupled with his accomplishments at both club and international levels, solidify his status as one of Denmark’s finest footballers.
8. Kasper Peter Schmeichel – 93 caps, 0 goals (still playing)
Following in the footsteps of his legendary father, Peter Schmeichel, Kasper Schmeichel has carved out an impressive career of his own.
A commanding presence between the posts, Schmeichel has exhibited remarkable shot-stopping abilities, leadership qualities, and a strong aerial presence.
Schmeichel rose to prominence during his time at Leicester City, playing a big role in their fairy-tale Premier League title-winning campaign in 2015-2016. His consistent performances, acrobatic saves, and ability to inspire his teammates made him a key figure in their historic triumph.
Known for his distribution skills and quick reflexes, Schmeichel has earned a reputation as one of the finest goalkeepers in the Premier League.
His performances have often been characterized by crucial saves in high-pressure situations, displaying his mental strength and resilience.
Schmeichel’s contributions extend beyond the club level. As Denmark’s first-choice goalkeeper, he has represented his country with distinction in major international tournaments.
His performances in the UEFA European Championship, including Denmark’s victorious campaign in 2021, have showed his ability to rise to the occasion and make match-winning saves.
9. Preben Elkjær Larsen – 69 caps, 38 goals
Preben Elkjær Larsen was a powerful and charismatic striker who left a lasting impact on Danish football. With his physical presence, aerial prowess, and goal-scoring instinct, Larsen played a crucial role in Denmark’s memorable run to the European Championship semifinals in 1984.
He played for Hellas Verona in Italy, contributing to the team’s historic victory in the 1985 Serie A, which remains the club’s only major title.
He played a prominent role as part of the Danish side under coach Sepp Piontek, representing his country at the Euro 1984 and the 1986 World Cup, where Denmark made their first-ever appearance.
This Danish team is often referred to as the golden generation of Danish football and is highly regarded by their fellow countrymen. At the 1986 World Cup, Elkjær was honored with the Bronze Ball award.
Considered one of the top forwards of the 1980s, Elkjær achieved notable recognition in the Ballon d’Or awards.
He finished second in 1985, after placing third the previous year, and ultimately secured fourth place in 1986.
His time at Verona left a lasting impression, and he continues to be fondly remembered there. In fact, he earned the enduring nickname “Il sindaco” (the mayor) during his stint at the club.
Even today, several hundred voters in Verona write his name on their ballots during mayoral elections. Known for his scoring prowess and charismatic personality, Elkjær remains one of the most beloved sports figures in Denmark.
10. Thomas Sørensen – 101 caps, o goals
A highly accomplished goalkeeper made a name for himself with his agility, shot-stopping abilities, and leadership qualities.
He started his football career with his local team, Odense BK. After impressing during loan spells at Vejle Boldklub and Svendborg, he caught the attention of English club Sunderland, who signed him in 1998.
For five years, he served as the first-choice goalkeeper for Sunderland, establishing himself as a reliable presence.
In 2003, he made a move to Aston Villa for a transfer fee of £2 million. At Villa Park, he continued to be a regular starter until a disagreement with manager Martin O’Neill resulted in him being dropped and eventually released in May 2008.
Following his departure from Aston Villa, Sørensen joined Stoke City, where he enjoyed three successful seasons as the team’s first-choice goalkeeper. His contributions helped Stoke City solidify their position in the Premier League.
After his time at Stoke, he ended his playing career with a two-year stint at Melbourne City in Australia. An impressive feat for Sørensen is that he holds the record for the most Premier League appearances by a Danish player, with a total of 364 matches.
From 2000 to 2012, he served as the starting goalkeeper for the Denmark national football team, taking over the position from the legendary Peter Schmeichel.
Sørensen represented his country in 101 matches, making him the eighth-most-capped player in Danish history.
He was a part of Denmark’s squads for UEFA Euro 2000, the 2002 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2004, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, showcasing his longevity and consistency at the international level.
Other Notable Greatest Danish Soccer Players
- Poul Nielsen
- Søren Lerby
- Daniel Agger
- Harald Nielsen
- Henning Jensen
Who is the famous Danish?
- Caroline Wozniacki, tennis player
- Michael Laudrup, footballer
- Lars von Trier, film director
- Peter Schmeichel, footballer
- Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, actor
- Viggo Mortensen, actor
- Nicklas Bendtner, footballer
- Christain Eriksen
When Did Denmark last qualify for the World Cup?
Denmark made their FIFA World Cup debut in 1986. The Danish national team has since qualified for several World Cup, with their most recent appearance being in Qatar 2022, making it their sixth overall participation.
What is Denmark famous for?
Denmark is known for being Hans Christian Andersen’s birthplace, for the Little Mermaid statue, and for being the Happiest Nation worldwide.
- Danish Design
- Viking History
- Fairy Tales and Literature
- Bicycling Culture
- Renewable Energy Leadership
- New Nordic Cuisine
Who is the most famous sportsman in Denmark?
One of the most famous sportsmen in Denmark is a footballer. Laudrup is considered one of the greatest Danish football players of all time and has had a highly successful career both domestically and internationally.
Who is the best female striker in Denmark?
Danish captain Pernille Harder is considered one of the best players in the world and is also the most expensive player in the history of the game.
How many Danish have played in the premier league?
The 76 Danish who have played in the premier league to date include Peter Schmeichel, Thomas Gravesen, Christian Eriksen, Daniel Agger, Jon Dahl Tomasson Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Kasper Schmeichel.
What is Denmark’s popular sport?
Football is the most popular sport in Denmark, with over 313,000 players in more than 1600 clubs.
What is the traditional Sport in Denmark?
Denmark has excelled in various sports, but if we consider popularity, cultural significance, and international success, handball is often considered Denmark’s best sport.
Handball has a strong following in Denmark and is widely played at both amateur and professional levels. The Danish national handball teams, both men’s and women’s, have achieved remarkable success on the international stage.
Which are the most successful clubs in Denmark?
- FC Copenhagen (FCK)
- Brøndby IF
- Aalborg BK (AaB)
- Odense Boldklub (OB)
- FC Nordsjælland
How many leagues are they in Denmark?
The Danish football league system is held under the jurisdiction of the national Danish Football Association (DBU) and its professional body Divisionsforeningen (DF), along with its six regional associations. On top of the hierarchical system sit the level one Superliga, the level two 1. division and the level three 2.
- Danish Superliga
- Danish 1st Division
- Danish 2nd Division
- Series 1 (Regional leagues)
- Series 2 (Regional leagues)
- Series 3 (Regional leagues)
- Series 4 (Regional leagues)
- Lower divisions and local leagues (beyond Series 4)
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