Schmeichel: "When I Played, The Team Wasn't Really Irish, It's Different Now"

Schmeichel: "When I Played, The Team Wasn't Really Irish, It's Different Now"

Danish and Man United legend and Peter Schmeichel visited Dublin today ahead of Ireland's 2018 Playoff qualification matches against Denmark to reveal Carlsberg’s plans to support the Irish football fans.

Recognising that Irish football fans are Probably the best fans in the world, Carlsberg are giving these travelling fans a warm Irish welcome to Copenhagen, allowing them to experience match day ‘The Danish Way’, but big Pete was in our neck of the woods to discuss the football, something he admits he is more apprehensive about now than when the draw was announced a few weeks ago.

Two weeks ago I was very confident, I thought we would be favourites to go through, but as the game is closing in, you start to think about all the things that a player would think about. The doubts and how you approach the game.

You've got to stay in the game and not play yourself completely out of it after the first one.

These are fantastic games to play but they're also very difficult games to play. There are so many unknowns and things you can't do in these games that you can get away with in other games. It's just one of those situations you find yourself in.

I've also got personal interest in that my son's playing. I kind of feel I'm part of it. I have the same kind of nerves if you like, nervous is the wrong word, apprehensive. And the fact that I can't do anything about it is not helping.

Kasper Schmeichel will be between the sticks as Denmark's number one goalkeeper when Martin O'Neill sends his Irish side out on Saturday, but what memories does his father have of playing against Ireland?

Denmark were in the same group as Jack Charlton's Ireland for the qualification campaign to reach USA 94, but as reigning European champions they were possibly suffering from a bit of a hangover as they failed to score in their first three games and eventually missed out on goal difference.

Schmeichel was impressed with the strength of that Irish side, although he did admit that due to Big Jack's fondness for the granny-rule, he did not consider that team to be really 'Irish', something he would not say about the current squad.


Yeah. '93 and '94, yeah. I think it's very different to the situation we have now, because when you look at the Irish team, you have no six-foot-four, six-foot-five guys - they're not there anymore. Niall Quinn, Tony Cascarino - they were there. Niall scored. [Kim] Vilfort scored for us, then he scored. 1-1.

It was different. I had a similar question before, and I said; the team wasn't really Irish back then. Jack [Charlton] was very clever, and he got the pick of the best that didn't play for England. So he had the best kind of players back then.

Now, it's true Irish. You don't have that happening anymore. But it was a really strong team back then. Strong players - players playing at the highest level: Andy Townsend playing for Aston Villa back then; you had Niall Quinn, you had Tony Cascarino; you had Roy Keane, you had Dennis Irwin playing for us; Steve Staunton - Aston Villa, Liverpool; Ray Houghton as well - Liverpool.

You had players playing at the best clubs in England, whereas today, yes, you've got Premier League players playing for Bournemouth, Burnley, Southampton, but most of the players are from the Championship. Mind you, they're playing for good clubs - Wolverhampton - but it's just different, you know?

Funnily enough, the player who scored against Denmark was Irish born [Quinn], as was the man who supplied the cross that day [Staunton], and Denmark's goal came from a mix-up between Paul McGrath and Packie Bonner who are also very Irish, but it is interesting that Schmeichel's memories of that team are that he doesn't consider them to have been truly Irish.

The current team also features players born in England and Scotland, but clearly the passion for playing for their country shines through enough to the point where Schmeichel had noticed a change from his playing days.

On 11th November Carlsberg will welcome Probably the best fans in the world to Denmark, and to be in with the chance of being there to experience the magic of its Danish roots, Carlsberg is giving Irish fans the chance to win tickets on their Facebook page over the coming days. Check out for more details.

Mikey Traynor

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