A tragedy behind triumph: The story of Kim Vilfort
Summer of 1992. Denmark and France face off in the group stage of a major tournament. In a hospital room in Copenhagen, a Danish footballer, who participated in the first two matches of the tournament, watches the game alongside his daughter, who is battling leukemia. To everyone’s surprise, Denmark wins the match and advances to the semifinals, even though they were invited to the competition almost at the last moment.
At the end of the game, the 6-year-old turns to her father and says, “I want you to play in the next match.” He decides to heed her request and returns to the tournament for the next two historic games. When he rejoins the national team, he informs his teammates: “I promised her that we would win it, so give it your all.” Nine days later, Denmark is the European champion for the first time in its history. The goal that seals the final is scored by the man who promised his sick daughter that he would win for her, even though he is not a forward.
Reading the prologue, one might think it’s the script for a fictional “feel-good” sports movie, the kind usually aired on channels on Sunday afternoons. The truth is, they wouldn’t be wrong. The above description is from the movie “Sommeren ’92,” released in theaters in 2015. However, what makes the twist is that the film is based on a true story.
Almost every football enthusiast is familiar with how the Danes unexpectedly found themselves at Euro 1992. On May 31, 1992, UEFA, in the context of UN sanctions, announced the exclusion of Yugoslavia from the tournament. Denmark, finishing second in their qualifying group, took their place. While the Yugoslavs were packing up to leave Sweden, the Danes were rushing to assemble their players to face the English in the opening match just 11 days later.