DUNDEE’S CONFEDERATION CUP WINNER
Last weekend the FIFA Confederations Cup kicked off in Brazil and it is the ninth time that the competition has taken place.
In the second tournament back in 1995 Dundee FC had a player in the winning squad when Morten Wieghorst played for Denmark and he came off the bench in the Final to help the Danes beat Argentina 2-0 in the Final.
The tournament was originally called the King Fahd Cup and was organised by and held in Saudi Arabia in 1992 and 1995 by the Saudi national side and some continental champions. In 1997, FIFA took over the organisation of the tournament, renamed it the FIFA Confederations Cup and staged the competition every two years until 2005 when it is now played every four years in the country due to host the World Cup the following year alongside the World Cup holders and the six reigning continental champions.
In 1995 Denmark were invited having surprisingly won the 1992 European Championships in Sweden and were alongside the hosts Saudi Arabia, Argentina (1993 Copa America champions), Japan (1992 AFC Asian Cup winners), Mexico (1993 CONCACAF Gold Cup winners) and Nigeria (1994 African Cup of Nations winners).
The six teams were split into two groups of three with the winners of each group progressing to the Final and the runners-up competing in a third-place play-off. All of the matches were played in the King Fahd II Stadium in Riyadh and Denmark were drawn in Group A alongside Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
Dundee’s Morten Wieghorst was called up into the Denmark squad having recently made his full international debut and was given squad number 14 for the tournament. He had joined Dundee from Lyngby for £225,000 in late 1992 and came to Dens as a Danish Under-21 internationalist having won six caps with them between October 1990 and September 1991 and made his full Denmark debut as a Dundee player in August 1994 coming on as a half-time substitute and scoring the deciding goal in a 2–1 win over Finland.
Wieghorst made an immediate impact in the King Fahd Cup when in Denmark’s first match against hosts Saudi Arabia he came off the bench in the 78th minute and scored Denmark’s second in injury time. It added to a goal just before half-time from Rangers’ Brian Laudrup which gave Denmark a 2-0 win and with Mexico also defeating the Saudis by the same scoreline in the tournament’s opening match, it was now a straight shoot out between the two in the group’s final game for a place in the Final.
Morten again started on the bench but this time didn’t get on so could only watch as the sides were level 1-1 after ninety minutes and needed extra time and then penalties to decide who would progress to the Final. The Danes won the shoot-out 4-2 with West Ham United’s Marc Reiper – who would become a team of Weighorst’s at Celtic in 1997 - scoring the winning penalty.
In the Group B Argentina defeated Japan 5-1 and drew 1-1 with Nigeria but with the Africans only beating Japan 3-0, Argentina went through to the Final on goal difference.
In the Final, played in front of 35,000, Weighorst was again on the bench butcame on in the 22nd minute for the injured Michael Laudrup who had given Denmark the lead in eight minutes before he had to go off.
Peter Rasmussen got a second for Denmark on 75 minutes to complete a famous 2-0 win for the Danes and in the process become the first European side to hold both the European Championship and Confederation Cup titles.
It was a not only a great honour for Wieghorst but also for his parent club Dundee and it was a great achievement for Morten as a Scottish First Division player.
It came at a price for Dundee however for as the competition took place in January, Wieghorst missed four crucial games for Dundee. The Dark Blues were pushing for promotion back to the Premier Division at the first attempt but Wieghorst’s appearance in the Confederation Cup coincided with a dip in form and vital points dropped as The Dee drew 2-2 in Perth and lost 1-0 at home to bogey side Airdrieonians.
At the end of the season Dundee missed out on the First Division title by just one point and the play-off on goal difference and on the last day of the season at Stranraer, Dundee needed a 7-0 win to at least reach the play-ff with Aberdeen but could only manage five with Morten scoring twice and then hitting the post late on.
Wieghorst was a popular player at Dens and quickly became hugely influential in the Dark Blue midfield with his craft, guile and surging runs. He also had an eye for goal and proved that on his Dundee debut away to St Johnstone on December 2nd 1992. Dundee had lost an early goal before keeper Paul Mathers was sent off but after Steve Pittman equalised, the 6ft 3in Dane announced his entrance to the Scottish game when he ghosted past three players on the edge of the box before sending a low shot past the Saints keeper.
It was a wonderful goal but with diminutive striker Duncan Campbell between the sticks,Dundee went 4-2 behind before a late fight back saw the Tayside derby thriller finish 4-4, giving Morten a debut to remember.
The highlight of Morten’s time at Dens was undoubtedly the run to the Coca-Cola Cup Final eleven months after the Confederation Cup Final. In the first round Wieghorst netted Dundee’s first in a 6-0 romp over East Stirlingshire and was on the score sheet again in the next round when The Dee dispatched Premier Division Kilmarnock 3-1 at Dens.
In the quarter-final Dundee were drawn against another top tier side when Hearts came out of the hat after Dundee and it was a game in which Wieghorst was to be the hero and fondly remembered.
In an incredible night Dundee were ahead 2-0 and 3-2 before Hearts hit back to take the tie into extra-time and in the 94th minute Wieghorst brilliantly shimmied past a couple of defenders before firing a dipping, swerving shot into the roof of the Hearts’ net.
The Jambos equalised again however and the tie went to penalties and when Hearts’ keeper Henry Smith missed from twelve yards, Morten stepped up to to strike the decisive kick to send The Dee through 5-4 on penalties and spark a mini pitch invasion.
The lanky Dane had only played after passing a late fitness test but it would be his finest performance in a dark blue shirt in one of the most enthralling games ever seen at Dens. It was another memorable goal from Wieghorst and his manager Jim Duffy paid tribute to his man of the match performance when he told the press, “Morten was superb and his goal was nothing short of magnificent.”
Wieghorst was again superb in the semi-final when a 2-1 win over Airdrie at McDiarmid Park sent Dundee to their first major final in fifteen years and the week before the Hampden date with Aberdeen, Dundee were due to play Dundee United in a league match at Tannadice.
United had been relegated at the end of the previous campaign and were Dundee’s main rivals for promotion but by half-time were in dreamland with a 2-0 lead. Wieghorst was again pulling the strings and had been involved in both goals and three minutes into the second half was on the score sheet himself when he headed home a corner to make it 3-0. United however fought back to make it 3-2 but a nervy Dundee held on for a win meaning Morten had scored the winner in a derby in what would turn out to be his last league game for the club.
A week later he played his final game in a disappointing 2-0 defeat to The Dons in the League Cup Final and in the days that followed he was off to Celtic for a then club record fee received of £500,000 plus Barry Smith (who was valued at £100,000).
Wieghorst won five Danish caps while at Dens and won thirty in total over a ten year period. He is currently assistant manager at Premiership side Swansea City under his Confederations Cup team mate Michael Laudrup – the man he had replaced in the Final!