Welcome to Last Word on Football’s ‘Families in Football’ series. Over the next few weeks, we take a look at siblings, cousins, and even parents and children that have played the beautiful game. Some have played cup finals together while others have been on opposing sides. Today we look at Peter and Kasper Schmeichel.
Families in Football: Peter and Kasper Schmeichel
Widely regarded as the greatest keeper in Manchester United’s history, Peter Schmeichel’s career started off in the lower leagues of his native Denmark with little known sides Gladsaxe-Hero and Hvidore.
In 1987, he moved to Brondby where his career would take off, both at club and international level – national team honours followed later this year.
With Schmeichel in nets, Brondby began to dominate the division – four league titles and a runner-up position in the five seasons he spent with them. A Danish Cup in ’89 was also secured.
His performances did not go unnoticed. Manchester United signed Schmeichel for £505,000 in August 1991, a fee later described by Sir Alex Ferguson as “the bargain of the century”.
Schmeichel was instantly a pillar of the team and the success in the following years. He quickly became renowned for acrobatic and unorthodox saves, as well as rollicking’s of his own defenders.
In his eight seasons at Old Trafford, the Great Dane would capture five league titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup and the big one – the European Cup.
In doing this, he landed two league and FA Cup doubles, and the treble in 1999 – the first and only time an English side had achieved such a feat.
Schmeichel played a pivotal role in the treble success – saving a Dennis Bergkamp penalty in an FA cup semi-final replay and captaining the side, in the absence of the suspended Roy Keane, to glory in the European Cup final in Barcelona. His final moment as a Manchester United player would be lifting the trophy alongside Sir Alex Ferguson.
Having announced midway through the 1998/99 season, he was to depart in the summer, he signed for Sporting Lisbon on a two year deal in the hope of a less intense schedule. Success would come in his first season, as another league title was secured – the tenth of his career.
When his contract finished, Schmeichel surprisingly returned to England with Aston Villa in the summer of 2001. After one season at Villa Park, Schmeichel returned to Manchester, but in a shocking turn of events, it was to the blue side of the City.
In his sole season at Maine Road, Schmeichel captained City to a 3-1 derby day win – famously after being refused a handshake by old teammate Gary Neville. He retired in the spring of 2003, months before his 40th birthday.
At international level, Schmeichel was a fixture in the Danish side for near 14 years from 1987 to 2001 – he holds the record for Danish caps with 129. He featured in one World Cup and four European Championships – being a major part of Denmark’s historic win in 1992, a tournament they were only admitted to following the outbreak of war in Yugoslavia, and their subsequent removal.
Where Peter finished his career, his son Kasper started his, joining the club’s academy when his dad signed on.
After loan spells with Darlington, Bury and Falkirk, Kasper would be thrust into first-team action in August 2007 under new City gaffer Sven-Göran Eriksson, starting the opening seven games of the season.
After signing a new long term contract, he went out on further loans at Cardiff City and Coventry City. By the time he was back at City, Joe Hart was the established number one.
Schmeichel’s next move was rather interesting, dropping down to League Two with faux-rich Notts County, coached again by Sven. Promotion to League One would come, but the money train slowed down and Kasper departed for Leeds United.
His stay at Elland Road was also brief, a single season to be precise. Kasper has since stated he never felt welcomed by the fans due to his father’s Old Trafford past.
After eight clubs before his 25th birthday, a home was finally found at Leicester City where his career has since flourished.
Familiarity was found at first with Sven in charge for a third time in his career, but it would be under Nigel Pearson that Schmeichel and the Foxes would make moves.
In 2012/13, he was selected in the Championship team of the year and the following year, he helped the side to promotion back to the Premier League for the first time in ten years.
A great escape was achieved in their first season back before an even greater miracle took place.
Claudio Ranieri, Pearson’s replacement, masterminded the single biggest shock in modern football history – Leicester winning the Premier League title in 2015/16.
Success would continue after this, with a run to the European Cup quarter-finals in 2017.
Under Brendan Rodgers since 2019, Schmeichel has seen his career go from strength to strength, captaining the club to their first FA Cup triumph in 2021.
Like his father, Kasper has been a regular fixture in the Danish national team. He played at the 2018 World Cup and 2020 European Championships, earning rave reviews for his performances as well as leadership following Christian Eriksen’s on-field cardiac arrest.
He is set to be a major part of Denmark’s participation in the upcoming Qatari World Cup.
Peter and Kasper Schmeichel have a combined 191 International caps, putting them just behind fellow Danes, the Laudrups, as the most capped family of all time. With Kasper still going strong, the record of 205 could be eclipsed within the next two years.
Both have won Danish Football of the Year three times.
They are one of only two father and sons to both win the Premier League – the first being Ian Wright and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
In addition to this, they are the only pair to have played the same position. Both were also 29 at the time of their maiden success.
They are also one of only three father-son duos to both win the FA Cup – joining the Lampards and Herds in an exclusive club.
Peter and Kasper Schmeichel are undefeated in Manchester derbies – 13 combined. 12 for Peter (11 with United, one with City) and one for Kasper with City.
Peter is one of few goalkeepers to have scored in the other net with 11 in total. He holds several distinct honours – the only goalkeeper to score an outfield goal for Manchester United, to score for Denmark and the first to score in the Premier League.
Schmeichel was the name of the Great Dane owned by Chesney Brown on Coronation Street – nicely played.