Helveg dismisses talk of Euro 2004 conspiracy against Italy: 'Sweden v Denmark was a real match'

The Dane, who played in the now-infamous clash eight years ago, insists his team were playing for a victory over their Scandinavian neighbours, but admits he felt great pressure
Former Denmark midfielder Thomas Helveg has maintained's innocence in the alleged 'Nordic fix' in Euro 2004, claiming their match with Sweden was "real", and not a ploy to deliberately knock Italy out of the competition.

Mass controversy erupted in Group C eight years ago as the Azzurri became the first team to bow out with five points to their name, having drawn with both Scandinavian nations before beating Bulgaria.

However, despite their point tally, Sweden netted an 89th-minute equaliser to draw 2-2 with Denmark in their final group match, thereby putting Italy's efforts in vain, and leading to speculation that Giovanni Trapattoni's were victimised.

Helveg told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "It was a real game. I wanted to take out the Swedes at all costs, there are centuries of rivalry between us. But I understand that in Italy there have been suspicions.

"Me, [Martin] Jorgensen and [Jon Dahl] Tomasson all felt the pressure. We played in Italy, and we wanted Denmark to go through, but we were also aware of the controversy that there would be if we played for a draw."

Italy find themselves in a similar position two tournaments on, amid suspicions Croatia and Spain could also record a high-scoring draw, but Helveg does not envisage the reigning champions defending their title in such circumstances.

"I think La Roja will play to win [against Croatia], as they always do."

Italy round off their Euro 2012 group-stage campaign on June 18 against Republic of Ireland.