My dad was a Cold War double agent, says ex-football star Peter Schmeichel


My dad was blackmailed into being a double agent during the height of the Cold War, says ex-football star Peter Schmeichel

  • Peter Schmeichel says his father was blackmailed into becoming a double agent
  • He tells Desert Island Discs his father operated on during the height of the Cold War
  • Schmeichel won five Premiership titles, three FA Cups and the Champions League










Manchester United legend’s father Peter Schmeichel was blackmailed into becoming a double agent during the height of the Cold War, the former goalkeeper has revealed.

Born in Poland, Tolek Schmeichel had married footballer Inger’s mother and wanted to start a new life in his native Denmark in the 1960s, but was told this would only be allowed if he agreed to operate as a spy for the then communist Polish government.

Schmeichel recounts today’s edition of Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4: “The condition for leaving Poland was that he would spy on Denmark and my dad didn’t want to, but he finally realized that if he didn’t agree he would never leave Poland, so he agreed and was sent to Denmark via Berlin.

He adds: “It was around the time they were building the [Berlin] Wall too. So he went through it all. He was completely paranoid and didn’t know what to do.

Peter Schmeichel and Laura von Lindholm in October 2017

Shortly after arriving in Denmark in 1961 to be with his pregnant wife, Tolek surrendered to authorities, believing that this would be the end of his ordeal. Instead, the Danish government ordered him to work for them as a double agent.

Schmeichel, 57, told presenter Lauren Laverne: “So what did he do when he came to Denmark? Finally, he denounced himself.

‘They [the Danish] had no idea. They didn’t know what to do with this guy… they only put him in a jail cell for a few days until they realized, “Well, maybe we could spy on Poland. “

“He didn’t want to do it either, but he agreed because he would go out and go see his wife and hopefully be there for the birth of his first child. In a way, he has become a double spy, a double agent.

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The father of Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel was blackmailed into becoming a double agent during the height of the Cold War, the former goalkeeper revealed

Schmeichel, known to fans as the Great Dane, won five Premiership titles, three FA Cups and the Champions League with Manchester United as well as the European Championship with Denmark in 1992.

He doesn’t think his father would have been an effective spy.

“I don’t know where he would have discovered anything that might have interested anyone, any service in Poland that they could not have discovered on their own,” he says. “Once in Denmark, his life was work, work, work.”

Her father, who became a Danish citizen in 1970, died at the age of 85, but her mother Inger is still alive and lives in Copenhagen. Schmeichel married former Playboy model Laura von Lindholm in Denmark in 2019.

  • Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 today at 11am.

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