Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest and “was gone” after collapsing on the pitch during Denmark’s Euro 2020 game against Finland, the Danish team doctor has confirmed.
Moerten Boesen performed CPR on the 29-year-old on the pitch during the first half of the game, which was postponed for approximately 90 minutes while Eriksen received emergency medical treatment.
Eriksen is in a stable condition in Copenhagen’s Rigshospitalet and has spoken to teammates from the Danish national team.
“We don’t have an explanation for what happened,” Boesen said at a press conference on Sunday. “I didn’t see it live, I saw it on the screen after it happened.
“It was a cardiac arrest. He was gone and we did cardiac resuscitation. How close were we to losing him? I don’t know. We got him back after one defib [defibrillation]. That’s quite fast.
“The examinations that have been done so far look fine. We don’t have an explanation to why it happened.”
Boesen confirmed that Eriksen had been “lying on his side, breathing with a pulse” when the Danish team’s medical staff got to him on the pitch, but that his condition deteriorated soon after. Having carried out heart treatment on the midfielder with “fantastic and quick help from the stadium doctor and the rest of the emergency services,” Boesen managed to speak to the player before he was taken to hospital.
Eriksen’s message to teammates
Danish head coach Kasper Hjulmand revealed that he spoken to Eriksen via video link and said that the Inter Milan midfielder was more concerned with his teammates, who have received crisis assistance following yesterday’s incident. “That’s typical Christian,” said Hjulmand.
“I think you are feeling worse than I am,” Hjulmand quoted Eriksen as saying to his teammates. “I feel as if I’m about to go training now, boys.”
Hjulmand added: “Christian was concerned about us and he doesn’t remember a lot about yesterday, so he asked how the team was doing.
“Christian is a big person. He felt that he can play because he is at his happiest on the pitch. He said this morning that we maybe had it worse than him because he wants to get out on the training pitch again. We have to see if we can gather ourselves and go out and play for Christian.”
Many of Eriksen’s teammates crowded around him as he received treatment so as to shield him from the glare of cameras and supporters in Parken Stadium. Kasper Schmeichel comforted Eriksen’s partner on the pitch while Simon Kjaer has earned praise for his conduct in the immediate aftermath of his teammates’ collapse.
Schmeichel’s father Peter told the BBC that his son had been the one to inform Sabrina Kvist Jensen that her partner was alive. “I saw Kaspar run over to her,” Schemichel said. “I spoke to him last night and he [said that he] ran over to say that Christian was breathing. She actually thought that he had passed away. To confirm that, he went back to be absolutely sure he wasn’t saying anything that was out of order. By then, Christian was talking to the doctor.”
Should the game have gone ahead?
The game against Finland resumed once both sides had been told that Eriksen was awake in hospital. Finland would go on to win their first match at a major international tournament 1-0, Joel Pohjanpalo heading home the winner in the second half. Hjulmand said that his players unanimously decided to play the match having been informed by UEFA that they could either complete it on Saturday evening or on midday local time Sunday.
Hjulmand said on Sunday: “We should not have played. Players have different reactions to shocks and trauma but we’ll try to get back to normal as much as possible.”
Danish players shield Eriksen as he receives treatment
UEFA’s decision to offer Denmark those two options has been roundly condemned including by CBS Sports pundit Peter Schmeichel, who told the BBC that the European football’s governing body should have “shown a little bit of compassion” in attempting to schedule the remainder of the game. The continental spread of Euro 2020 made it hard for any further dates to be offered with Finland due to play Russia in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday.
Finland striker Teemu Pukki said after the game: “We decided to do what the Danish team would decide and were ready to continue whatever decision was taken. It was definitely not easy to come back to the pitch. But once we heard everything seemed to be fine, we started concentrating again on the game.”
Denmark, who play their next match against Group B leaders Belgium on Thursday, cancelled a training session on Sunday but Hjulmand hopes his players can “get back to some normality tomorrow.” He added: “I get the feelings from the players that maybe the time is too short to try to play football again, but maybe we can use it as a force to get together and try to go out and do our best in the next match.”
Football and beyond rally around Eriksen
In a statement posted early on Sunday morning in Europe, the Danish Football Union offered their thanks to those who had already offered support to Eriksen. “We would like to thank everyone for the heartfelt greetings to Christian Eriksen from fans, players, the Royal Families from both Denmark and England, international associations, clubs, etc.
“We encourage everyone to send their greetings to the Danish FA, where we will make sure they are all passed on to Christian and his family.”
Eriksen’s fellow Inter MIlan player Romelu Lukaku dedicated his first goal in Belgium’s 3-0 win over Russia to his team mate, running over to the cameras and shouting “Chris, Chris, I love you”.
Heung-min Son, who played alongside the Dane at Tottenham Hotspur, celebrated his winning goal for South Korea against Lebanon in similar fashion. “Christian Eriksen, I love you,” he said.
Another of Eriksen’s former teammates, Tottenham’s Harry Kane, tweeted: “Chris. I’m sending all my love to you and your family. Stay strong mate.” Before Kane and England took to the field for their Euro 2020 game against Croatia on Sunday the video screens at Wembley Stadium bore the message “best wishes Christian” with fans from both sides applauding for the Danish international.
Players and staff of Sweden show a message of support for Christian Eriksen during the Sweden Training Session ahead of the Euro 2020 Group E match between Spain and Sweden
The Swedish national team displayed a banner supporting Eriksen before their training session in Seville, where they play Spain in a Euro 2020 match on Monday. Sweden vice captain Sebastian Larsson said: “All our thoughts, love and strength go to Christian, his family, his loved ones and the entire Danish troupe. FIGHT CHRISTIAN!”
‘No hint of health problem’
Eriksen had no history of heart problems prior to the incident when he fell to the floor with no players on either side near him as he ran to control the ball from a throw in.
“We had a bad time, not just me, but the whole family of our club,” Inter Milan team doctor Piero Volpi told Gazzetta Dello Sport. “In the next few days he will be subjected to in-depth examinations.
“The important thing is that he is well, but there had never been any episode that even remotely hinted at a problem when he was at Tottenham nor at Inter. In Italy there are very strict controls.”
Inter chief executive Giuseppe Marotta revealed that Eriksen had sent a message on the team WhatsApp group stating his hope to return soon. Marotta added that the Dane had “never had COVID-19 and he has never been vaccinated.”
“He is a champion, we want to hold onto him for a long time and hope he can resolve these health problems,” Marotta said.
Eriksen, Danish Footballer of the Year winner a record five times, played in 26 Serie A matches for Inter Milan last season as they won their first league title in 11 years. The 29-year-old already has over 100 caps to his name for his national team, his tally of 109 the fourth-most of any player for the Red and White. His 36 goals places him seventh on Denmark’s all-time scoring chart.