Denmark captain Simon Kjaer played a heroic role in saving team-mate Christian Eriksen’s life after the former Tottenham midfielder collapsed on the pitch during his country’s Euro 2020 opening match against Finland on Saturday.
Shortly before half-time at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Eriksen suddenly fell to the ground as he ran back from the Finland penalty area, leaving players from both teams in clear distress.
Kjaer rushed to his stricken team-mate and was the first to get to Eriksen, 29. He quickly ensured he didn’t swallow his tongue while he lay unconscious – and even gave him CPR before the medics arrived.
English referee Anthony Taylor immediately called medics on to the pitch and Eriksen underwent prolonged treatment, with compressions performed on the chest of the 29-year-old Inter Milan player before he was taken to hospital for further treatment, where his condition was said to have stabilised.
Kjaer, 32, instructed his other team-mates to form a barrier around Eriksen so he could have as much privacy as possible while Eriksen received treatment.
He also raced over to Eriksen’s wife, Sabrina Kvist, and embraced her as the terrifying scenes unfolded.
Denmark captain Simon Kjaer (right) stood up as a leader when Christian Eriksen collapsed
Kjaer (left) was the first to Eriksen when he went to ground and helped clear his airways
Kjaer (top) bravely stayed and watched on as Eriksen received CPR treatment from medics
Kjaer (second left) made sure his team-mates encircled Eriksen while he was unconscious
It follows a dramatic night in Copenhagen in which:
- A statement from the Danish FA said Eriksen ‘is awake and his condition remains stable’ but remains hospitalised for ‘further examinations’
- England captain Harry Kane was reportedly ‘numb with shock’ as he watched his former Tottenham team-mate fight for his life
- The BBC issued an apology after images of Eriksen receiving treatment were broadcast during their live coverage before they returned to the studio
- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sent a message of support for Eriksen and hailed the medical team for their ‘calm and swift action’
- Denmark manager Kasper Hjulmand admitted his players are ‘completely finished emotionally’
- A leading cardiologist warned 29-year-old Eriksen is unlikely to ever play football again
- BBC pundit Alex Scott was on the verge of tears while discussing the incident live on-air
Leading NHS cardiologist Dr Scott Murray has told Sportsmail that Kjaer’s heroics were the right thing to do and that Eriksen was ‘lucky’ to have such a good support around him.
He told MailOnline: ‘We’re just lucky that the players on the pitch knew what to do, to put him in a safe position and make sure he wasn’t choking and alert the medical team.’
Kjaer then made sure that all of his team-mates on the field escorted Eriksen to the changing rooms while he was motionless on a stretcher with an oxygen mask attached to his nose.
The defender also consoled Eriksen’s partner Sabrina Kvist (left) when she came to the pitch
Kjaer (second from front) led his side back out to resume nearly two hours after the incident
England captain Harry Kane left ‘numb with shock’ after friend and ex-Tottenham team-mate Christian Eriksen collapses
The Denmark midfielder was treated with CPR on the field before being rushed to hospital after stumbling to the ground in the first half of his country’s Euro 2020 opener with Finland.
Eriksen has now been confirmed to be in a ‘stable condition’ in hospital, but the scenes drew concern from all across the football world, including in the England camp.
This was done to prevent the many photographers from taking pictures or making videos that could alarm or create unpleasant suggestions to fans all over the world through television.
Denmark team doctor Morten Boesen said he quickly realised there wasn´t a second to lose.
‘[Christian.] was breathing, and I could feel his pulse. But suddenly that changed,’ Boesen. ‘And as everyone saw, we started giving him CPR.
‘We managed to get Christian back. And he spoke to me before he was taken to the hospital.’
Finnish fans were then heard shouting the name ‘Christian’ and all the Danish fans present at the stadium responded by shouting the surname ‘Eriksen’.
The defender is one of Eriksen’s best friends, and the pair meet up together regularly in Milan, irrespective of the rival teams they play for in the city.
An investigation into the player’s health to understand what happened to a healthy athlete who has never had serious physical problems in his career is now set to take place.
Eriksen is now in a ‘stable condition’ in hospital with the Danish Football Union confirming their star player ‘is awake’ and awaits further tests.
His agent Martin Schoots told a Danish radio station that he ‘breathes and can speak. He is out of danger’.
Eriksen is also understood to have spoken to his teammates from his hospital bed to reassure them of his condition.
According to The Sun, Harry Kane – the England captain and Eriksen’s former team-mate at Tottenham – was ‘numb with shock’ and ‘devastated’ as the Three Lions watched the scenes unfold before their opening game of the Euros on Sunday.
Kjaer was dejected after his side lost 1-0 to Finland – but he won the hearts and minds of many
But fans and ex-players were left furious after UEFA order the rest of the game has to be played.
Remarkably, the match kicked off again around 7.30pm UK time following confirmation from UEFA – in a move blasted as ‘greedy’ by some supporters.
His former cardiologist at Tottenham told The Mail on Sunday that it was a miracle he survived and it’s probable the star had suffered a cardiac arrest, despite having no history of heart problems.
A statement posted to UEFA’s official Twitter account read: ‘Following the medical emergency involving Denmark’s player Christian Eriksen, a crisis meeting has taken place with both teams and match officials and further information will be communicated at 19:45 CET.
‘The player has been transferred to the hospital and has been stabilised.’
The match was postponed but is set to resume around 7.30pm UK time, the Danish FU confirmed
UEFA said the restart was agreed ‘following the request made by players of both teams’
‘We pray for you’: Fabrice Muamba, Jadon Sancho and Didier Drogba among stars to send Christian Eriksen messages of support
Eriksen collapsed as a throw-in was taken towards him towards the end of the first half at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, with medical staff being called onto the pitch immediately to apply CPR and the game subsequently being postponed.
Former Chelsea star Didier Drogba wrote: ‘Fight for your life #eriksen we pray for you.’
Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed on the pitch at White Hart Lane while playing for Bolton against Tottenham in 2012, tweeted: ‘Please God’.
Eriksen’s former team Tottenham wrote: ‘All of our thoughts are with Christian Eriksen and his family.’
Cesc Fabregas, who was covering the game as a pundit, tweeted four praying emojis while Gary Lineker wrote: ‘Goodness me, this looks truly awful.’
Pundit Micah Richards wrote: ‘Praying for you Christian Eriksen’ and Dutch midfielder Marten de Roon wrote: ‘This is heartbreaking to see. Also please stop sharing videos of Christian or his girlfriend and cut off the cameras.’
Former Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil wrote: ‘Shocked. We’re all with you, Christian Eriksen. Please be ok.’
Jesse Lingard wrote: ‘Thoughts and prayers go out to Christian Eriksen and his family. Praying everything is ok’.
A later post read: ‘Following the request made by players of both teams, UEFA has agreed to restart the match between Denmark and Finland tonight at 8.30pm CET.’
Saturday night’s match between Belgium and Russia also went ahead with the former winning 3-0 in Saint-Petersburg.
The move to resume the Denmark vs Finland match was blasted online, with one fan writing: ‘I can’t believe UEFA is actually going to finish this match tonight. Greedy monsters.’
Another wrote: ‘Cancel every game today man don’t be greedy for once, please.’
Meanwhile, one Twitter user added: ‘I just hope y’all fans who were calling Super League “greedy” can see that UEFA is the biggest of all greedy entity.’
Another person called for the tournament to be halted. They wrote: ‘How greedy can you be? Cancel this match, stop this tournament!’
The drama began in the 42nd minute of the match as Denmark were attacking Finland’s goal. TV cameras cut to Eriksen – his team’s top scorer in their qualifying matches with five goals – who looked out of breath after chasing a ball that was cleared out of play by a Finland defender.
The midfielder, who moved from Tottenham to Italian side Inter Milan last year, slowed to a walk before staggering and collapsing to the ground
The Denmark team’s physios arrived within 20 seconds, but the players became distressed at the absence of emergency paramedics and waved for further assistance.
An emergency team soon arrived and after a couple of minutes the stunned Denmark players formed a protective ring around Eriksen to shield him and the medical team.
A hush fell over the 16,000-strong crowd as the medics were seen pumping Eriksen’s chest.
Many supporters were in tears and others turned away, unable to watch the distressing scenes. Meanwhile, Kjaer and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel ran to comfort Ms Kvist Jensen, who has two children with Eriksen.
At 5.55pm, the devastated Finland team left the field, followed by the referee and other match officials. Shortly afterwards, Eriksen, by now conscious, was removed from the pitch.
The BBC faced widespread criticism for not cutting away sooner after the collapse.
Christian Eriksen is unlikely to play football again, according to a leading NHS cardiologist
Dr Scott Murray, a leading NHS consultant cardiologist specialising in prevention of heart problems, claims Italy pride themselves on their record of preventing cardiac arrests in football – so the Danish player’s problems will likely spell the end of his time in Serie A.
He told the MailOnline: ‘It probably is (the end of his career) for him. The Italians stop people participating in sport if they are found to have a significant cardiac abnormality, it’s in law.
‘They’ve been doing that for a long time, beyond 20 years and they’ve reduced the death rates from cardiac arrests in sport from beyond 3 per cent down to below one per cent.’
While Eriksen’s Denmark team-mates formed a ring around the player while he appeared to be receiving CPR, the BBC continued to broadcast the distressing scene while also showing the player’s wife on the sidelines.
Ian Wright was among those to voice their shock that the broadcaster failed to cut away for so long. He tweeted: ‘CUT TO THE STUDIO FFS!!!!’
Jermaine Beckford added: ‘This needs to cut to the studio now! Christian Eriksen This is not good for the viewing public just go back to the studio just think of who is watching come on BBC,’ tweeted Frank Bruno.
Stephen Humphrys, a forward for League One side Rochdale, also hailed the unity of the Danish players and their immediate reaction.
‘Danish players guarding their teammate from the cameras is one of the best symbols of unity I’ve ever seen,’ Humphrys’ posted. ‘Huge respect. On the other hand, they shouldn’t have had to do it but unfortunately the media have no boundaries these days.’
Spencer Owen was also critical of the decision to show Eriksen’s girlfriend as part of the coverage.
He tweeted: ‘It must have been very difficult to know what to do from a broadcasting perspective as the Eriksen situation developed, but I can’t get my head around the fact that a director must have said ‘right now cut to his wife. There’s no other way that shot happens surely? Sickening.’
The corporation later apologised after complaints, saying: ‘We apologise to anyone who was upset by the images broadcast. In-stadium coverage is controlled by Uefa as the host broadcaster, and as soon as the match was suspended, we took our coverage off air as quickly as possible.’