football rocked | 

Christian Eriksen's horror show played out before a worldwide audience

Medics faced a race against time to save Denmark's biggest football hero

Denmark players make a wall around teammate Christian Eriksen being assisted by medics during the Euro 2020 soccer championship Group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (Stuart Franklin/Pool via AP)

Kevin Palmer

THERE have been few more powerful sights seen on a football field.

With their inspirational talisman Christian Eriksen in a perilous state as he lay on the ground and received medical treatment, the rest of the Denmark players formed a respectful circle around him to protect his dignity in what the watching world feared may be his final moments.

Fans inside the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen looked on as their national hero was suddenly plunged into a battle to save his life, with the drama unfolding in such a public setting in Denmark's first game of the Euro 2020 finals against Finland on home soil.

This was a nightmare few looking on could comprehend, as one of the greatest Danish sportsmen of all-time received CPR and was seemingly unresponsive. As curtains were held up around him, sport suddenly became irrelevant.

The shockwaves of the scenes coming through our TV screens from Copenhagen reverberated around the world, with the football family united in their grief amid what appeared to be the ultimate tragedy striking down the former Tottenham and current Inter Milan midfielder.

For a period, hope appeared to wane for Eriksen as his family members, who had been watching in the stands, were comforted by Danish players on the pitch,

Memories of his incredible performance as he ended Ireland's hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup final with a magical hat-trick at the Aviva Stadium came to mind as it seemed we would never again see Eriksen perform his magic on the field.

Then, miraculously, the first glimpse of hope emerged..

Denmark's Christian Eriksen is carried off after collapsing during the match Pool via REUTERS/Friedemann Vogel

As he was stretchered from the field by the medical staff that had done so much to save his life, Eriksen was captured sitting up on a stretcher and apparently rubbing his head.

Others on-site in Copenhagen suggested the player waved at fans as he left the stadium, with the news we all feared would never come beginning to leak out soon after.

"Christian Eriksen is awake and is for further examinations at Rigshospitalet," read a statement.

Uefa also confirmed the news about Eriksen's health was encouraging as they issued this statement: "Following the medical emergency for 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."

Eriksen's agent Martin Schoots then confirmed his client was breathing and talking, with the world taking a collective sigh with Christian after the horror we had all lived through with him.

As Eriksen was being taken to hospital, the fans who had remained in the Parken Stadium shared a moment that brought a tear to already damp eyes, with Finland fans shouting 'Christian' and Danish fans responding with the cry of 'Eriksen'.

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As more good news emerged about the player's condition, the remarkable prospect of the match resuming on Saturday evening in Copenhagen began to emerge, with confirmation that the players would return to the field coming just after 7pm.

"Christian Eriksen is awake and his condition remains stable. He remains hospitalised at Rigshospitalet for further examinations," read a fresh Danish FA statement. The match against Finland will be played tonight."

The game duly resumed, but Denmark's players struggled to reach their peak performance after all that went before, with coach Kasper Hjulmand admitting the 1-0 defeat was partly due to the Eriksen's drama.

"It was a really tough evening, one on which we've all been reminded what the most important things in life are. It's meaningful relationships. It's those people who are close to us. It's family and friends," Hjulmand said.

"All thoughts are with Christian and his family. Christian is one of the best footballers, but he is an even better person.

"It was more unmanageable to have to restart tomorrow. It was more unmanageable than going back out now and getting it all put behind us."

Hjulmand added: "I could not be more proud of this team, who take good care of each other.

"There are players in there who are completely finished emotionally. Players who on another day could not play this match. They are supporting each other. It was a traumatic experience.

"There is such a thing as everyone being able to say no. I said that no matter what, everything would be OK. You should be able to show aggression and joy, so it was something making room for all the emotions.

"You can't play a football match at this level without being aggressive. It can't be done."

Time will tell whether we will see Eriksen back on a football field again, but such matters seem inconsequential after a night when it seemed he might lose his life in the most public fashion imaginable.

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