KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The collapse on the pitch of Christian Eriksen at the Euro 2020 finals provided a shocking reminder of the line of perception which divides sporting entertainment from the often-agonising drama of the real world.
Denmark’s captain needed extensive treatment on the pitch at the Parken stadium in Copenhagen in a Group B tie against Nordic neighbours Finland.
The match resumed later, at the request of the players and Finland marked their first appearance at a major tournament by winning 1-0. Joel Pohjanpalo scored the winner on the hour and keeper Lukas Hradecky saved a penalty from Pierre-Emile Højbjerg..
Not that the outcome of the match mattered by comparison with events earlier.
Eriksen, 29, had been at the heart of the action in a goalless first half in the Group B tie when he was seen to stumble and fall while running forward as a team-mate took a throw-in towards him in the 43rd minute.
Team-mates immediately summoned medical help and English referee Anthony Taylor halted the game. Both sets of players and officials were distraught as Eriksen received cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillator treatment on the pitch.
Subsequently referee Taylor formally halted the game and the Finland players and coaching staff returned to their dressing rooms.
The Danish players, some apparently praying, remained standing as a shield around the stricken player who was subsequently carried from the pitch on a stretcher while continuing to receive oxygen from a mask.
Later European federation UEFA stated: “The player has been transferred to the hospital and has been stabilised.” The Danish DBU said: “Christian Eriksen is awake and will undergo further examinations.”
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “Moments like this put everything in life into perspective. I wish Christian a full and speedy recovery and pray his family has strength and faith.
“At these times, the unity of the football family is so strong and he and his family carry with them the good wishes and prayers of everyone. I heard of fans of both teams chanting his name. Football is beautiful and Christian plays it beautifully.”
Danish captain Eriksen started his professional career in Amsterdam with Ajax where he won the league title in 2010–11, 2011–12, and in 2012–13. The following year he joined Tottenham and was named the club’s Player of the Year in his debut season.
In seven years in north London he was voted the club’s player of the year in 2017 season. In the 2018–19 season, Eriksen became only the second player after David Beckham to more than 10 assists in four successive Premier League seasons.
He was key member of the Spurs side who reached the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final before joining Italy’s Internazionale the following January. He has just helped Inter win their first Serie A crown in 11 years.
Eriksen made his debut for Denmark in March 2010 and was the youngest player at the 2010 World Cup. He has scored 36 goals in 108 national team appearances and been voted Danish Football Player of the Year a record five times.
Other national associations send messages of sympathy and support to the Danish federation. England’s FA said: “Our thoughts this evening are with Christian Eriksen and his family, and all connected with the Danish Football Union.”
Two seasons before Eriksen joined Tottenham visiting midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the White Hart Lane pitch while playing for Bolton Wanderers in 2012. He suffered a cardiac arrest which lasted for 78 minutes but eventually recovered albeit without ever playing again.