NYON: The medical team who saved the life of Denmark player Christian Eriksen at Euro 2020, and Denmark captain Simon Kjær, are the recipients of the 2021 UEFA president’s Award.
They were first to Eriksen’s aid when the 29-year-old Internazionale midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed on the pitch during Denmark’s group stage tie against Finland in Copenhagen on June 12.
A statement from the European federation said: “Thanks to the medical team’s rapid response and expert emergency treatment, Eriksen was resuscitated on the pitch, and is now happily on the road to recovery.
“Simon Kjær shares the honour for his reaction in immediately helping Eriksen, as well as for the exceptional leadership qualities he displayed.”
UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin described the recipients of the award – which recognises outstanding achievements, professional excellence and exemplary personal qualities – as “the true heroes of Euro 2020.
He said: “This year, the President’s Award transcends football. It serves as an important and eternal reminder of just how precious life is and puts everything in our lives into the clearest perspective.
“When Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field in Copenhagen I, along with millions of other football fans, was deeply shocked and concerned.
“To everyone’s great joy and relief, Christian’s life was eventually saved thanks to the remarkable professionalism of the medical team. I have the utmost admiration for the doctors and medical staff for their outstanding reaction and calmness,”
Eriksen, in a message of his own, said: “I would like to thank Morten [Skjoldager], Morten [Boesen] and the medical team who helped in Parken on 12 June.
“You did a fantastic job and saved my life. Also a big thanks to my friend and captain Simon and my teammates in the Danish team for your support, both on 12 June and afterwards.
“Thanks to all the fans who have sent messages to me and my family. It means a lot and has given us strength and support. Thank you.”
Eriksen was resuscitated through the deployment of the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) technique and a defibrillator before he was stretchered off and taken to hospital.
Kreutzfeldt said: “We rushed to the field to help [Christian] and to do our job. We did what we should, what we were taught, what we were trained to do.
“Everybody knew their role, everybody knew what to do. We were not emotional at the scene. Afterwards, we were, of course, like everybody. We’re very happy and proud of the outcome.”
The award also recognises Kjær’s response to the situation. The 32-year-old AC Milan defender was one of the first people to reach Eriksen when he collapsed. He put Eriksen in the recovery position, started the initial CPR procedure, led the Danish players in forming a protective ring around their teammate while he was being given urgent medical attention, and comforted Eriksen’s partner.
Ceferin added: “I remain grateful for the exemplary leadership qualities and immense courage that Denmark’s captain, Simon Kjær, displayed in this most critical of situations.
Kjær said: “It’s something that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. The team reacted as a unit…as a team, we made the maximum effort to stick together and try to get through that situation and be as helpful as possible.
“I try to lead the team on and off the pitch, in every aspect of life, as footballers, when we’re together. I think it’s one of the biggest privileges I have in my career.”
I’ve known Christian [Eriksen] for many years. He has a great family, he has a lot of friends, a lot of teammates that want the best for him. As long as he’s happy and his family is good, I’m happy. “
Recipients of the 2021 UEFA President’s Award:
On-site medical team
Mogens Kreutzfeldt (chief medical officer)
Frederik Flensted (stadium medical manager)
Anders Boesen (pitchside emergency doctor)
Peder Ersgaard (paramedic)
UEFA Venue Medical Officers
Valentin Velikov Danish national medical team
Morten Skjoldager (physio accompanying the team doctor)
Morten Boesen (team doctor)
Simon Kjær (Denmark national team captain)