Soccer

Christian Eriksen in stable condition following collapse at Euro 2020

Christian Eriksen remained in stable condition in a Copenhagen hospital Sunday and "sent his greetings to his teammates" as he recovers from his collapse during a European Championship game, the Danish soccer federation said.

Team doctor says player's heart stopped and 'he was gone' before resuscitation

Denmark's Christian Eriksen is recovering in a Copenhagen hospital after suffering cardiac arrest during Denmark's game against Finland at the European Championship. (Friedemann Vogel/Reuters)

Denmark's team doctor said Sunday that Christian Eriksen's heart stopped and that "he was gone" before being resuscitated with a defibrillator at the European Championship.

Eriksen collapsed during Denmark's opening Euro 2020 group game against Finland on Saturday and was given lengthy medical treatment before regaining consciousness.

"He was gone. And we did cardiac resuscitation. And it was cardiac arrest," said team doctor Morten Boesen, who led the work in giving Eriksen treatment on the field. "How close were we? I don't know. We got him back after one defib. That's quite fast."

Eriksen was in stable condition at a Copenhagen hospital and had spoken to teammates via video link on Sunday, team officials said.

Boesen said it was still unclear what caused the midfielder's collapse.

"I'm not cardiologist, so the details about why it happened and further, I will leave to the experts," he said.

He also said the 29-year-old Eriksen may not have survived had the game not been played at a major soccer tournament with top-class medical equipment at hand.

Time 'critical factor'

"That was completely decisive, I think," Boesen said. "The time from when it happens to when he receives help is the critical factor, and that time was short. That was decisive."

The rest of the Danish team was being given crisis management assistance as they process the incident that happened during Saturday's game against Finland in Copenhagen. Eriksen fell face-forward to the ground late in the first half and needed CPR from medical staff before regaining consciousness.

"This morning we have spoken to Christian Eriksen, who has sent his greetings to his teammates," the Danish federation wrote on Twitter. "His condition is stable, and he continues to be hospitalized for further examination. The team and staff of the national team has received crisis assistance and will continue to be there for each other after yesterday's incident."

The Euro 2020 game was suspended for about 90 minutes after Eriksen's collapse. It eventually resumed and Finland won 1-0.

The Danish team cancelled all planned media activities at its base camp on Sunday and also postponed a training session.

Eriksen was being treated at Rigshospitalet, one of Denmark's top hospitals which is less than a mile away from Parken Stadium, where the game was played.

The Danish federation, known as the DBU, also thanked fans and other teams for their outpouring of support for the Inter Milan midfielder who earned a reputation as one of the world's top playmakers during his seven years in the Premier League at Tottenham.

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said after Saturday's game that the Danish players would be offered any assistance needed as they try to focus on the rest of the tournament.

Pall on party-like atmosphere

"We will spend the next few days processing this as best we can," Hjulmand said. "And of course we are surrounded by professional people. ... It's not normal to play such a game and then see one of your friends suffer with a heart issue."

The incident cast an immediate pall on what had been a party-like atmosphere in Copenhagen as Denmark hosted a major tournament game for the first time. The players had been talking about the possibility of repeating the country's upset win at the 1992 European Championship, with Eriksen the centrepiece of the team in his attacking midfield role.

Now the team will have to focus on just getting through the next game against top-ranked Belgium on Thursday in Group B. And Hjulmand praised his players for not being afraid to show their emotions both on the field and in the dressing room.

Denmark's Christian Eriksen is taken off the pitch on a stretcher by paramedics. (Friedemann Vogel/Associated Press )

"It's a traumatic experience," Hjulmand said. "The attitude [when play resumed] was let's go out and try to do what we can. And then we talked about allowing [yourself] to have all these feelings. And it was OK to say no if they weren't able to play. Some of them said that they wanted to try. And I said no matter what feelings they had, it was all OK. You had to allow yourself to try to play the game if you felt like it. And you had to dare to show happy emotions. But it was OK to say no. Because some of them they weren't able to, they weren't able to play."

Hjulmand said he had experienced a similar situation during his career as a club coach "where we almost lost someone on the field."

"And now I can see how everyone is reaching out to their families right now and tries FaceTiming them," Hjulmand said during his post-game news conference. "So that's what a situation like this does. It's a tough night."

Decision to restart game heavily criticized

The decision to restart the game on Saturday has been heavily criticized by many in Denmark, including former players Peter Schmeichel and Michael Laudrup.

UEFA gave Denmark the option to resume the game Sunday at noon but the players opted to finish it Saturday evening instead. A later date was not possible because Finland plays its second group game on Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Hjulmand said he remained proud of his players for finishing the game, but that he now had second thoughts about not insisting it should have been called off.

"In hindsight, I wonder if I could have done something differently," Hjulmand said. "Because when I look back, I honestly do not think we should have been back on the field. I am so proud that the players were able to mobilize and give it a try. It was a huge effort. But I have a guilty conscience that we were back out there."

Eriksen's health scare follows union's warning of too many games

Eriksen was playing in his 66th competitive game in exactly one year since soccer restarted after a shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The playmaker's collapseon Saturday came hours after the soccer players' union FIFPRO repeated long-standing fears about pressure on its members in a congested season.

"We are well aware of the intensity of the demands being placed on you, both physically and mentally," FIFPRO said in a statement published six hours before the Euro 2020 match in Copenhagen started.

Though it is still unclear what caused Eriksen's health scare, the relentless schedule resulting from the pandemic has been far from ideal.

Yet soccer's governing bodies — urged on by top clubs like Eriksen's Inter Milan — spent much of the season pushing plans and ideas to add more games and extra competitions in future seasons.

Eriksen was involved in 52 games for Inter in four different competitions since last June 13.

During the pandemic, he was often used as a substitute but most appearances were in high-stakes games. Inter was the Serie A and Europa League runner-up last season, and then won the Italian title this season after playing in the most competitive Champions League group.

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