Even though Euro 2020 only started a few days ago many football fans have already decided that Simon Kjaer should be named player of the tournament.
The Denmark captain has been praised for his actions after team-mate Christian Eriksen suddenly collapsed on the pitch just before half-time during the 1-0 group B loss against Finland in Copenhagen on Saturday.
Along with English referee Anthony Taylor and the medical teams, central defender Kjaer has been “hailed a hero” for his quick response, Sky News reports.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Among the first to attend Eriksen, the 32-year-old has been credited with playing a potentially life-saving role. He also led the Danish players to form a ring around Eriksen while he was receiving treatment and helped comfort Sabrina Kvist Jensen, the player’s distraught partner.
Quick thinking by the heroic captain
When Eriksen collapsed, Kjaer “sprinted the length of the pitch and sprung into action”, says Spanish newspaper Marca. His quick thinking played a pivotal role in saving his team-mate’s life: he took Eriksen’s pulse and made sure that his tongue was not blocking his airway.
The AC Milan star “pushed aside other players to immediately place Eriksen into the recovery position”, The Sun added. He worked to stop Eriksen from swallowing his tongue and then took the “life-saving decision to start giving CPR on his stricken friend”. The medics then took over the emergency treatment on Eriksen for 15 minutes before the Inter Milan player was taken to hospital.
Describing Kjaer as a “captain and hero”, Sky Sports journalist Angelo Mangiante praised the great Dane for his “act of heroism”.
Kjaer showed “what it really means to wear the armband and lead a group of men”, said Football Espana’s Alan Feehely. “Despite the trauma of the situation, he kept his cool.”
‘They are very good friends’
After Eriksen was taken to hospital there was a long delay while the teams and Uefa decided on whether the game should be completed that night. The players agreed to resume the match once they were informed that Eriksen was awake in hospital.
For Kjaer though the emotions were too much for him to continue and he was substituted just after the hour mark.
Speaking after the match Denmark head coach Kasper Hjulmand said his captain was “deeply, deeply touched” following the incident. “He was in doubt whether he could continue and gave it a shot, but ultimately he couldn’t. I completely understand that.”
Kjaer and Eriksen both play their football in the Italian city of Milan - for AC and Inter respectively - and “they are very good friends” Hjulmand said.
Despite the bitter rivalry of their club sides, the events on Saturday “showed that football always takes second place to life”, said Football Espana’s Feehely.
‘He was gone - it was a cardiac arrest’
Danish team doctor Morten Boesen has confirmed that 29-year-old Eriksen had suffered a cardiac arrest, the BBC reports. “He was gone. We did cardiac resuscitation, it was a cardiac arrest,” said Boesen. “How close were we to losing him? I don’t know, but we got him back after one defib [defibrillation] so that’s quite fast. The examinations that have been done so far look fine. We don’t have an explanation to why it happened.”
Eriksen, who continues to be stable in hospital, has sent greetings to his team-mates and is in “good spirits”. “It’s a huge relief for the players after all this uncertainty,” said Denmark boss Hjulmand. “There is no doubt that we have been on the ropes.”
Martin Schoots, Eriksen’s agent, said that he had talked to the midfielder on Sunday and he was “making jokes” and was “in good form”, the BBC reports.
Meanwhile, when speaking to his manager Eriksen said that “I don’t remember much but I’m more concerned about you guys”. The player also asked: “How are you doing?”
“That’s typical Christian,” said Hjulmand. “It was good to see him smile.”
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.