A leading sports cardiologist has warned Danish footballer Christian Eriksen may never play again following Saturday’s health scare in Copenhagen.
The football community held its breath after Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed face-forward late in the first half of Denmark’s Euro 2020 opener against Finland.
Teammates formed a shield around Eriksen as medics performed CPR on the pitch – several of the athletes were in tears while others prayed.
Following 10 minutes of medical attention on the pitch, the 29-year-old was stretchered out of the venue and taken to hospital.
The Danish Football Union later confirmed Eriksen was “awake” and “stable”.
“This morning we have spoken to Christian Eriksen, who has sent his greeting to his teammates,” a statement read.
“His condition is stable, and he continues to be hospitalised 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.”
Professor Sanjay Sharma, who worked with Eriksen during his seven-year stint at Tottenham Hotspur, warned that football bodies would be reluctant to allow the Inter Milan midfielder to play again.
“Clearly something went terribly wrong,” Sharma told the PA news agency.
“But they managed to get him back, the question is what happened? And why did it happen?
“This guy had normal tests all the way up to 2019, so how do you explain this cardiac arrest?
“The fact he’s stable and awake, his outlook is going to be very good.
“I don’t know whether he’ll ever play football again.
“Without putting it too bluntly, he died today, albeit for a few minutes, but he did die and would the medical professional allow him to die again? The answer is no.
“His cardiac arrest has rocked the entire nation today and that’s what happens. It’s not just them that it affects, it’s the psyche of so many people.
“The good news is he will live, the bad news is he was coming to the end of his career, so would he play another professional football game? That I can’t say.
“In the UK he wouldn’t play. We’d be very strict about it.”
'Life-saving cardiac massage'
Eriksen made 226 appearances for Spurs between 2013-2020 before signing with Inter Milan last year. He has also played 109 matches for Denmark since making his international debut in 2010.
Speaking after the match at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium, Denmark team doctor Martin Boesen revealed Eriksen’s pulse had stopped during the scary ordeal.
“We were called on to the field when Christian collapsed. He was lying on his side when we approached him and there was respiration and pulse,” Boesen said.
“But that picture changed and he then received life-saving cardiac massage. We quickly got help from the stadium doctor and we got Christian back.”
Yesterday, Boesen told reporters there was still no explanation for what caused Eriksen’s cardiac arrest.
“He was gone, and we did cardiac resuscitation,” he said.
“How close were we? I don’t know. We got him back after one defib [defibrillation], so that’s quite fast.
“There’s no explanation so far … that is also one of the reasons that he is still in the hospital.”
The sporting community praised Denmark captain Simon Kjaer for securing his teammate’s neck, clearing his airways and administrating CPR until medics arrived.
Referee Anthony Taylor was also congratulated for his quick thinking, most notably by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
South Korea’s Son Heung-min dedicated his 66th-minute penalty in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Lebanon to Eriksen.
Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand praised his team for returning to the field and completing the match following the traumatising ordeal.
“Everyone agreed to play, and what we tried to do was incredible,” Hjulmand said.
“We have a group of players I can’t praise enough. I couldn’t be prouder of these people who take such good care of each other.
“They decide first of all not to do anything until we were sure that Christian was conscious and that everything was okay.
“So we had two options, either finish the game tonight or play tomorrow at midday. Everyone agreed on playing today.
“The fact that the players tried to play the second and dominate … I’m very affected.”
Hjulmand later conceded he regretted the decision to continue the game, but revealed that Eriksen wanted the team to carry on.
“Christian wishes that we should continue playing, so we will do that,” Hjulmand said.
“We want to play for Christian.”
Following their 1-0 defeat to Finland, Denmark will next face Belgium on Friday morning at 2am AEST.
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