Christian Eriksen is lucky to be alive but unlikely to play again after suffering an apparent cardiac arrest at the Euro 2020 tournament, according to a sports cardiologist who previously worked with the footballer at Tottenham.
In dramatic scenes in Copenhagen, the 29-year-old midfielder dropped to the ground at the Parken Stadium soon before half-time in Denmark’s match against Finland and was treated on the pitch before being taken to hospital.
The first-round match was suspended with players from both sides in clear distress before resuming some two hours later after Eriksen was said to be in a stable condition. Finland won 1-0.
Professor Sanjay Sharma, professor of sports cardiology at London’s St George’s University, said football bodies and medical practitioners were likely to be “very strict” about allowing Eriksen, who is now with Italian club Inter Milan to play again.
Prof Sharma, who worked with Eriksen at Spurs, said: “Clearly something went terribly wrong.
“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?”
Prof Sharma, who chairs the FA’s expert cardiac consensus group, said there were multiple reasons a cardiac arrest could have happened, such as high temperatures or an unidentified condition.
But he said reports after the match that Eriksen was awake in hospital were “a very good sign”.
“I’m very pleased. The fact he’s stable and awake, his outlook is going to be very good,” he told the PA news agency.
“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.”
Prof Sharma added: “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.”
Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand struggled to hold back the tears during his post-match press conference and revealed his side had the choice of finishing the Group B opener on the night or returning on Sunday.
“It was more unmanageable to have to restart tomorrow. It was more unmanageable than going back out now and getting it all put behind us,” he said.
“I could not be more proud of this team, who take good care of each other.
“There are players in there who are completely finished emotionally. Players who on another day could not play this match. They are supporting each other. It was a traumatic experience.”
After Eriksen collapsed, his team-mates formed a shield around the 29-year-old while he received treatment and fans from both sets of countries chanted the name of the midfielder.
The football world has united to send messages of support to Eriksen and his family. Sabrina Kvist Jensen, with whom Eriksen has two children, was consoled on the sideline by other Denmark players and team officials while the midfielder received treatment.
England, who get their Euro 2020 campaign under way on Sunday against Croatia, had been due to hold a press conference on Saturday evening with captain Harry Kane alongside manager Gareth Southgate.
But the Football Association confirmed the media briefing had been cancelled with Kane, who spent eight seasons with Eriksen at Tottenham, writing on Twitter: “Chris. I’m sending all my love to you and your family. Stay strong mate.”
Chris. I’m sending all my love to you and your family. Stay strong mate. 💙💙
— Harry Kane (@HKane) June 12, 2021
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tweeted: “Encouraging news about Christian Eriksen, we are all thinking about him and his family. Well done to the medical team and (English referee) Anthony Taylor for their calm and swift action. W.”
Later in the evening, the Dane’s Inter Milan team-mate Romelu Lukaku dedicated his first goal in Belgium’s 3-0 win over Russia to Eriksen by saying into the pitchside cameras: “Chris, I love you.”
He later told beIN SPORTS: “It was difficult to play because my mind was with my team-mate. I hope he is healthy and I dedicate this performance to him.
“I cried a lot because I was scared, obviously.”
Encouraging news about Christian Eriksen, we are all thinking about him and his family. Well done to the medical team and Anthony Taylor for their calm and swift action. W
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) June 12, 2021
Meanwhile, the BBC has apologised following complaints that it continued to broadcast while Eriksen received emergency treatment.
“We apologise to anyone who was upset by the images broadcast,” the broadcaster said in a statement. “In-stadium coverage is controlled by Uefa as the host broadcaster, and as soon as the match was suspended, we took our coverage off air as quickly as possible.”
Former Tottenham striker Gary Lineker, who anchored the BBC’s studio coverage of the match, said: “In 25 years of doing this job, that was the most difficult, distressing and emotional broadcast I’ve ever been involved with.”
In 25 years of doing this job, that was the most difficult, distressing and emotional broadcast I’ve ever been involved with. Thanks to @cesc4official @AlexScott @MicahRichards for your professionalism, warmth and empathy. Get well soon, Christian Eriksen. 🙌🏻
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) June 12, 2021
Lineker thanked his colleagues Alex Scott, Cesc Fabregas and Micah Richards, who were with him for their “professionalism, warmth and empathy”.
Of the host broadcaster’s coverage, Lineker said: “They should have stayed on a wide of the stadium. Apologies.”
Former Tottenham player and manager Glenn Hoddle, who suffered a cardiac arrest while working at the BT Sport studios in 2018, tweeted: “Thank God Christian is ok. And to those who did the CPR, it’s simple, you saved his life as I know so well.”
Fabrice Muamba, the former Bolton midfielder who collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest during a televised FA Cup game in 2012, tweeted “Please God” following the incident.