Euro 2020: Kasper Schmeichel recalls ‘big moment’ Christian Eriksen went to training after collapse

Eriksen’s collapse in the first half of Denmark’s Euro 2020 opener against Finland, later revealed to have been caused by cardiac arrest, has been described as a “traumatic experience” by Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Schmeichel, who helped comfort Eriksen’s side-side partner, described the emotion as he returned to the Danish camp.

“I think a few guys maybe gave him a hug pretty hard,” Schmeichel recalled with a smile. “But it was really nice to see him, you know, healthy and in a good mood.

“He came to training and we were on the pitch – it was a great time. It was nice to see him. I was lucky to be able to visit him in the hospital and see him there. “Low, but for a lot of the boys it was the first time they had seen him. So naturally the practice stopped right away and everyone approached him.”

When the game surprisingly resumed later in the afternoon – a move for which UEFA received criticism from members of the Danish national team – the shocked Danish players fell to a loss 1 -0 which reduced their chances of qualifying for the round of 16.

LILY: Denmark offer good Euro 2020 history with unlikely round of 16 qualification

Another defeat to Belgium five days later seemed to end any hopes Denmark had of reaching the round of 16.

Before the last match of the group stage, Denmark had only one big win over Russia and a favorable result between Belgium and Finland would push them forward.

Schmeichel says Eriksen’s visit, which came the day after Denmark’s loss to Belgium, was the catalyst the team needed.

“I think the most important thing for us was to know that Christian was okay,” he said. “It was great to see him, he came to camp after he was released from the hospital and it helped a lot of guys, I think, just to see him and erase the last image we had of him on the pitch. .

“Seeing him in real life and seeing that he was okay was really important, and it gave us the space to go and focus on the game because we were under pressure in the direction of football, but I think, as you can see we didn’t play as a team under pressure.

“We played with freedom and we played with an identity that we had been discussing for a long, long time and [I’m] really, really proud of everyone. “

Kasper Schmeichel celebrates after Denmark's 4-1 victory over Russia.

“Additional motivation”

While Denmark’s qualification for the round of 16 might have looked like a long shot from the outside, Schmeichel said he felt “very confident” heading into the game with Russia that his team could get the win. result she needed.

“Both in the game against Finland when we picked up and also in Belgium, we played really well and we created a lot of chances – we just didn’t score any goals,” he said. he declared. “But this team has already had difficult times where we needed results and we came out on top.

“I felt with the way the boys trained and the way we played in games and how I know we can perform under pressure, I had a lot of confidence that we could shake things up and get a good result. “

However, even before the tournament started, the Danes were optimistic about their chances.

Schmeichel said there was a buzz around the camp – and the country – knowing that the Denmark national team will play all three matches in front of home fans, with Copenhagen being one of 11 European cities to be awarded the status of host for Euro 2020.

“We were very, very motivated to participate in this tournament due to the circumstances, a small country like us that can host three group matches is unheard of,” he said. “So we were very motivated beforehand, but obviously having what happened so early in the tournament for us, it all came out the window and it became so much more.

Dane Joakim Maehle celebrates after scoring his team's fourth goal against Russia.

“It became a question of people. It became a question of team and country, you know, having a pretty traumatic experience and basically everyone comes together and supports each other. So the motivation was still there and now there is just additional motivation. “

After the final whistle of Denmark’s 4-1 win over Russia, the players huddled around their coach’s phone awaiting confirmation of a Belgium victory over Finland that would secure them a place in the eighth final.

While the players were understandably delighted with their qualification, Schmeichel said “relief” was the dominant emotion.

“You know we’ve been waiting for a long time for this opportunity to play in front of our home crowd because obviously that was canceled in 2020 so it’s a long time to wait and to be able to move on and finish our campaign in Denmark was really very important.” , did he declare.

“Obviously with what happened in the game against Finland and then the performance we had against Belgium, but the anticlimax of not winning the game was hard to bear. So for all of us , being able to leave Parken Stadium with a feeling of victory and being able to share that with the fans was really important. ”

Two weeks ago, when Eriksen was lying on the pitch at Parken Stadium, it was not clear that this story would have a happy ending.

“It was crazy,” Schmeichel said. “So many emotions, an absolute roller coaster – and to be sitting here today, to have gone through [to the round of 16] and for Christian, being well is a very, very positive outcome. “

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