Denmark and Belgium have stopped their Euro 2020 Group B clash for a minute’s applause as a tribute to Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen, who suffered a cardiac arrest in the Danes’ opener against Finland at the Parken Stadium.
- It was the first game Denmark played since their star midfielder collapsed
- Denmark is in danger of going out of the competition after two straight losses
- Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku praised “one of the best crowds I’ve played for”
As the stadium match clock showed minute 10 — Eriksen’s shirt number — Belgium’s Dries Mertens brought play to a halt and the players applauded as the Danish crowd unfurled a banner saying: “All of Denmark is with you Christian.”
Fans watching the match from the fan zone in central Copenhagen joined the applause.
Near both the stadium and the hospital, student Rasmus Dela, 24, organised to have red and white fabric cover the 98 windows in his student accommodation building, making it into a giant Danish flag with the words “For Christian” in the middle section.
Eriksen’s collapse shocked millions of viewers around the globe. The Finland game was suspended and when it eventually resumed, the Danes lost 1-0.
“Today, we will enter the pitch against Belgium with Christian in our hearts and thoughts,” Denmark captain Simon Kjaer said before the match in his first public statement since the incident.
“It gives us peace in our minds, which allows us to focus on the game of football. We will play for Christian, and as always for all of Denmark. That is the greatest motivation for us all.”
Kjaer, who is close friends with Eriksen and his family, was one of the first players to come to the midfielder’s aid after his collapse. He called it “a shock that will be part of me — part of all of us — forever”.
The Danish federation said doctors had determined that Eriksen needs to have an ICD — implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.
“This device is necessary after a cardiac attack due to rhythm disturbances,” the federation said in a statement.
“Christian has accepted the solution and the plan has moreover been confirmed by specialists nationally and internationally who all recommend the same treatment. We encourage everybody to give Christian and his family peace and privacy the following time.”
Brilliant De Bruyne goal prevents fairytale win for Denmark
Substitute Kevin De Bruyne set up one goal and scored the winner himself to give Belgium a 2-1 victory, in a game in which they were pushed hard by Denmark.
De Bruyne came on after half-time for his first appearance since sustaining a facial fracture in the Champions League final and squared the ball for Thorgan Hazard to equalise in the 55th minute. He then scored in the 70th with a low shot from outside the area.
The win put Belgium into the round of 16 at Euro 2020.
Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku spoke graciously of the Danish fans, thanking them for making a difficult situation more comfortable.
“It’s one of the best crowds I’ve played for in my life,” he said.