It is a moment that every football fan watching the event – either in the stadium or on TV – will remember for some time.
Finland captain TIM SPARV has given an insight into how both sets of players, the staff and the match officials reacted to the shock incident that saw the world of football stop…
Everyone will remember this day for the rest of their lives, it was a very extreme and emotional day in so many ways.
Everybody in the Finland camp slept very badly on Saturday night. We were all still up at 3am or 4am just trying to reflect on what had happened and trying to digest everything.
The most important thing is that Christian Eriksen’s alive.
Finland captain Tim Sparv (right) was on the pitch when Christian Eriksen (left) collapsed
The 29-year-old collapsed during Denmark’s match with Sparv’s Finland on Saturday night
I thought initially that he had been tackled or he was fouled. Five or ten seconds later you could see the players were rushing to him, trying to see if he was ok or if he was breathing. And then there was the feeling of “Oh s***, what’s going on.” You’ve seen these type of things happen before and we were just fearing the worst – fearing for the guy’s life. It was very shocking and very stressful when we became aware of what was going on.
Our first moves were just to move away and go to our bench. We were speaking with each other, trying to figure out what was going on and looking for the first signs that he was alive. It was taking such a long time, and then you could see they were doing CPR. It was a very traumatic experience for everybody. I saw there were young kids in the crowd who were leaving the stadium. I just hope everybody gets the psychological help and support they need – as this won’t be going away for some time.
It was very tough for us as well, we had players who were crying and emotional, especially when we didn’t really know what was going on. When you’re just waiting for some kind of information – you keep looking for some kind of positives.
Sparv took his Finland players away from Eriksen and admitted some team-mates were in tears
Eriksen needed immediate CPR and was stabilised shortly after the match was suspended
We were in close contact with the Denmark players – Kasper Schmeichel especially – and everybody was really understanding. I felt that we were united group of players – the football became secondary. We were trying to share the Denmark players’ pain by giving them mental help and mental support. You could see that they were really moved by everything that was happening.
The way referee Anthony Taylor handled the whole situation was very good. For me, he was a key person during this event. I felt he was a very calm character, he was very empathetic to our emotions. I felt he was fantastic, the way he dealt with all of it and the way he communicated everything. A big credit to him and his colleagues in this kind of situation. I can imagine it was tough for them as well. They were very friendly and Taylor was a fantastic guy.
When we went back to the dressing room during the break, I contacted my family. My girlfriend and my small baby were watching the game and they were very emotional. It put everything into perspective, I just felt like contacting them. Other players did the same.
Sparv praised the work of English referee Anthony Taylor – who controlled the game well
From what I understood we had the option to play the game the next day, but we just didn’t feel that was going to help anything. If it was right or wrong, I can’t say.
I felt that we had to know from the Danish players: how do they feel? What do they want to do? We just wanted to support their wishes. They were waiting to hear from Eriksen to hear that he was ok, after that we went out and played the game.
We had the opportunity to say that if nobody wanted to play, then we wouldn’t. But we were very open to what the Danish team decided and we went along with that decision. It was very emotional for every one of us and it was a psychological challenge.
Sparv called his family whilst sat in the dressing room – everything was in perspective
Both sets of players then returned to finish the game two hours after Eriksen’s collapse
We had to go from complete sadness to actually going to play the game. It was very moderate in compared to how normally a game is. We tried to mentally focus on what we were there to do. It was not easy, you could see in the players’ eyes that the football was not really on their mind during that time.
Somehow we got ourselves out there – it was nice to see the united front amongst not only us but the supporters – who were shouting Christian Eriksen’s name. I want to pay tribute to the fans in the stadium, how they put their Nordic animosity aside for this. It was an exceptional day for everybody.
We were of course happy that we won the game, but after what happened on Saturday – it was just a small issue.
When we won, the celebrations were very muted in the dressing room. There was no singing or banging, normally it would be after a win. We were just very proud of being in a major tournament for the first time ever.
Sparv claimed he looked in the players’ eyes and said football was secondary to the event
Finland won the game 1-0 – but the celebrations were muted following Eriksen’s collapse
We had training on Sunday, had our Covid tests and we headed to the airport. It’s almost like nothing happened. We have another game against Russia that we need to focus on.
I hope Denmark are getting the emotional support they need, but for us – we’re heading to Russia.
We’ve remained in contact with the Danish FA and we’re hearing he’s ok which is fantastic to hear.
This is something that we need to reflect on. There were a lot of emotions and a of feelings – it was an emotional rollercoaster.
Tim Sparv was speaking to Sportsmail’s SAM BLITZ