Thomas Delaney has revealed the Denmark squad has been strengthened in the wake of team-mate Christian Eriksen’s collapse during their opening Euro 2020 match.
The 29-year-old Inter Milan midfielder had to be resuscitated on the pitch at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen after slumping to the ground during the first half of his side’s 1-0 Group B defeat by Finland on Saturday evening.
Eriksen regained consciousness before being taken to hospital, where medics continue to work to identify what caused his cardiac arrest, while his team-mates prepare for Thursday’s fixture against Belgium at the same venue still processing what happened at the weekend.
Midfielder Delaney told a press conference: “It’s hard. It’s a situation none of us have ever imagined could happen, and that’s how it felt on the pitch. It felt surreal.
“It was a really good setting for all of us to be together to talk about it together. I’ve experienced a lot in this squad for the past few days.
“Everyone had the opportunity to be honest about their feelings and it’s been a good thing.
“It’s nice that we all know each other and everyone can just be themselves. It’s a terrible situation, but thankfully it’s a nice place to be right now.”
Striker Yussuf Poulsen admitted the players had got to know each other better as a result of what they had been through together.
Poulsen said: “This is going to make us stronger as a team. We’ve been able to show a lot of love, a lot of honesty and everyone felt like they were part of this big family.
“We all knew that we had this family. We have a great team spirit and we stand together, but experiencing something like that together makes you even stronger.
“It’s nice that people can just show their feelings and be 100 per cent honest about what happened and how they feel about it. It’s not everyone in your life you can share stuff like that with.
“A lot of players have got to know each other much better through this.”
Skipper Simon Kjaer was quick to realise Eriksen was in trouble and to summon medical help, and he and the remaining members of the team formed a protective shield around the stricken former Tottenham star as he was treated.
Many were visibly moved, while others prayed with team doctor Morten Boesen, who later revealed he “was gone”.
Delaney said: “Some things need to be done very, very fast and Simon Kjaer arrived very fast and we called for help.
“Unfortunately, I’ve done this before. We decided to make this shield to protect him. It was not only to protect Christian and the medical staff, but also Christian’s friends and family.
“It was not a fun situation to be in, but it was a way we could help Christian.”
The football world was stunned as events unfolded in front of millions on television, and Eriksen thanked those who had sent messages of support in an Instagram post on Tuesday in which he said he was “fine – under the circumstances”.
Delaney, Poulsen and their team-mates chose to complete the Finland game later on Saturday evening having been offered the option to return the following day, some of them still clearly affected by what they had witnessed, and Jesper Moller, chairman of the Danish Football Association the DBU, has called for a change to UEFA’s regulations as a result.
He said in a statement on the DBU’s official website: “That is a situation players and coaches should not be put in. It is not and should not be their decision.
“It was a wrong decision and completely untenable that the players had to be on the field so soon after the horrible experience.
“We now want an evaluation of the entire decision-making process so that we can get all the relevant facts and information on the table.
“We must look at a change in the rules to ensure that we are never in the same situation again. We are ready to present a resolution to UEFA.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe