Denmark centre-back Simon Kjaer has been branded a ‘hero’ for his actions after team-mate Christian Eriksen collapsed during his side’s 1-0 defeat to Finland on Saturday afternoon. The Inter Milan playmaker fell to the floor in the closing stages of the first half at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, with medics spotted attempting to resuscitate the 29-year-old as he lay motionless on the pitch.
The match was quickly suspended, with both sets of players heading down the tunnel in distress.
Eriksen then left the pitch on a stretcher and was pictured with his eyes open and his arm in the air as he was transported to hospital.
It was promptly revealed by UEFA and the Danish Football Union that he had been stabilised and was awake, with the match resuming at 7.30pm upon the request of both teams.
Finland eventually sealed a narrow 1-0 victory thanks to Joel Pohjanpalo’s second-half strike, which was their only attempt of the entire contest.
Although the medical staff will deservedly receive the plaudits for helping Eriksen to emerge from the incident, it was Kjaer’s contribution that gained the attention of many onlookers.
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The 32-year-old ran towards the midfielder upon seeing him collapse to the ground, before stabilising him on his back and clearing his airways.
Kjaer then began to resuscitate Eriksen as he waited for the medics to arrive, with his crucial intervention potentially stopping the situation from reaching a tragic conclusion.
As the medical staff went to work, the defender was seen comforting Eriksen’s partner, Sabrina Kvist Jensen, who had raced to the side of the pitch.
Kjaer was widely praised for his efforts on social media, with viewers in awe of his quick reactions and ability to deal with the situation effectively in the heat of the moment.
Piers Morgan led the tributes to the Denmark skipper, tweeting: “@simonkjaer1989 ensured Eriksen didn’t swallow his tongue when he was unconscious, gave him CPR, told the squad to form a protective shield around him, consoled Eriksen’s horrified wife & has now led his team back into the game.
“You, sir, are a hero.”
Meanwhile, Eriksen’s Inter team-mate Nicolo Barella thanked Kjaer with an Instagram story post, adding: “Beyond the colours. Well done Simon. Great captain and person.”
The incident sent shockwaves around the football world, with the BBC One team covering the match live struggling to comprehend what they had just witnessed.
Former Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas admitted: “I don’t even know what to say really. My body is shaking.
“All I can think about is Christian’s family and what they must be going through. It’s a very, very sad moment and I pray for the very best.”
The Spaniard’s fellow analyst Alex Scott fought back tears as she delivered her reaction, exclaiming: “I can’t believe what we’re witnessing.
“I think football totally goes out of the window right now. You’re thinking about his family, all the rest of the players out there witnessing it as well.
“I actually just got on my phone and messaged my mum and told her I love her. I think it’s a reminder of how quickly life can change, just like that.”