The medical team that saved Christian Eriksen’s life will be the recipients of the 2021 UEFA President’s Award along with Denmark captain Simon Kjaer.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin described the individuals as “the true heroes of Euro 2020” after rushing to Eriksen’s aid in Denmark’s opening group game against Finland.
Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field at Parken Stadium on June 12, but is now on the road to recovery after he was resuscitated on the pitch.
UEFA said the accolade is a “mark of homage for their vital contributions”, with Kjaer sharing the honour for his reaction in immediately helping Eriksen as well as for the “exceptional leadership qualities” he displayed.
Recipients of the 2021 UEFA President’s Award:
On-site medical team
Mogens Kreutzfeldt (chief medical officer)
Frederik Flensted (stadium medical manager)
Anders Boesen (pitchside emergency doctor)
Peder Ersgaard (paramedic)
UEFA Venue Medical Officers
Danish national medical team
Morten Skjoldager (physio accompanying the team doctor)
Morten Boesen (team doctor)
Simon Kjær (Denmark national team captain)
Eriksen, who returned to Inter for tests to determine whether his career can resume, said: “I would like to thank Morten [Skjoldager], Morten [Boesen] and the medical team who helped in Parken on 12 June. You did a fantastic job and saved my life.
A message from Christian Eriksen to the UEFA President’s Award winners: “I would like to thank Morten [Skjoldager], Morten [Boesen] and the medical team who helped in Parken on 12 June. You did a fantastic job and saved my life.” #UEFAawards pic.twitter.com/lrQPRdI3IY
— UEFA (@UEFA) August 24, 2021
“Also a big thanks to my friend and captain Simon and my teammates in the Danish team for your support, both on 12 June and afterwards.
“Thanks to all the fans who have sent messages to me and my family. It means a lot and has given us strength and support. Thank you.”
Ceferin added: “This year, the President’s Award transcends football. It serves as an important and eternal reminder of just how precious life is and puts everything in our lives into the clearest perspective.
“I would also like to send my very best wishes to Christian Eriksen and his family as he continues his recovery.”
Eriksen was resuscitated through the use of the Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) technique and a defibrillator before he was stretchered off and taken to hospital.
“We rushed to the field to help [Christian] and to do our job,” said Mogens Kreutzfeldt, chief medical officer for Euro 2020 in Copenhagen.
“We did what we should, what we were taught, what we were trained to do. Everybody knew their role, everybody knew what to do. We were not emotional at the scene. Afterwards, we were, of course, like everybody. We’re very happy and proud of the outcome.”
Kjaer put Eriksen in the recovery position, started the initial CPR procedure, and led the Danish players in forming a protective ring around their team-mate while he was being given urgent medical attention, before then comforting Eriksen’s partner.
Denmark then remarkably reached the semi-finals despite losing their opening two group games, and Kjaer said that moment in Copenhagen highlighted the team and nation’s togetherness.
“It’s something that will stay with us for the rest of our lives,” Kjaer said. “The team reacted as a unit, as a team, we made the maximum effort to stick together and try to get through that situation and be as helpful as possible.
“I try to lead the team on and off the pitch, in every aspect of life, as footballers, when we’re together. I think it’s one of the biggest privileges I have in my career.
“I’ve known Christian [Eriksen] for many years. He has a great family, he has a lot of friends, a lot of teammates that want the best for him. As long as he’s happy and his family is good, I’m happy.”
What is CPR and how did it save Eriksen’s life?
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and is a medical technique which is given to someone who goes into cardiac arrest.
That occurs when the heart encounters an electrical issue and stops pumping blood around the body and to the brain, causing the person to fall out of consciousness and stop breathing.
Medics define this as ‘clinical death’, which is the onset of biological death, although CPR can help re-start the person’s heart functions and save their life.
By administering chest compressions and rescue breaths, the CPR performer helps to pump blood and oxygen around the person’s body, taking over the role of their heart and lungs.
How do you perform CPR?
Always seek professional help by calling 999 before starting CPR.
The NHS’s advice to carry out chest compressions is as follows:
- Place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers.
- Position yourself with your shoulders above your hands.
- Using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down by 5 to 6cm (2 to 2.5 inches) on their chest.
- Keeping your hands on their chest, release the compression and allow the chest to return to its original position.
- Repeat these compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 times a minute until an ambulance arrives or you become exhausted.
The British Heart Foundation recommends that in an emergency situation it is better to try and perform CPR, even if unsure, rather than to not do anything at all.