Denmark's team doctor said Sunday that Christian Eriksen's heart stopped and that "he was gone" before being resuscitated with a defibrillator at the European Championship.
Eriksen collapsed during Denmark's opening Euro 2020 group game against Finland on Saturday and was given lengthy medical treatment before regaining consciousness, and being taken to hospital.
"He was gone. And we did cardiac resuscitation. And it was cardiac arrest," said team doctor Morten Boesen, who led the work in giving Eriksen treatment on the field. "How close were we? I don't know. We got him back after one defib. That's quite fast."
Boesen said he quickly realized there wasn’t a second to lose as the player lay unconscious, his pulse slipping away.
“He was breathing, and I could feel his pulse. But suddenly that changed,” Boesen said on Saturday. “And as everyone saw, we started giving him CPR.”
The next 10 minutes were among the scariest to ever unfold during a match at football's European Championship. Several medics worked frenetically to give Eriksen chest compressions while his teammates choked away tears and formed a circle around the midfielder to shield the scene from public view.
“We managed to get Christian back,” Boesen said. “And he spoke to me before he was taken to the hospital.”
Eriksen in a stable condition on Sunday
On Sunday, Eriksen was in a stable condition at a Copenhagen hospital and had spoken to teammates via video link, team officials said.
The Danish football federation says Christian Eriksen has ”sent his greetings to his teammates” and continues to be examined in a hospital following his collapse on the pitch during his country's Euro 2020 opening match.
The federation says players and staff have received crisis assistance ”and will continue to be there for each other after yesterday’s incident.”
Many supporters, players and others in the football world have sent goodwill messages since the player went down shortly before half-time in the match against Finland in Copenhagen.
Eriksen concerned for his teammates wellbeing
Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said when he spoke to Eriksen, the Inter Milan midfielder was more concerned about his teammates' well being than his own.
"He said 'I don't remember much but I'm more concerned about you guys. How are you doing?'" Hjulmand said. "That's typical Christian. … It was good to see him smile."
Eriksen fell face-forward to the ground late in the first half and his teammates formed a protective circle around him while the medics gave him treatment.
The game was suspended for about 90 minutes before resuming. Finland won 1-0 after scoring in the second half.
Denmark canceled a planned training session on Sunday but Hjulmand said they would try to go back to their normal routines on Monday. He insisted the players are determined to finish the tournament, with Denmark playing Belgium next in Group B on Thursday.
"(Eriksen) would like for us to play," Hjulmand said. "We are trying to get back to some normality tomorrow. That is completely in line with what the psychologists are saying, and the way I want to try to lead this group forward."
Decision to restart Denmark-Finland game criticised
The decision to restart the game on Saturday has been heavily criticized by many in Denmark, including former players Peter Schmeichel and Michael Laudrup.
UEFA gave Denmark the option to resume the game Sunday at noon but the players opted to finish it Saturday evening instead. A later date was not possible because Finland plays its second group game on Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Hjulmand said he remained proud of his players for finishing the game, but that he now had second thoughts about not insisting it should have been called off.
"In hindsight, I wonder if I could have done something differently," Hjulmand said. "Because when I look back, I honestly do not think we should have been back on the field. I am so proud that the players were able to mobilize and give it a try. It was a huge effort. But I have a guilty conscience that we were back out there."
One of Denmark's leading sports doctors and cardiologist said "you wouldn't expect a cardiac arrest in such an athlete that had been screened, but no screening is perfect."
"New things can happen, as an example, like a virus infection or something else that could affect the heart muscle," said Hanne Rasmusen, sports cardiologist, and chief physician at the cardiac department at Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital in the Danish capital.
Rasmusen was not involved in Christian Eriksen's treatment.
Eriksen is one of Denmark’s biggest stars and the incident brought an instant sense of shock to the Parken Stadium, where about 15,000 fans fell into hushed silence. Some supporters could be seen crying and hugging in the stands.
International broadcasters criticised for lingering on scene
International broadcasters came in for widespread criticism for lingering too long on the scene before cutting away. Some apologised, explaining that they did not have their own cameras on the scene and were using a worldwide feed, but viewers were upset that decisions weren't taken earlier to switch coverage to the studio.
As the fans in the stadium were waiting for updates, Finland supporters started chanting “Christian! Christian,” which was then answered by the Danish fans shouting “Eriksen! Eriksen!”
A huge roar then went up from all supporters when the stadium announcer said Eriksen was “stable and awake”. Later, the players came back out onto the pitch to a huge ovation as they started warming up for a second time.
The incident brought back memories of other footballers who have collapsed on the pitch, including Marc-Vivien Foe and Fabrice Muamba.
Foe died while playing for Cameroon during the 2003 Confederations Cup in France, while Muamba needed CPR in 2012 when he collapsed in a match between Bolton and Tottenham at White Hart Lane in north London.
Muamba, who fully recovered, wrote ”Please God” on Twitter as Eriksen was taken to the hospital.