Denmark captain Simon Kjaer and the medical staff who helped save Christian Eriksen’s life at Euro 2020 are to receive the 2021 UEFA President’s Award.
Eriksen collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark’s opening match of the European Championship against Finland earlier this summer, but the quick reactions of Kjaer, and then the medics, managed to resuscitate him on the pitch.
Kjaer has been honoured for his reaction and “exceptional leadership qualities”, as not only did he put Eriksen in the recovery position and start CPR, he used his team-mates as a shield to keep Eriksen from the view of the media and then comforted the Inter Milan player’s partner.
The AC Milan defender played down his heroic role, however, insisting he just did what was necessary at the time.
“I try to lead the team on and off the pitch, in every aspect of life, as footballers, when we’re together,” the 32-year-old said. “I think it’s one of the biggest privileges I have in my career.
“I’ve known Christian for many years. He has a great family, he has a lot of friends, a lot of team-mates that want the best for him. As long as he’s happy and his family is good, I’m happy.”
Former Tottenham midfielder Eriksen, who joined Inter in January 2020, has yet to return to action – and it remains unclear whether he will play football again.
The 29-year-old thanked all involved in helping to save his life, saying: “I would like to thank Morten (Skjoldager), Morten (Boesen) and the medical team who helped in Parken on June 12. You did a fantastic job and saved my life.
“Also a big thanks to my friend and captain Simon and my team-mates in the Danish team for your support, both on June 12 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.”
The on-site medics at the Parken Stadium that day – Mogens Kreutzfeldt (chief medical officer), Frederik Flensted (stadium medical manager), Anders Boesen (pitchside emergency doctor) and Peder Ersgaard (paramedic) – have all also been honoured, along with Denmark’s medical team, Morten Skjoldager (physio accompanying the team doctor) and Morten Boesen (team doctor), and UEFA venue medical officers Jens Kleinefeld and Valentin Velikov.
“This year, the President’s Award transcends football,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said.
“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.”