Christian Eriksen, a Danish footballer, has detailed for the first time his harrowing memories of ‘dying for three or four minutes after suffering a cardiac arrest during Denmark’s Euro 2020 match against Finland on June 12, 2021.
In his first interview since the incident, Eriksen tells Danish TV station DR1 that he wants to play in the Qatar World Cup later this year and that he has no concerns about suffering another cardiac arrest after having an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) implanted.
Eriksen has now revealed that he is looking for a new club this month and recalls the fateful day in vivid detail.
Eriksen reflected on the build-up to the match, saying, ‘I felt great, there were no indications of anything.’ I was feeling normal, so I didn’t see it coming.
‘I recall [Joakim] Maehle’s interception. I recall being hit by the ball and returning it with my shin. ‘I had a minor cramp in my calf and then blacked out.’
He goes on: ‘I’m on my back when I wake up. I feel them pressing on me. I struggled to breathe – and then I heard faint voices and doctors talking.
‘I’m thinking, this can’t be me lying here. I’m healthy. My first thought is that I broke my back. Can I move my legs? I can move my toes, little things like that.
‘I remember it all, except those minutes when I was in heaven.’
‘When I woke up from the CPR it was like waking from a dream. I was far away. I don’t remember a thing, usually you remember bits of a dream, but I don’t remember a thing from when I passed out.
‘I struggled to breathe as I came to and slowly I saw the doctors surrounding me and heard voices.
‘When our cardiologist says that I’m 30, I correct him and say ‘hey, I’m only 29′. I regained consciousness right away.’
‘I remember the atmosphere,’ he said. ‘The white linen around me to shield me from view. I look up and see the fans singing. I get carried out to the ambulance. I remember that clearly.
‘It’s not until I’m in the ambulance that I realise I had been dead.
‘In the ambulance, one of the paramedics asks our team doctor: ‘For how long was he out, three to four minutes?’ That’s when I realise I was out.’
Eriksen admits that after he realised what had happened he was ready to retire from football. ‘In the ambulance, I’m thinking: ‘Keep my boots, I won’t play again’. I tell my fiancee Sabrina the same: ‘I’m not going to play again, no way’.’
The match resumed later that day, with Denmark going on to lose 1-0 to their underdog opponents after the score had been 0-0 when Eriksen collapsed.
‘As I’m lying there, the national team calls me,’ Eriksen recalls. ‘They’re on FaceTime and want to know how I’m doing. Should they continue playing? What do I think? I tell them: ‘I’ll be OK. I’m going to get through this. For me, it’s OK if you play.
‘But they shouldn’t have played, not after that trauma. But that [the trauma] wasn’t me. I had lost those minutes. I didn’t know what had happened. I didn’t realise what they had seen.’
‘I watched all of Denmark’s matches, none of the others,’ he said. ‘As a private person, I was happy they got so far, but as a player, I wanted to be there. I felt this was just a little thing. I could walk and felt I could run. All I had was a scar and an ICD, that’s all, but that wasn’t to be.’
Eriksen says he has complete confidence in the ICD placed in his heart and his fiancee and family are supporting his decision to try and resume his career.
‘I’m forever in love with football,’ he said. ‘I can feel they [his family] support my desire to play again. If Sabrina had said: “I don’t want you to play anymore”, this would be a very different situation.
‘Of course, we have trauma from June 12, but since then we have found our bearings so that Sabrina is OK with me going to the gym for a few hours and to the practice field. She trusts that when I go, I always come back.’