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‘I’m only 29 years old’: what Christian Eriksen said after his life was saved

  • Doctor tells of how he dashed from stands to help footballer
  • ‘It was a lovely moment when Eriksen opened his eyes again’
Christian Eriksen is carried off after collapsing during Denmark’s Euro 2020 match with Finland in Copenhagen.
Christian Eriksen is carried off after collapsing during Denmark’s Euro 2020 match with Finland in Copenhagen. Photograph: Friedemann Vogel/Reuters
Christian Eriksen is carried off after collapsing during Denmark’s Euro 2020 match with Finland in Copenhagen. Photograph: Friedemann Vogel/Reuters

A German emergency doctor has described how he dashed from the stands to help Christian Eriksen after the Denmark midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest on Saturday.

Jens Kleinfeld said he saw the team’s medics struggle with the situation and decided he had to intervene. He also described the “lovely moment” when the player opened his eyes after regaining consciousness and told him in English: “I am here.”

Kleinfeld said he had been watching the Denmark versus Finland match from the stands in Copenhagen by chance, having earlier completed a training session with the touchline medical team that happened to include schooling in emergency first aid.

He said the training he had given was put into immediate practice when the touchline team had gone to Eriksen’s aid.

“I was in the stands on the opposite side as he collapsed. At first I didn’t think anything of it. But then I saw how the Danish team doctor was acting in quite a hectic manner. I recognised that it was no normal injury,” Kleinfeld said in an interview with the German tabloid Bild.

“The players had their heads in their hands. At which point I gave the sideline team a sign and they ran on to the pitch. They had a defibrillator with them. I then told my colleagues I was sitting with in the stands: ‘We have to go on to the pitch.’”

Kleinfeld said the sideline team had started the process of resuscitation, first with a heart massage and then preparing the defibrillator including attaching electrodes to Eriksen’s body. “Then I took control. We gave him electric shocks and continued with the heart massage,” he said. Kleinfeld described the emergency training he had given the medical team before the match as decisive in the process of reviving Eriksen. He said he believed the Danish team doctor had struggled to cope at first. “He initially failed to grasp the extent of the situation. When you start a resuscitation you need to do it as quickly as possible. But the team doctors are mainly treating many other injuries, which is why it’s more difficult for them to immediately recognise sudden cardiac death.

“That was clear to me when I saw them trying to pull his tongue out of his throat. That’s not how you save a life. A minimal overflexion of the head is completely sufficient.”

Denmark fans wearing Christian Eriksen shirts in Copenhagen before Thursday’s match against Belgium.
Denmark fans wearing Christian Eriksen shirts in Copenhagen before Thursday’s match against Belgium. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

Kleinfeld said the shocks by the defibrillator were key to bringing Eriksen back to life. He said if the defibrillator is administered within the first two minutes the chance of survival is almost 90% and with every minute lost, the probability drops by 10%.

“So speed is of the essence. It took two or three minutes for Eriksen to get the electric shock. That meant his chance of survival was very high,” he said.

Shortly after receiving the shocks, Eriksen regained consciousness. “He opened his eyes and spoke to me. I asked him, in English: ‘Are you back again?’ He said: ‘Yes, I am here’. And then he said: ‘Oh shit, I’ve only just turned 29 years old.’

“I told him that everything was now OK and he was not in danger any more. He understood everything immediately and straight away put his arm on his chest.”

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Kleinfeld said it had been a “textbook resuscitation” and the incident had been “like a normal assignment” for him. “I just blocked everything out,” he said. “It was a lovely moment when Eriksen opened his eyes again.”

Morten Boesen, the Denmark team doctor, said on Thursday Eriksen is to be fitted with a heart starter