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Euro 2020. Ericsson’s teammates in ‘will play for Christian’


Christian Eriksson has told his Denmark teammates to look forward to their European Championship game against Belgium on Thursday

Copenhagen – Christian Eriksson had a simple message for his Denmark teammates when he spoke to them from the hospital for the first time since their collapse at the European Championship.

“He told us to look forward, and to look forward to the game on Thursday,” Pierre-mile Hojberg said on Monday. “It meant a lot. … It gave me a form of energy.”

Hjberg was one of three Danish players – along with goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and forward Martin Braithwaite – to speak to the media about Ericsson’s downfall.

Ericsson, 29, suffered a cardiac arrest during Saturday’s match against Finland and had to be resuscitated with a defibrillator. The Inter Milan midfielder remained in a Copenhagen hospital in stable condition on Monday.

Ericsson spoke to his teammates via video link on Sunday, which all three of his teammates said was a significant boost as they try to re-focus on the Euro 2020 tournament. Denmark will play Belgium in Group B on Thursday after losing 1-0 to Finland.

“It makes you feel like it’s okay to move on,” Hodgeberg said. “We really want to play Thursday, play for Christian and play for everyone who has supported us.”

The team trained on Monday after the players were given Sunday’s leave to process the incident.

The Danish players have been widely praised for forming a circle around Ericsson to protect him from public view as medical staff gave him CPR. Denmark’s team doctor said on Sunday that Ericsson was “gone” before being revived.

Braithwaite can be seen praying as he stood in circles around Ericsson and was in tears on Monday when asked about the moment.

“I only tried to do what I could to help him at the time,” Braithwaite said.

Hojberg described the initial confusion when he first saw Ericsson on the ground.

“I turned and saw Christian lying there. I could see the whites of his eyes,” said Hojberg. “Then I saw more and more medical staff running towards Christian and I saw Simon (Kajer) waving his arms.”

Schmeichel, a close friend of Ericsson and his family, said he was able to meet the midfielder even in the hospital.

“It helped me a lot,” the goalkeeper said. “He was lying there to see that it was okay. … We talked about everything and nothing. He’s doing well, that’s the most important thing.”

Ericsson’s agent, Martin Schutsch, was quoted by the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport as saying that the player has been struck by the flood of support and messages from around the world. Shoots said he also spoke to Ericsson on Sunday.

“He was joking, he was in a good mood,” Shoots was quoted as saying. We all want to understand what happened to him, he wants the same. The doctors are doing a thorough examination. … Christians will not give up. He and his family would really like to thank everyone.”

Schmeichel praised the team’s medical staff as “heroes” for bringing Ericsson back from heart failure.

“We are professional football players who dedicate their lives to playing football. These people dedicate their lives to saving lives,” Schmeichel said. “To be able to keep my head calm and bring it back under such circumstances, it’s a miracle.”

Ericsson’s collapse has spoiled the entire mood surrounding Euro 2020 in Denmark, which is hosting major tournament games for the first time. But Braithwaite said Ericsson’s continued recovery means he is looking forward to a pleasant atmosphere at the Parken Stadium when the team plays Belgium.

“I have no doubt that we will see something special in Parken on Thursday,” Braithwaite said. “Not just from the players but from the whole crowd. That’s something I’ve been looking forward to. And I’m sure I’ll use that as an inspiration to go out and play for Christian.”

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More AP Soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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