UEFA Euro 2020: Christian Eriksen on the road to recovery

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Christian Eriksen

SuperSport viewers on DStv and GOtv will no doubt be delighted to hear that Denmark and Internazionale midfielder Christian Eriksen is now well on the road to recovery following his scary collapse in his national team’s opening UEFA Euro 2020 match earlier this month.

The 29-year-old Inter Milan was resuscitated on the pitch at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on Saturday 12 June after suffering a cardiac arrest during the first half of his side’s 1-0 defeat to Finland.

Eriksen spent nearly a week in hospital in Copenhagen and was fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD, also known as a ‘heart starter’) in surgery before being discharged this past weekend.

An ICD is a small device that can treat people with dangerously abnormal heart rhythms. It sends electrical pulses to regulate these rhythms, especially those that could be dangerous and cause a cardiac arrest.

“After Christian has been through different heart examinations, it has been decided that he should have an ICD,” Denmark team doctor Moretn Boesen explained.

“This device is necessary after the cardiac attack due to rhythm disturbances. Christian has accepted the solution and the plan has moreover been confirmed by specialists nationally and internationally who all recommend the same treatment. We encourage everybody to give Christian and his family peace and privacy [in] the following time.”

The device is said to be similar to the one former Bolton Wanderers star Fabrice Mumba required after his on-field collapse during a Premier League match in 2012. He had hoped to resume his career but ended up never playing a competitive football match again. It is unclear whether Eriksen will resume his professional career – with his recovery to full health a much more important issue at this time.

“Thank you for the massive number of greetings, it has been incredible to see and feel,” said Eriksen in a statement. “The operation went well and I am doing well under the circumstances. It was great to see the guys again after the fantastic game they played [against Belgium].”

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Eriksen may well owe his life to the tragic death of Cameroon’s Marc-Vivien Foe, who suffered a cardiac arrest in the Indomitable Lions’ FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final win over Colombia in June 2003.

Foe, 28, also collapsed on the pitch but didn’t receive the necessary level of treatment to save his life and was ultimately pronounced dead after the match. His tragic passing alerted football authorities to the need to up their game in regards to giving on-pitch resuscitation.

Sanjay Sharma, a Professor of Cardiology at St George’s, University of London admitted he was shocked when he watched footage of the on-field treatment that Foe received.

“A player went down without any contact, his eyes rolled back, he had no tone in his body, so it was clear something terrible had gone wrong,” he explained in an interview several years back. “It took quite a while for the penny to drop that this was not going to get better with the magic sponge or fluid being poured on his head though.

“As cardiologists, we like resuscitation to start within a minute and a half of someone going down, and for the defibrillator to be used within three minutes. That gives us an outcome of about 70% living. Yet a good five, six minutes went by before I could see any positive action with Marc-Vivien Foe. That was perhaps because this was the first time something like this had happened in football. After all, you don’t expect a champion footballer like this to go down and die.”

Since then, massive improvements have been made according to then FIFA medical officer Jiri Dvorak: “We have done a lot of work to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest since then,” he explained. At all levels, we have an examination of players before arrival at a competition.

“We have also trained the side-line medical teams in CPR and using defibrillators. We have a plan if something happens and the equipment – including for the team physicians of all teams. The medical personnel are adequately educated.”

Viewers on DStv and GOtv can see all their favourite European stars vying for UEFA Euro 2020 glory in June and July 2021.