The medical team that saved the life of Denmark player Christian Eriksen at UEFA EURO 2020, and Danish national team captain Simon Kjær, are the recipients of the 2021 UEFA President’s Award.
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The accolade is a mark of homage for their vital contributions in coming to Eriksen’s aid when the 29-year-old Inter Milan midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field during Denmark’s UEFA EURO 2020 group stage match against Finland at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on 12 June.
Thanks to the medical team’s rapid response and expert emergency treatment, Eriksen was resuscitated on the pitch, and is now happily on the road to recovery. Simon Kjær shares the honour for his reaction in immediately helping Eriksen, as well as for the exceptional leadership qualities he displayed.
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin described the recipients of the award – which recognises outstanding achievements, professional excellence and exemplary personal qualities – as "the true heroes of EURO 2020. It is indeed a great honour for me to present them with the UEFA President's Award.
"This year, the President’s Award transcends football," he 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," he added.
"I would also like to send my very best wishes to Christian Eriksen and his family as he continues his recovery."
Recipients of the 2021 UEFA President’s Award:
On-site medical team
Mogens Kreutzfeldt (chief medical officer)
Frederik Flensted (stadium medical manager)
Anders Boesen (pitchside emergency doctor)
Peder Ersgaard (paramedic)
UEFA Venue Medical Officers
Danish national medical team
Morten Skjoldager (physio accompanying the team doctor)
Morten Boesen (team doctor)
Simon Kjær (Denmark national team captain)
A message from Christian Eriksen
"I would like to thank Morten [Skjoldager], Morten [Boesen] and the medical team who helped in Parken on 12 June. You did a fantastic job and saved my life.
"Also a big thanks to my friend and captain Simon and my teammates in the Danish team for your support, both on 12 June 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."
This year’s UEFA President's Award serves as a fitting tribute to the medical staff who were on site at the EURO match in Copenhagen, both for their expertise and their application of the specialist training that had prepared them for such an incident.
The medical team responded swiftly, and Eriksen was resuscitated through the deployment of the Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) technique and a defibrillator before he was stretchered off and taken to hospital.
"We rushed to the field to help [Christian] and to do our job," said Mogens Kreutzfeldt, chief medical officer for UEFA EURO 2020 in Copenhagen. "We did what we should, what we were taught, what we were trained to do."
"Everybody knew their role, everybody knew what to do. We were not emotional at the scene. Afterwards, we were, of course, like everybody. We’re very happy and proud of the outcome."
"When Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field in Copenhagen," said Aleksander Čeferin. "I, along with millions of other football fans, was deeply shocked and concerned. To everyone’s great joy and relief, Christian’s life was eventually saved thanks to the remarkable professionalism of the medical team."
"I have the utmost admiration for the doctors and medical staff for their outstanding reaction and calmness," Mr Čeferin added. "Attributes which were crucial in Christian’s resuscitation."
The award also recognises Simon Kjær’s admirable response to the situation. The 32-year-old AC Milan defender was one of the first people to reach Eriksen when he collapsed.
He put Eriksen in the recovery position, started the initial CPR procedure, led the Danish players in forming a protective ring around their teammate while he was being given urgent medical attention, and comforted Eriksen's partner.
"I remain grateful for the exemplary leadership qualities and immense courage that Denmark’s captain, Simon Kjær, displayed in this most critical of situations," said Aleksander Čeferin.
Reacting as a team
Kjær emphasised the Danish team’s unity and solidarity in responding to the situation.
"It's something that will stay with us for the rest of our lives," he said. "The team reacted as a unit…as a team, we made the maximum effort to stick together and try to get through that situation and be as helpful as possible."
"I try to lead the team on and off the pitch, in every aspect of life, as footballers, when we’re together," he added. "I think it's one of the biggest privileges I have in my career."
"I’ve known Christian [Eriksen] for many years," Kjær added. "[He] has a great family, he has a lot of friends, a lot of teammates that want the best for him. As long as he’s happy and his family is good, I’m happy."Previous UEFA President's Award winners