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Danish medics and national team captain Simon Kjær receive 2021 UEFA President’s award

President Aleksander Čeferin: "They showed human life is much more important than anything."

The medical team and Denmark captain Simon Kjær, whose quick reactions and expertise saved the life of footballer Christian Eriksen at EURO 2020, formally accepted the 2021 UEFA President’s award in Istanbul on Thursday.

"I have deep respect for these gentlemen," said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, as he handed over the award ahead of the UEFA 2021/22 Champions League group stage draw. "They showed us that human life is much more important than anything. They put things into perspective for all of us."

The award, which annually recognises outstanding personal achievements in European football, highlighted the importance of teamwork and training in reviving Eriksen, who suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark’s group stage match against Finland at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on 12 June.

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
Jens Kleinefeld
Valentin Velikov

Danish national medical team
Morten Skjoldager (physio accompanying the team doctor)
Morten Boesen (team doctor)
Simon Kjær (Denmark national team captain)

UEFA President's Award - Copenhagen medical team
UEFA President's Award - Copenhagen medical team

'Teamwork really does save lives'

"It was a nice example of how teamwork really does save lives," said Morten Boesen, the Danish national team’s doctor.

As soon as the 29-year-old midfielder collapsed, the national medical team, on-site medics, UEFA’s venue medical officers and Kjær all worked together to deliver rapid emergency treatment. Thanks largely to their efforts, Eriksen is now on the road to recovery.

"We accept this award on behalf of medical teams who struggle on a daily basis with keeping [footballers] free of injuries but also stay alert and act if a rare event like this happens," added Boesen.

Doing the right thing

Simon Kjær lines up at EURO 2020 alongside his Danish teammates
Simon Kjær lines up at EURO 2020 alongside his Danish teammatesUEFA via Getty Images

Morten Skjoldager, physio on the Danish national medical team, singled out Kjær and his team for praise.

Denmark’s captain, who was unable to join Thursday’s prize-giving ceremony in person but sent a video message, immediately put Eriksen into the recovery position, started the initial Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Procedure (CPR) and led players in forming a protective ring around their stricken team-mate.

"He deserves a lot of credit for the reaction," said Skjoldager. "He and his teammates did the right thing in that situation. They reacted quickly and afterwards they called for help."

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."

Thousands volunteered for defibrillator training

The medical team received a standing ovation when accepting the award from UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin
The medical team received a standing ovation when accepting the award from UEFA president Aleksander ČeferinAFP via Getty Images

Mogens Kreutzfeld, chief of the on-site medical team at Parken Stadium, said the near tragedy had inspired thousands of Danes to volunteer for training in how to use a defibrillator.

"Eriksen's collapse showed that we can save a life with defibrillators. We are very grateful to the thousands of volunteers (in Demark) who signed up to get educated in how to use it," said Kreutzfeld.

"It’s easy to save a life. UEFA has always said, ‘one death on a football pitch is one too many,’ and the same is also true in our public life."