Amsterdam (AFP) – Netherlands coach Frank de Boer admitted the eve of his side’s Euro 2020 opener against Ukraine in Amsterdam had been “a roller-coaster night” after he watched his former player Christian Eriksen suffer a cardiac arrest playing for Denmark against Finland.
“I had to leave the room,” said De Boer, who coached Eriksen at Ajax earlier in the midfielder’s career.
“I worked for five years with Christian and there are players in my team who still play with him or had a good bond with him when he played for Ajax.
“it was a roller-coaster night last night. We had planned to have a tactical meeting but we had to reschedule it for this morning because I didn’t want to speak about football.”
The Netherlands, with several players who either played with Eriksen in Amsterdam or play with him now, overcame their emotions to beat Ukraine 3-2 on Sunday in Group C with a late winner from Denzel Dumfries.
Supporters in the Johan Cruyff Arena displayed banners with messages of support for Eriksen, with one reading “Stay strong Eriksen” in English.
During the game, defender Daley Blind was in tears as he was substituted in the second half.
Blind starred in the same Ajax team as Eriksen and in December 2019 underwent heart surgery of his own after being diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.
“Daley was quite emotional because he had some problems with his own heart,” De Boer said.
“Even now Christian is one of his best friends and it is normal that there were lots of emotions so it was definitely not easy for us.”
The Danish Football Union said on Sunday that Eriksen remained in hospital but was in a “stable” condition after collapsing in his team’s game against Finland and receiving CPR on the field.
“I was devastated. I was watching the game when it happened and there was complete silence for 10 minutes,” said Netherlands defender Stefan de Vrij, who plays with Eriksen at Inter Milan.
“Fortunately he is doing ok and the news is positive. You are of course thinking about it. You wake up with it on your mind and you think about it but then you have to focus on the game and once the referee starts the game you focus on that and try to do to your best.”
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