Belgian and Danish players halted their Euro 2020 match on Thursday to observe a minute’s applause in an emotional mark of respect for Denmark’s Christian Eriksen.
The Danish midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark’s game against Finland on Saturday before being resuscitated with CPR and a defibrillator.
Tributes were also paid to Eriksen – a giant shirt bearing his surname with the number 10 was unfurled – ahead of kick-off in Copenhagen.
The popular “You Will Never Walk Alone” football anthem was played as both teams walked out onto the pitch in what was Denmark’s first match since Eriksen’s collapse.
In a frantic opening, Denmark were already ahead — through Yussuf Poulsen’s shot after Jason Denayer’s error – before the tribute to Eriksen began. According to Opta, it was the second fastest goal in European Championship history, coming after 99 seconds.
Then, after 10 minutes had been played, the match was paused as players, coaches and officials as well as thousands of fans applauded the midfielder.
Despite the positive start for Denmark, Belgium recovered to eventually win the match 2-1 through second-half goals from Thorgan Hazard and the brilliant Kevin de Bruyne.
‘We will play for Christian’
“Today, we will enter the pitch against Belgium with Christian in our hearts and thoughts, it gives us peace in our minds, which allows us to focus on the game of football,” Denmark team captain Simon Kjaer said in a statement before kick-off.
“We will play for Christian, and as always for all Denmark, that is the greatest motivation for us all.”
As the applause echoed around the Parken Stadium, Kjær and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel embraced one another.
“Wonderfully emotive applause by fans, players, officials alike in the 10th minute of Denmark’s game v Belgium in honour of Christian Eriksen,” tweeted former England international Gary Lineker.
Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku, who is a teammate of Eriksen at Inter Milan, announced the planned tribute in a press conference on Wednesday and said he was keen to visit Eriksen in hospital.
On Wednesday, players from Finland and Russia also wore “Get well Christian!” T-shirts as they warmed up for their game, which Russia went on to win 1-0.
Eriksen remains in hospital but said earlier this week that he felt “fine.”
On Thursday, the Danish Football Union announced he is to be fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).
Elsewhere on Thursday, the Netherlands reached the last 16 of the tournament after beating Austria 2-0. Meanwhile, Ukraine beat North Macedonia 2-1.