Euro 2024: Eriksen scores opener 3 years post-cardiac arrest

Christian Eriksen scored for Denmark in their opening European Championship match against Slovenia on Sunday, three years after he suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch at the last tournament in 2021.

Eriksen, 32, opened the scoring for the Danes in the 17th minute in Stuttgart after he received a flicked pass from Jonas Wind inside the box.

For much of the contest it seemed as though Eriksen’s goal would prove decisive for Denmark, but Erik Janža’s deflected strike in the 77th minute earned Slovenia a draw.

“Well, it was nice [to score], it came at a good time,” Eriksen said.

“We had talked about scoring from a set-piece and we did and, unfortunately, the others did too, but we scored and got off to a good start.

“It was great with so many Danish fans.”

In 2021, Eriksen collapsed in the 43rd minute of the game against Finland with the score 0-0. Finland eventually won 1-0, with Eriksen named man of the match.

Danish football federation director Peter Moeller said at the time Eriksen got a heart massage while being treated on the field.

“He fell over and got help and heart massage on the field,” Moeller told Danish public broadcaster DR. “He was fortunately awake when he left stadium.”

Eriksen was an Inter Milan player at the time of his cardiac arrest. He was signed by Premier League side Brentford in 2022, before he joined Manchester United on a three-year deal later that year.

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand was full of praise for Eriksen.

“He [Eriksen] has something very special,” Hjulmand said.

“He played a fantastic game for us today and he is the rhythm of our team. We want to push him close to the goal and we see again today why, because he has some finishing and break-through skills that we need.”

Hjulmand has been criticised for relying on Eriksen, who only played sporadically for Manchester United in the past season, but he remains steadfast in his decision to include him.

“I have never had my doubts with Christian as a football player, you cannot hold down that kind of class. He is a natural player who knows the rhythm of the game – we say he’s the heart of our game. For me he’s a great player, and he showed it today,” he said.

The goal came 1,100 days after Eriksen had to be resuscitated after suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch in Denmark’s Euro 2020 game against Finland in Copenhagen.