Denmark “Team of the Year” – Thanks for the solidarity!


The Danish national soccer team impressively demonstrated what a real team is all about at the EM in the summer. In the worst moment imaginable – when their teammate Christian Eriksen was fighting for his life on the pitch after a cardiac arrest – the players showed what it means to really be there for one another.

With their unbelievable team spirit, the players and all members of the coaching and support staff impressed the whole world: both human and athletic. By reaching the semi-finals, the “Landsholdet” celebrated the second-best result, which a Danish national team has ever achieved in a big final after the European title in Sweden in 1992.

We bow to exceptional athletes and people: Tillykke med det! Congratulations on the SPORT BILD Award 2021 as “Team of the Year”!



Danish trainer Kasper Hjulmand (left) and captain Simon Kjaer with the SPORT BILD Award 2021Photo: Sport Bild

Interview with coach Hjulmand and captain Kjaer

June 12th, 2021 changed her life forever. In the first European Championship group game of the Danish national team against Finland in Copenhagen, Christian Eriksen collapsed in the 43rd minute on the sidelines without outside interference. The midfield star suffered cardiac arrest. “He was already gone,” said team doctor Morten Boesen later. Eriksen was reanimated for around 15 minutes until he was conscious again.

The way his teammates reacted at that moment touched the whole world. The team positioned themselves in front of Eriksen so that no one could see how he was fighting for his life. The focus: Captain Simon Kjær and coach Kasper Hjulmand.

SPORT BILD: Mr Hjulmand, Mr Kjær, we are honored to be able to present you with the SPORT BILD award for “Team of the Year” on behalf of the entire Danish national team. What does this award mean to you?

Kasper Hjulmand (49): I am very proud of this award. It’s a big honor because it’s a team honor. I couldn’t single out a single player or member of that staff because everyone did a fantastic job. For me, this team is a role model for how people should treat one another.

What do you mean exactly?

Hjulmand: Nowadays there are many things in the world in which the team spirit is forgotten, but egoism reigns. In football, too, people often think too selfishly. Denmark showed in an extreme situation at the European Championships when football is strongest. We saw a friend lying on the floor who was fighting for his life. It was all about compassion, solidarity, humanity. We showed these values ​​to the world and thus saw the best of football.


The current issue of SPORT BILD

The current issue of SPORT BILDPhoto: SportBild

Mr Kjær, just eight seconds after Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch, you had sprinted halfway across the pitch and stood by his side. How did you experience the moments?

Kjær (32): In the first moment you don’t realize everything. You act intuitively when you see your friend break down. It wasn’t normal, something was wrong. Then the adrenaline rushes into you. You don’t have time to think about your actions and your reaction. Your instinct does it.

Everyone was impressed by the way you looked after Eriksen and the whole team. How happy are you to have a captain like Simon Kjær by your side, Mr Hjulmand?

Hjulmand (looks at Kjær): I’ll be honest: even though I didn’t know Simon that well when I took office, I immediately felt the great personality this player was built with. The way Simon reacted in the situation was extraordinary. That was one of many moments when you could see your character.


EM 2021: Christian Eriksen is on the ground.  His teammates rush to help (left Simon Kjaer)

EM 2021: Christian Eriksen is on the ground. His teammates rush to help (left Simon Kjaer)Photo: Getty Images

What moments are you still thinking of?

Hjulmand: When we continued to play against Finland after the interruption, which we shouldn’t have done – but which we were urged to do – Simon continued to play for the time being. Until he showed me in the 63rd minute that he could no longer. That was a sign of his great strength.

Kjær: At that moment I was at a point where I couldn’t give anymore. My battery was empty. A team-mate then took over my place: my friend Jannik Vestergaard. We all had our problems that evening, but Jannik was there and showed our character as a team: We Danes stand together!

Mr Kjær, has there been a day since June 12 that you did not think about this incident?

Kjær: There is a day, maybe two, when I don’t think about it. No longer. It has become part of us. The time after the incident was difficult for us as a team. You didn’t know what to expect when we got back into the stadium and went on the pitch. For me, after the European Championship, the game against Scotland (2-0 in the World Cup qualification on September 1st; editor) was the hardest mentally. It had been some time since the European Championships. Now we came back to Parken Stadium under normal circumstances, but then the heavy memories came back.

How did that feel?

Kjær: I had to take it step by step. First when warming up, then when running in, then with the anthem – it all shocked me a bit personally. But when the game was on, it was similar to what we saw against Belgium and Russia at the European Championships. In this stadium you will feel safe and secure like nowhere else in the world.

The second European Championship game against Belgium was interrupted in the 10th minute. Both teams and everyone in the audience applauded Eriksen. How difficult was it to prepare the team for this game, Mr Hjulmand?

Hjulmand: The day before the Belgium game, some players took the bus to the stadium because after the incident with Christian they didn’t want to return to the Parken Stadium on the matchday. What we then experienced on match day was incredible. When we left the hotel in Helsingør there were people everywhere, thousands in red and white – all the way to the motorway. Thanks to the support of the fans, we were able to play freely. I am also proud of the way the Danish population has grown together. Together with the fans, we survived what happened. It was like healing for all of us – and we did this healing together.

Your team doctor Morten Boesen, who treated Eriksen on the pitch, said: “In a way, the incident made the team even stronger.” Do you agree?

Hjulmand: In some respects this may be the case, but we also have to be careful – the whole structure is still fragile. In all honesty, when we drove to the stadium against Belgium I had no idea how we would get through this game. Neither do I myself. I only had one thought: to help my players as humanly as possible so that they can keep their emotions under control. There are difficult situations in every game, but nothing compares to what we have experienced. And if you survive something like that, any opponent can come and we’ll do our best.

They lost the first two European Championship games against Finland (0: 1) and Belgium (1: 2), followed by three wins against Russia (4: 1), Wales (4: 0) and the Czech Republic (2: 1). It was only in the semifinals that you were stopped at Wembley Stadium – by the referee. In extra time against England there was a penalty after a foul on Raheem Sterling that no neutral fan would have given. Are you still mad about it today?

Hjulmand: I still am, yes!

Kjær: I feel the same. This penalty kick will haunt us all our lives and will probably never let go. The stadium with 70,000 English fans was certainly not a neutral place. I hope that the VAR (video referee; d. Ed.) Will also be used in such scenes in the future and that we will learn from it. In such an important game, mistakes with these grave consequences shouldn’t happen.

So you missed the European Championship final against Italy. What are your goals for the World Cup next year?

Kjær: We will learn from this game. At the 2018 World Cup we were in the round of 16, at the EM now in the semi-finals. We want the next step!

Can you become world champion?

Kjær: When Kasper took over the national team in 2020, one of his first announcements was: “I came to win something with you!” It shows how he leads the team. And everyone here is on Kasper’s line and wants to win something. We have an excellent team and we all aim to win something – also at the World Cup. If we continue to push ourselves as we have before and if we improve in the clubs, our level will continue to rise. This is our way.

Do you have any hope of being able to play with Christian Eriksen again, or is that not realistic?

Kjær: I’ve said it hundreds of times and will say it hundreds more times: the only thing that matters is that Christian is okay. Everything else is not decisive for me.

Hjulmand: Simon said that correctly – the most important thing is that Christian is there. We are all incredibly happy about that. We’ll see what happens. It would of course be a dream for Christian to return. If he wants to do something different, it would be great for us too. The only thing that matters is what he means, what is best for him and his family. I will support every decision he and his family make. We are just happy that he is still with us, that we can call, see and meet him.

The laudation for the Danish team:

Humanly and athletically outstanding!

The Danish national soccer team impressively demonstrated what a real team is all about at the EM in the summer. In the worst moment imaginable – when their teammate Christian Eriksen was fighting for his life on the pitch after a cardiac arrest – the players showed what it means to really be there for one another.

With their unbelievable team spirit, the players and all members of the coaching and support staff impressed the whole world: both human and athletic. By reaching the semi-finals, the “Landsholdet” celebrated the second-best result, which has ever been achieved by a Danish national team in a big final after the European title in Sweden in 1992.

We bow to exceptional athletes and people: Tillykke med det! Congratulations on the SPORT BILD Award 2021 as “Team of the Year”!

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