The Netherlands team and staff were shocked by the collapse of Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen on Saturday, but were ready to take on Ukraine in their Euro 2020 opener on Sunday, Dutch coach Frank de Boer said shortly before the tie.
"Everybody was shocked", De Boer told Dutch TV. "These are images nobody ever wants to see. And it brings back terrible memories," De Boer said, referring to his own players Daley Blind and Matthijs de Ligt.
Eriksen was rushed to hospital on Saturday after collapsing during the match against Finland and being given CPR on the pitch. He was taken to hospital where his condition is now described as stable.
Ajax Amsterdam defender Blind had heart surgery in late 2019, after he suddenly fell to the ground in a Champions League match against Valencia.
De Ligt was an Ajax team mate of Abdelhak Nouri, the midfielder who collapsed during a pre-season friendly in 2017 and has never fully recovered.
De Boer, who was Eriksen's coach at Ajax from 2010 to 2013, said he had cancelled a team meeting on Saturday evening to prepare for the match against Ukraine to give players time to deal with their emotions.
"But luckily, we are hearing messages Eriksen is improving," he said. "And we are professionals, so we have to move on. I feel confident we can do that."
Blind nearly decided not to play after Eriksen collapse
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 after the game.
"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."
"Yesterday had a huge impact on me, never mind the fact that I know Christian well as a friend," Blind said of the drama in Copenhagen where Eriksen collapsed on the pitch during Denmark’s match against Finland after suffering a heart attack.
“The situation for him is terrible. Of course, I have also experienced a few things in that area, so that I had to overcome a mental hurdle to play today," added the 31-year-old.
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."
(With inputs from AFP)
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