Referee Anthony Taylor recounts his experience when Christian Eriksen suffered cardiac arrest under his watch

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It is over 7 weeks ago since Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during Euro 2020 opening match between Denmark and Finland. The center referee of the game, Referee Anthony Taylor has revealed that his eyes were on the Danish midfielder when he collapsed on the pitch during the game.

The 42-year-old English referee is regarded as one of the heroes in the game due to how he managed the situation. While recounting his experience, he noted how he saw when the ball bounced on the knee of the midfielder and noticed how quickly the facial expression of the footballer changed before the Inter Milan star fell on the pitch.

According to the referee, immediately Christian Eriksen fell under such circumstance, he knew that the Denmark international was facing a serious health challenge.

Recall that when Eriksen collapsed, the first person that got to him was Denmark’s captain, Simon Kjær who gave him CPR that kept him alive until the medics in the stadium got to where the footballer was.

Denmark captain Simon Kjær attending to Christian Eriksen.

When the medics arrived, they continued to give him CPR to sustained his breathing before he was rushed to the hospital for further treatment.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Referee Anthony Taylor described Denmark’s captain and the medical team at the stadium as the heroes who saved the life of the footballer.

“I could tell straight away. Christian was on his own”, Referee Anthony Taylor said. “The only thing that was close to him was a bouncing ball that hit his knee. I was looking directly at him when he fell over. I could see his face as he fell. I knew straight away something was wrong because of how his face looked and how he fell to the floor. That is what concerned me the most…

“My main priority is the safety of the players. That means if a player is injured or not well, they need medical help. That is all I did. I called a doctor onto the field. Nothing else hit me until the following day when I was traveling back to [the match officials’ base in] Istanbul. The real heroes on that night were the Danish captain and the medics who performed the initial CPR and defibrillation.”

Referee Anthony Taylor managing things after Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest.
Referee Anthony Taylor managing things after Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest.

After the incident, the center referee seemed to have lost control of the game as the incident overshadowed the ongoing game that the game had to be delayed for hours.

The European football governing body, UEFA, representatives from both teams, and referee Anthony Taylor had to embark on series of meetings to come up with the next thing to do.

After a series of back and forth, a consensus was reached that the match should continue from where it stopped hours after the tension at the stadium had subsided.

Christian Eriksen being taken off the stadium after he suffered a cardiac arrest.
Christian Eriksen being taken off the stadium after he suffered a cardiac arrest.

When asked whether he was on autopilot at the height of the incident, Referee Anthony Taylor said: “At the moment it happens the sole focus is to ensure Christian got the treatment he needed. He did because of the quick reaction of not only his captain but also the medics. That is the bottom line. The football, at that point, was irrelevant. At the end of the day, we are dealing with people.

“In the immediate aftermath of getting the teams on to Christian, everybody is still coming to me as the match referee for what do we do next. Is the game continuing? Is it not? What do we do? How long do we wait? That is my job in conjunction with the Uefa delegate. Even after that initial unfortunate situation, I still had plenty to do in terms of managing the emotions of everybody there.

“The fundamental thing was that Christian was OK and got the help he needed. Then we had to make sure both sets of players were OK and I had to make sure the rest of my team were OK.”

Referee Anthony Taylor advocates for defibrillator

Referee Anthony Taylor advocates for defibrillator
File photo of Eriksen in action for Denmark.

After the medics were able to revive Christian Eriksen, he had to undergo a surgical procedure through which a defibrillator, a device that prevents heart failure, was planted in him.

Though that helped to give him a normal life, he might not be able to play for Inter Milan until the device is removed because it is against the laws of the Italian league for a footballer to play with a device installed in him.

On the part of Referee Anthony Taylor who officiates in both international games and Premier League games, the referee believes that the defibrillator is important for athletes and should be made more available for them.

“It doesn’t matter how fit, or young, or old we think we are, a sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any point in time, so that, to me, highlights the importance of having these defib units available everywhere possible and for people to understand why we need them and how to use them”, the referee said.

Christian Eriksen is currently in Denmark waiting for the go-ahead to start playing. The latest reports concerning him claimed that it might take him over 6 months before he could return to football again.