Kasper Hjulmand is, first and foremost, thankful for the health and hopeful recovery of Christian Eriksen following the Danish star’s mid-game medical emergency on Saturday, but Denmark head coach has now revealed that he regrets his team’s decision to continue and complete the game less than two hours later.
“No, we should not have played,” Hjulmand said on Sunday, a day later. “Players have different reactions to shocks and trauma, but we’ll try to get back to normal as much as possible.”
As for the mental state of his players going forward, with two more games still to play in the group stage, Hjulmand knows a difficult challenge still lies ahead.
“I get the feelings from the players that maybe the time is too short to try to play football again, but maybe we can use it as a force to get together and try to go out and do our best in the next match.”
Speaking after the game on Saturday, the only topic which seemed to matter was the fact that Christian Eriksen, a teammate, friend, partner and father to so many, was stable and aware in the hospital, which Hjulmand declared, “the most important thing in life.”
As for the decision to resume the game upon receiving word of the status of Christian Eriksen, Hjulmand, in tears as he spoke, revealed that some of his players were “completely done … emotionally done and emotionally exhausted” before and after retaking the field in Copenhagen — quotes from the BBC:
“First of all, if it gets emotional, it’s been a tough night. We are all reminded of what the most important thing in life is — to have valuable relationships, people we’re close to, our family and our friends.
“We have a group of players that I cannot praise enough. I couldn’t be prouder of those people who took such good care of each other. He is one of my very dear friends, the way the players talked in the dressing room to decide to not do anything before we knew Christian was conscious and OK.
“We had two options: to play the game [today] or tomorrow at 12 pm, and everyone agreed to play today. You can’t play a game with such feelings. We tried to win. It was incredible they managed to go out and try to play the second half.
“Honestly, there were players out there that were completely done. Emotionally done and emotionally exhausted.”
Up next for Denmark is a Group B clash with Belgium, the no. 1-ranked side in the world, on Thursday (12 pm ET).