Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said Christian Eriksen was at the forefront of his thinking in the 4-0 win against Wales in Amsterdam.
Eriksen, 29, suffered cardiac arrest in the first half of Denmark’s opening game at Euro 2020 on June 12th. He was released from the hospital on June 18 after being fitted with an implantable heart monitor.
Eriksen continues his recovery at home but remains firmly in the minds of the Danish players when they faced Wales in the round of 16 in Amsterdam. The game was played at Ajax Stadium, where Eriksen began his career in 2008 and played for the Dutch giant until 2013 before moving to Tottenham Hotspur.
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After winning the Johan Cruyff Arena, Hjulmand said: “Cruyff is one of my greatest inspirations and knowing that this was one of Christian’s first homes and that he played one of his first games here when he was 16 … he’s with us, and I would have loved it if he had been here. “
Wales honored Eriksen by presenting Denmark captain Simon Kjaer with a framed shirt before kick-off. The Welsh jersey read “CHRISTIAN” on top and Brysia Wella below from Eriksen’s # 10, which means that in Welsh there will be a speedy recovery.
Hjulmand was delighted with Denmark’s performance, with Kasper Dolberg scoring two goals alongside goals from Joakim Mæhle and Martin Braithwaite. As he assessed their win, he said “it’s hard to believe this is the reality” and reflected on their journey as they now prepare for the quarter-finals.
“When Christian collapsed, everything changed. We were put in a different situation – I am grateful for the support everyone has shown because that is what we needed at that moment. We needed the love and support and that gave us wings – I admire the boys, they are warriors. “
Denmark had to make two changes for the game because Yussuf Poulsen was injured and Daniel Wass was sick. Dolberg replaced Poulsen in the front and scored twice.
“I think we have a star striker in Kasper,” said Hjulmand. “I watched him as a kid and he has scored 16 goals for Ajax this season. He had some problematic periods with injuries and the coronavirus but he recovered.”
“He couldn’t play much at the beginning, but I saw in practice that he was fit. We had this combination that worked on the pitch. He stormed and I think it should be.” Huge highlight here. The first goal was amazing. It was an incredible performance by Kasper. “
Denmark will meet the winners of the Netherlands-Czech Republic in Baku on July 3rd. Despite his good form, Hjulmand doesn’t bite when asked if he is now a contender for the title.
“One at a time,” said Hjulmand. “Every game has its own course. We believe in the squad and our quality and don’t have to think too far.
“I can’t promise final results but I can promise we will fight.”