Denmark has extra Eriksen impetus to reach Euro 2020 final

LONDON (AP) — As if Denmark needed it, the team got even more encouragement Tuesday to keep on winning at the European Championship.

UEFA invited Christian Eriksen to the Euro 2020 final, a match that will take place almost exactly one month after he collapsed on the field after suffering cardiac arrest while playing.

“I hope that if he comes to the final that we are going to be playing it,” Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said. “It would be amazing.”

In order to get that far, Denmark will have to beat England on Wednesday in the semifinals at Wembley Stadium.

Eriksen fell face-first onto the field during his team’s opening match against Finland on June 12. His teammates formed a protective wall around him as medical workers resuscitated him with a defibrillator.

Besides Eriksen, UEFA also invited the medics who helped save his life to Sunday’s final, which will also be played at England’s national soccer stadium.

Wembley is a stadium Eriksen knows well. He has played at the iconic venue many times before with former club Tottenham, even using it as a temporary home while the London club’s new stadium was being built.

“I’ve talked to him and I’ve told him so many times that I think about him,” Hjulmand said. “Even when we got in here, I thought that we would play at Wembley and at his old stadium.

“So he is with us. And we still play for him, there is no doubt about that.”

Denmark has reached the semifinals at a major soccer tournament for the first time since the team surprisingly won the European Championship title in 1992. Despite losing their opening two matches at Euro 2020, the Danes beat Russia to advance from the group stage and then defeated Wales and the Czech Republic.

“It’s very difficult to quantify it,” Hjulmand said. “I think we were in a very, very good position when we started the tournament, we were well prepared.

“We lost our best player in Christian and I don’t think it’s an advantage to play without Christian,” Hjulmand added. “But of course something happened and especially the support and the compassion we have been given from the Danish people is really something that makes us do as much as we can.”

It wasn’t just the Danish people. Soccer fans around the world began cheering on Denmark, at least until their team came up against the Danes.

Now the team has to keep playing with the emotion that has spurred them through two knockout rounds.

“That support and that compassion gives us a lot,” Hjulmand said. “That’s why I don’t have to do much for the game tomorrow, I just have to remind the guys to push the same button as they did the last matches and go for it.”

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