Scotland boss Steve Clarke blasts coverage of Christian Eriksen collapse and reveals he had to turn his TV off and go for a walk

Like everyone else who watched the harrowing pictures of Christian Eriksen’s collapse on Saturday evening, Scotland manager Steve Clarke and his players were left shocked and shaken by a traumatic event which threatened to cast a dreadful pall over the rest of the Euro 2020 finals.

Denmark's players escort midfielder Christian Eriksen as he is evacuated after collapsing on the pitch during the EURO 2020 Group B match between Denmark and Finland.
Denmark's players escort midfielder Christian Eriksen as he is evacuated after collapsing on the pitch during the EURO 2020 Group B match between Denmark and Finland.

Like everyone else, they then shared the deep sense of relief when news filtered through that the Denmark midfielder was awake and recovering after the cardiac arrest he suffered in the first half of his team’s match against Finland in Copenhagen.

From their Rockliffe Hall base in the north east of England, Clarke and most of his squad were tuned into the action as they counted down the hours to the start of their own campaign against Czech Republic at Hampden on Monday afternoon.

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For Clarke, there was also the added interest of casting his eye over a Danish side who are in Scotland’s 2022 World Cup qualifying group. But that became an irrelevance when Eriksen fell to the turf before receiving emergency medical treatment.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke oversees a training session at his squad's Rockliffe Hall base ahead of their Euro 2020 opener against Czech Republic. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The Scotland boss has strongly condemned the television coverage of the incident, revealing he felt compelled to turn off his TV as the BBC continued to show pictures of the stricken Eriksen and his distraught team-mates.

Tough to watch

“It was a horrible incident, just horrible,” said Clarke. “As soon as I saw the incident I actually turned the television off and I just went for a walk. It just wasn’t nice to see.

“What I would say is that I thought the TV coverage was really poor. They should have cut away from the incident as soon as it happened.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke pictured leaving the squad's Rockliffe Hall base to return to Glasgow on Sunday ahead of the Group D clash with Czech Republic at Hampden on Monday. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

“Everyone could tell immediately it was serious, so I didn’t think that part of it played out very well.

“The Danes are in our World Cup group so the vast majority of our players were watching the game and it was tough to see.

“Listen, the only thing for me to say on behalf of my staff, my players and everybody at the Scottish FA is that we wish Christian Eriksen a full and quick recovery.

“I hope his family – who must have found the whole ordeal extremely traumatic – are okay. I hope they get a lot of support and they come through it together. All we can do is wish Christian Eriksen and his family all the best.”

A captain's part

Clarke’s sentiments were echoed by Scotland captain Andy Robertson, who was deeply touched by the solidarity and compassion shown towards Eriksen by his team-mates. Liverpool left-back Robertson hailed the actions of English referee Anthony Taylor, an official he knows well from the Premier League, and Denmark captain Simon Kjaer who performed initial CPR on Eriksen and then helped form a shield around the Inter Milan player while the medics revived him.

“We were all watching it and all you can do at that moment is pray,” said Robertson. “I don’t know Christian personally but I’ve played against him a few times and it’s one of your fellow professionals.

“The scenes were heartbreaking. It wasn’t nice for the wider football community to watch but I can’t imagine what his family, friends and team-mates went through.

“Credit to the players on the park. They were unbelievable. To form that wall to keep him protected was fantastic.

“The referee as well. I know Anthony Taylor well and his way of dealing with it was second to none. He might not get the credit he deserves but to be so quick and responsive, he was probably a big part in saying the man’s life.

“Their captain Kjaer was heroic. Fair play to him. No matter what happens in this tournament, I don’t care if it’s the best goal ever scored in the world, that for me will be the picture of the tournament.

“You could see they were all devastated, they were so worried for their team-mate. The way they protected him was phenomenal. Now we know he’s okay, it just makes it even better.

“I’m just glad it wasn’t worse, I’m grateful he’s alive and stable, because his family must have gone through everything.”

A country united

It will be an afternoon of high emotion for Robertson and his team-mates at Hampden as they represent Scotland in the nation’s first match at a major tournament finals since the 1998 World Cup in France.

Even the understated Clarke, who has been determined to retain his normal approach to preparing for any match, was caught up by the infectious sense of anticipation ahead of the Group D opener.

“It feels like everyone in the country is excited about the tournament and that’s fantastic,” said the Scotland boss.

“That said, I was a little bit nervous on the drive from the airport to our hotel on Sunday when we were on the M8 and all the cars were slowing down to toot their horns! They were swerving to avoid each other but thankfully there were no incidents.

“Everyone wanted to wish us well and that’s great. So we’re definitely aware of the magnitude of this game and know what it means to everyone.

“And like we keep saying, we just want to get to the game and get started – and hopefully we can achieve a little bit more and do the country proud.

“I don’t want to tell any of the players that they shouldn’t get excited because sometimes when you’re excited you play your best football.

“But it needs to be controlled. We need to control our emotions and make sure that we play our game properly. And hopefully that’s good enough to get us the win that we want to start with.”

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