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Football Reporting


Christian Eriksen’s collapse was so emotional and England should not underestimate Denmark’s togetherness

ENGLAND cannot underestimate the togetherness of Denmark that was forged following Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest.

The team’s unity is a powerful tool to have as they head into their first semi-final since 1992.

Denmark believe they can beat England in their semi-final clash at Wembley


Denmark believe they can beat England in their semi-final clash at WembleyCredit: Getty
England can't afford to rest on their laurels against the Danes


England can’t afford to rest on their laurels against the DanesCredit: Getty

I was a pundit on the BBC’s coverage when Eriksen collapsed on the pitch in their opener against Finland.

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I was sitting alongside Gary Lineker, Cesc Fabregas and Micah Richards and, naturally, we found it incredibly tough to discuss what had unfolded.

It was one of the most emotional broadcasts I’ve ever been involved with.

You could hear a pin drop for that dreadful half an hour or so when it seemed an unthinkable tragedy had occurred.

It was distressing and emotional for not only us in the studio but for the football world.

It is in those moments football goes out of the window and there are things that matter so much more.

You realise that footballers and pundits are all just humans.

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I think the powerful images of the Denmark team-mates forming a shield around Eriksen, and the captain, Simon Kjaer, consoling his wife will live long in the memory.

Even after that moment and losing their first two games, the country galvanised and beat Russia in their final group game.

The response of the team was heroic in adversity and they now have every neutral behind them on Wednesday evening.

You can see that Kasper Hjulmand’s side are closer than ever.

But he’s also got a talented squad with a number of Premier League players who can catch England out.

Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Southampton’s Jannik Vestergaard and Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen will all know how we work.

The fans are fully behind them as well.

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Denmark were given a hero’s send-off as they left their Helsingor training base before making their way to London.

Hundreds of supporters lined the street outside the hotel where the team had been staying as they cheered manager Hjulmand from his balcony.

But let me tell you, never underestimate the power of Three Lions fans.

Our iconic supporters flinging beer into the air in pub gardens and chanting ‘football’s coming home’ has helped propel Gareth Southgate’s side this far.

Everyone up and down the country is talking about it.

There were absolute scenes at BOXPARK Croydon when Atomic Kitten performed Whole Again, with England fans preferring the alternative lyrics of ‘football’s coming home again’.

Neil Diamond’s 1969 hit Sweet Caroline has become a favourite anthem of England fans at this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament.

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Even the German fans were belting it out in the end in the 2-0 loss at Wembley. It’s a song that all supporters can enjoy.

That’s the beauty of this year’s Euros.

The football world united in the wake of Eriksen’s collapse and it has made this one of the best tournaments ever.

And I will be among the madness at Wembley on Wednesday!

For all the England games so far I’ve been hard at work in the studio with the BBC – but tonight I’ll be in the mix as one of the fans.

I feel like a big kid. I’m so excited and lucky to be going.

I’m actually more nervous watching as a fan instead of being in work mode.

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I’m so used to doing all my preparation, going to hair and make-up and then being live on air.

Now I’m a bag of nerves waiting for kick-off!

Hopefully England can reward all the fans by going that one step further tonight.

When I was a player my old England boss, Hope Powell, said we could never stop until we had a gold medal around our necks.

And that’s what Southgate will be thinking on Wednesday evening, too.

We’ve got to go one better than Russia 2018 and not get too carried away.

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