ANTHONY TAYLOR will not forget the look on Christian Eriksen’s face as he fell to the floor and the football world held its breath and prayed.
The 42-year-old English ref was the man in charge of Denmark’s opening Euro’s game against Finland when just before half time former Tottenham ace Eriksen collapsed with a cardiac arrest.
Speaking for the first time since that moment Taylor said he immediately knew the situation was very serious as he called for medical assistance and Danish captain Simon Kjaer began the life saving operation.
Taylor said: “The bottom line is that I was 10 metres away, looking directly at him. There was nobody near him. I can clearly see there was something seriously wrong and you could also tell by the look on his face that he was in some serious distress.
“What we need to remember is the ref’s main responsibility is the safety of players, whether that’s a broken leg or a cardiac arrest. The quicker you get medical attention to him the better.
“The real heroes are the doctors who did the compressions and Simon Kjaer who started it.
“I vividly remember just before we took the teams back inside. A security guy came to me asking permission for his wife to be on the field. For me, an absolute no-brainer, of course it’s OK.”
It is not the first time Taylor has been involved in such a situation at a match..
Also his ten years experience in the prison service have held him in good stead when faced with such a challenging situation.
He explained: “I’ve witnessed someone suffer a sudden cardiac arrest before, when I was refereeing Burnley and Newcastle. One of my colleagues, Eddie Wolstenholme, had a cardiac arrest in the changing room and we delayed kick off. That happened at teamsheet exchange.
I was a prison officer for 10 years. You deal with self-harm, people trying to kill themselves. You recognise when people need help
“He needed immediate CPR and had open-heart surgery and survived and is back at work. I’ve had similar situations when I worked in the prison service.
“I was a prison officer for 10 years. You deal with self-harm, people trying to kill themselves. You recognise when people need help.”
His handling of the situation in Copenhagen was praised by UEFA chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti.
But there was some criticism that the game was restarted less than two hours later not least from Danish manager Kasper Hjulmund.
But Taylor said: “When it came to a decision over restarting the game, which is one that has obviously been debated, that was made in full agreement with both sets of players and federations.
“The players had spoken to Christian over FaceTime. Christian had actually said to them that they finish the game
“It’s certainly been the most challenging situation in my career but it highlights the importance of handling people and emotions. People think referees have no heart and just there to ruin afternoons but the bottom line here is understanding how people feel and react.
“It probably hit me a little bit more the following day when I was travelling to our base camp in Istanbul. It makes you realise how precious life can be.”
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*Taylor was speaking at the installation of a defibrillator at Altrincham FC one of 2000 plus recipients of the equipment made available through the Premier League Defibrillator Fund.