By Satej Paknikar Opening Doorz Editorial | June 26, 2021

Simon Kjaer leads from the front

A captain leads from the front, putting his team in the focus and coming to the fore when the need arises. Simon Kjaer did just that when he saw his teammate Christian Eriksen collapse near the Finland half. It was Denmark’s first match in Euro 2020. The players were in tears. Kjaer did what a leader must—he rose to the occasion administering first aid to his teammate before the medical team arrived and then formed a wall around the unconscious Eriksen as they fought to revive the mid-fielder. They lost the match to Finland by a goal.

He then consoled Sabrina Kvist, Eriksen’s partner and the mother of their two children. Powerful images that will be part of Euro 2020.

Euro 2020 Denmark Rises
Leading from the front… Simon Kjaer consoles Sabrina Kvist.

Against Belgium, they lost 1-2. The stadium was packed to the rafters as a huge Christian flag unfurled and play was stopped for a minute. The Nation was behind the team. The team wanted to give their all to Christian.

In a hospital in Copenhagen, the news was positive; Eriksen had recovered and a few days later, fitted with a defillibrator, the midfielder visited his teammates during practice, springing hope in the camp.

Danish team receives CPR

No one knows what transpired at the training camp. But one thing was certain, a dead man was walking in their midst. In their mind they must have thought if Christian Eriksen can come back from the dead, so can the Danish team. And this is exactly how they scripted their entry into the round of 16 at Euro 2020. Down and almost out… but like Eriksen they fought. The crowd in the stands did the CPR on the Danish team with their passionate support, just like Simon Kjaer did CPR on Eriksen. The mood was magical. The play was surreal in the decisive Group B game against Russia.

With two losses, Denmark had to win big to make it to the knockout stage. The result of the Belgium-Finland match also mattered. With a point in hand, a Finland win would have squashed their hopes. A Russian win too would have spelt doom for the Danes as Russia already had a win under their belt. But this was a Danish team out on Mission Impossible!

Euro 2020 Denmark Rises
Can you hear the sound of thunder… Danish players celebrate Anders Christensen’s strike.

With the electric atmosphere in Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Mikkel Damsgaard began the rout with a top of the box shot. In the second half, Yussuf Poulsen grabbed a horrible back pass from a Russian defender to make it 2-0. Anders Christensen unleashed a firecracker of a shot to pump in the third goal while defender Joakim Mehle dashed into the Russian half, sending three Russian defenders the wrong way before slotting home. The crowd was in raptures. The Phoenix had risen… from the ashes. 

The points table for Group B kept changing with every passing minute as Belgium played Finland. In all, 7 goals were scored from both the games. Belgium topped the group drubbing Finland 2-0.

Euro 2020 Denmark Rises
Egged on by the home crowd in Copenhagen, Denmark scripted a class win.

1992 Euro win on their minds

Today, Denmark takes on Wales in the first round of 16 matches at Euro 2020. The Danes have peaked and at the back of their mind will be their 1992 Euro win. Yugoslavia’s disqualification as a break up of their country saw Denmark become a part of the eight-team competition in Sweden.

The match against Russia is history. The Danish players are on fire. There’s rhythm and purpose in their play. There is also that extra impetus for them making it from the dead.

They are going to be a team to watch out for. The Welsh team is going to have their hands full. The fans are in for a soccer treat.

As for Simon Kjaer, he will continue to inspire silently as a central defender, keeping an eye on his flock. 

(Satej Paknikar, all of 18 years, is a young cricket enthusiast from D G Ruparel College in Mumbai, representative of the millions of young cricketers who play wherever and whenever they can. He is also game to tweet, write and discuss cricket, with statistics to back his point. Satej, who has had formal coaching stints in the western suburbs of Mumbai, is a self-motivated left-handed bowler by choice in a batsman’s world).

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