Referee Anthony Taylor, who was in charge of Denmark's Euro 2020 fixture against Finland, when Christian Eriksen collapsed, has spoken about the worrying situation for the very first time.
At Copenhagen's Parken Stadium in June in Denmark's opening Euro 2020 game, Eriksen collapsed in the 43rd minute after suffering a cardiac arrest, and medical attention was quickly required to treat the player.
The medics, along with Denmark captain Simon Kjaer, had a heroic role in protecting the player, and Taylor was also praised for his quick reactions to the situation, earning praise from UEFA chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti.
Now, Taylor, during the installation of a defibrillator at Altrincham FC, one of 2000 plus recipients of the equipment made available through the Premier League Defibrillator Fund, discussed the situation.
"The bottom line is that I was 10 metres away, looking directly at him, there was nobody near him," he said.
"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.
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"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."
Taylor then credited his past experiences, including seeing a fellow referee suffer a cardiac arrest before a game and working at a prison, where prisoners often harmed themselves, as the reason behind his quick reactions and emergency awareness.
He also discussed the restart of the game some two hours after the incident and how it was former Tottenham star Eriksen who encouraged his side.
"The players had spoken to Christian over FaceTime, Christian had actually said to them that they finish the game,” Taylor added.
"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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