Spectators feared the worst, then chants of 'Eriksen' rang out
A wave of relief was felt in the Copenhagen stadium when the announcement came that Denmark's Christian Eriksen was "in a stable condition" after he had sickeningly collapsed mid-game on Saturday.
Some 16,000 spectators in the Parken Stadium had watched in shock as medical personnel administered CPR to the Danish player before he was carried off the pitch.
"I could look down and see he was getting treatment, so everybody was like: 'I can't look at this', and I was like: 'I can't look at this,'" Rasmus Ottosen, a 34-year-old Danish supporter, told AFP.
Eriksen "is a national treasure, he's like your best friend," Ottosen said.
He and others opted to leave the stands as onlookers feared for the Inter Milan star as he laid motionless for over 10 minutes in the corner of the field where he suddenly collapsed in the 43rd minute of Denmark's opening Euro 2020 game against Finland. His teammates initial stares of disbelief spoke volumes about their concern as they formed a circle around the 29-year-old midfielder.
As medics performed chest compressions, many in the stadium feared the worst.
"My wife told me he looked dead in his eyes," 50-year-old supporters Benny told AFP.
With the gravity of the situation becoming clear, TV cameras eventually zoomed out.
Fellow players Thomas Delaney, Andreas Christensen and Daniel Wass could be seen wiping tears with their jerseys.
After about 15 minutes of anguish, Eriksen was finally carried off the pitch and rushed to nearby hospital Rigshospitalet. With the player displaying signs of life with slight movement and holding his hands to his head, hope returned to the stadium.
"My mother died five years ago and I didn't cry as much as when Eriksen left the pitch," Finnish supporter Mikka told AFP.
Bridging the divide of the competition, Finnish fans began shouting "Christian!" as Danish fans replied with "Eriksen!".
Meanwhile others began chanting the poetic Danish national anthem "There is a lovely country."
"Tonight's match will never be forgotten," Denmark's foreign minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted after the match and offered thanks for the inspiring chants from the Finns. "You embody the very essence of FairPlay!," Kofod said, adding a "Kiitos!" (Thanks in Finnish) at the end.
"It has been a special match for all Danish fans, one of those you will always remember," 44-year-old Rasmus, another Danish supporter, said as he left the stadium.
After it was confirmed that Eriksen was "awake" and in a "stable condition," the game resumed at 8:30 pm.
In the second half a more recognisable silence later fell over the stadium afterFinland scored, securing a 1-0 win over the home team. "I feel a bit disappointed... actually I think the match should never have continued," supporter Peter told AFP, all dressed in Denmark's red and white.