Medics who saved Christian Eriksen are real Euro winners – regardless of outcome on pitch

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If they want to hand out awards at the end of Euro 2020, forget the Golden Boot or the Player of the Tournament or whatever.

Give the highest individual accolades to the medics and their aides who attended the stricken Christian Eriksen.

As if, after a year and half in the grip of a pandemic that has stolen the lives of so many, we needed a reminder of the people who really matter in this world, this was it.

Those people whose vocation is to look after other people.

They are the heroes.

When we are talking about strikers who score winning goals, defenders who make unlikely blocks, coaches who make decisions that pay off, goalkeepers who save penalties, remember what real heroes look like.

(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Remember lifesavers.

Remember those who went to Eriksen as his team-mates formed that instinctive ring of protection.

Remember those who are not paid a king’s ransom for their dedication, those who are not feted and serenaded, those whose names are not put up in lights for the sacrifices they make.

They are the heroes of life, not just Euro 2020.

But as Eriksen begins his journey back to good health, in the way that other footballers, such as Fabrice Muamba, have done before him, let us hope the sense of perspective those terrible scenes gave us all lasts longer than normal.

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As Eriksen was stricken, social media was awash with people telling us how football really was not a matter of life and death, how it was not that important, how what really mattered was the well-being of players and families, etc, etc, etc.

And, of course, those people are right. But that should go without saying.

As it should go without saying that players should not be abused, their families should not have to endure their fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, partners, children, being vilified.

Criticised? Yes. Vilified? No.

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When Eriksen collapsed, he stopped being a highly-paid footballer and began to be a father and partner.

He should always have been both.

When Eriksen collapsed, he stopped being a skilled midfielder with set-piece skills but with a questionable work-rate and began being a man in the prime of his life with everything to live for.

He should always have been both.

Football is great. Full stop. Sport is great. Full stop.

It inspires us, it lifts us, it moves us.

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Yes, take Bill Shankly and his life-and-death comment literally and he is wrong, particularly in the immediate aftermath of happenings such as this.

But, for one, I know what he means. I suspect we have all been so wrapped up in a sporting moment, we all know what he means.

And don’t forget, professional football is littered with stories of young men and women who have found life through sport when their environments threatened the worst.

So, football and sport are important.

But if one of the ramifications of this is that if one person who actually abuses footballers, or any sportsman or woman, remembers they are just like us, then that is a crumb of hope.

When we wondered if Eriksen would pull through, we did not think of him as a footballer.

We thought of him as a friend we had never met.

And in this great sport, but a sport that is still scarred by abuse and hatred, we should think like that more often.

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