The Danes also won the quarter-final against the Czech Republic for their playmaker and are the first team to reach the semi-finals after two initial defeats.
At the height of their emotional journey, the Danish football champions immediately thought of their long-lost friend and colleague. After rejoicing in Baku with his first semi-final match since the surprise victory in 1992, Christian Eriksen is now the inspiration for the big duel with hosts England in London.
“I think about Christian every day before and after the game,” coach Kasper Hjolmand said after the 2-1 draw against the Czech Republic on Saturday. “I’m glad he survived. We took him here and we’ll take him to Wembley as well.”
Ever since Eriksen shivered after collapsing in his first group match at the European Championships, the Danish team has been emotionally excited during this tournament with a wave of affection. Back home, fans celebrated the successors to “Danish Dynamite” with pride and verve, and not just in Copenhagen. More than 1,000 trailers also traveled to the Caspian Sea. Hogglemand in a red-and-white floppy hat, towering Thomas Delaney jumped up and down with his bare chest draped in a Danish flag. The whole team gathered in front of their fan mass for the big football family photo shoot.
The fact that Eriksen’s social network account put a heart on each of these photos on his teammates’ profiles on Sunday night shows just how close the bond is. “Christian wrote last night that he was very proud of us,” Thomas Delaney said. “He was the best player for so many years, we have it in our hearts, he should be here with us. We still struggle with him. But making him proud makes me happy.”
The next chance for that is on Wednesday (9:00pm CEST), when the next coup d’état succeeds in the final host England. After two initial defeats, no participant in the European Championship has reached the semi-finals – now there are only a few fans in Europe who do not allow Denmark to such success.
He certainly feels this universal support, Hjolmand said, and recently began to speak the big words about Eriksen’s fate: “There are a lot of agendas in football, but in those moments we all remembered why we started playing football and what values football is based on.”
The last time Eriksen showed himself outside the hospital on Instagram was about three weeks ago with his thumbs up. The 29-year-old has since been released and the first photo surfaced over the weekend which, according to Danish media, is supposed to show him on the beach in Tisfelde with a young fan. “He looked healthy and it was great to see him,” said Bjorn Bendzus, 11, of the BT newspaper, which published the joint photo.
The drama surrounding its leader did not only bring the team closer together. On the stands of Baku Olympic Stadium, illuminated in blue, fans presented a banner that read “FOR CHRIS10AN”. Former Mainz Hjolmand said after a difficult success in the humid evening heat that the support of the fans gave his team the energy needed to reach the top four places on the continent.
The Danes eagerly defended their 2-0 lead in the first half through Delaney (5) and Kasper Dolberg (42) after Bayer Leverkusen’s Patrick Schick (49) scored their fifth goal. Explaining the Danish recipe for success, Captain Simon Kjeer said, “We’ve been through a lot together. We’re a great group, we trust each other, we’re there for each other.” “We also know Christian is fine. We’re playing for him.” Also at Wembley.
As it stands, there will only be a handful of Danish fans there due to British travel restrictions. For this reason, Hegolmand appealed to the prime minister. “We have to hope that Boris Johnson wakes up and lets the thousands of Danish fans in,” the team boss said.
At the moment, only Danes living in the UK seem to be buying tickets. The Danish Association (DBU) has announced that it must receive 5,000 tickets. So that they could adequately support their team, the federation sent their jerseys and flags to England.
More than 1,000 fans from Denmark traveled to the Caspian Sea for the quarter-finals in Baku.