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Vandals have "appalled" a small village after destroying its football club's defibrillator just hours after Denmark player Christian Eriksen's shock collapse.
Police are investigating after two youngsters were caught on CCTV smashing then stealing part of the life-saving device at Buxted Football Club, in Uckfield, East Sussex.
The young man and woman appeared to film themselves wrecking the £2,000 piece of medical equipment in the small hours of Sunday morning.
Club committee volunteer Mick Gosden told the Mirror the village was disgusted by the duo's actions, questioning why anyone would do such a thing.
He noted their vandalism came just hours after a defibrillator was used to resuscitate Eriksen when he suddenly slumped on the pitch in first half of the Euro 2020 game against Finland on Saturday.
The duo are seen on CCTV looking through the contents of the medical equipment
The midfielder “was gone” before being swiftly resuscitated on the pitch, Denmark’s team doctor said today.
Eriksen is recovering from his cardiac arrest in hospital amid a flood of well-wishes from worried football fans worldwide.
it’s unknown if the pair were aware of Eriksen’s collapse earlier.
Referencing his collapse – which took place just hours before the club's defibrillator was smashed – Mr Gosden said: "I really can't believe how low some people will sink.
"It's just so appalling."
"With the events of what happened yesterday afternoon with the professional footballer, it's so disappointing.
Christian Eriksen on the field shortly before his collapse during the match in Copenhagen
(Image: UEFA via Getty Images)
"How would they feel if their parents or grandparents needed a defibrillator someday and there was none there?"
The club is now appealing for anyone who believes they may know the youngsters to come forward to help the Sussex Police probe.
CCTV footage released by the club showed a young man and woman Mr Gosden guessed to be aged in their late teens or early twenties.
The pair can be seen digging the defibrillator out of its case and then smashing it
In the clip, the pair be seen removing the defibrillator from its case and tossing it aside to inspect it.
The boy flings it at the ground several times while appearing to film.
In longer footage seen by the club, the girl stamps on the device and try to remove the equipment's case from a wall, and when that doesn't work they appear to spit in it, Mr Gosden claimed.
The young man smashes the defibrillator on the ground as his companion watches
The pair seemed to be filming themselves on mobile phones as they carried out the act, he added.
"It looks like 'look how clever we are, isn't this fun.' I just think that it's very sad."
"The question I would like to see them answer would be 'how would you feel if a close friend or member of your family needed this save their life and because of your actions – they weren't able to?'"
The youngsters appeared to be filming or photographing their actions
Their actions were a blow for clubmembers, who had been in good spirits celebrating a first division Mid Sussex league championships win this weekend.
Mr Gosden said initial suspicions were the vandalism could have been linked to the tournament, but there was no evidence of a "grudge."
The defibrillator was a community good purchased by the local parish council for the safety of footballers and a nearby park popular with elderly dog walkers, he said.
All that remained of the life-saving device on Sunday morning
A local doctor's surgery had kindly offered to donate a defibrillator in the meanwhile, Mr Gosden added.
The community was so honest and safe, the equipment had not been locked up as defibrillators sometimes are, and required no code or phone call to access it.
"This kind of thing doesn't happen here, it's a nice, quiet village and this is the first I've heard of anything happening here like that," Mr Gosden explained.
Part of the device was found discarded in a nearby play park where children could have picked it up
"The village isn't like that, we don't really even have graffiti," he added.
"The summer I first came to the village the local paper was talking about how a bench had gone missing – but it turned out someone had just taken it away to varnish it."
The duo had been fortunate the device, which is used to resuscitate people undergoing cardiac arrest, did not malfunction and shock them, Mr Gosden said.
'I died, my heart stopped' – How Christian Eriksen collapse 'brought back dark memories'
Christian Eriksen would've had annual heart checks – and nothing irregular ever showed up
Parts of the wrecked device were found in a nearby play park, the club had been told.
Mr Gosden, who is first-aid trained, said the damaged device could been dangerous.
"If a child had got hold of the defibrillator who's to say they wouldn't have got a shock."
A Sussex Police spokesperson said: "Police are investigating a report of a defibrillator being damaged and stolen by two suspects at Buxted Football Club in Uckfield.
"The incident is believed to have taken place in the early hours of Sunday morning."
Anyone with information that may assist with enquiries is urged to report online or call 101, quoting 551 of 13/06.