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Former Manchester United defender Daley Blind suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch – and still has his sights set on helping Holland win the Euros.
And now the 31-year-old Ajax star has sent a message to stricken Christian Eriksen to assure the Danish midfielder that his brush with death in Copenhagen last week does not have to end his career.
Eriksen is preparing to be fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator after collapsing on the pitch during his nation’s defeat to Finland.
It is the same procedure undertaken by Blind after he suffered a black-out during a Champions League game against Valencia in December 2019.
Christian Eriksen has been discharged from hospital
(Image: Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Ima)
Blind said: “The images from Copenhagen – with Christian lying on the grass – had such a big impact on me.
“Those images were so recognisable to me. It was so real again, this is why it was so emotional for me.
“I had to climb over a big, mental hurdle before I could manage to play the following day for Holland in our first group game.
“All the emotions came out. I am proud of myself that I managed to play for so long in that game. I did it, but it was hard.
“When this happened to me, the whole world was telling me I was finished as a player, that I would not be able to play again.
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“Look where I am today. This is why I say to everyone, ‘Leave Christian alone!’.”
Blind and Eriksen played together for Ajax.
The Dane then moved to Tottenham and Blind went to Old Trafford for four years before returning to Amsterdam.
Blind has told his friend that he can play again – if he learns to trust the advice of the doctors and the ICD device that will maintain and monitor the rhythm of his heart.
He said: “I felt I was ready and I felt comfortable to return once I got the green light from the doctors in the hospital and the medical staff at Ajax.
“There was no reason why I could not play at the top level again. The most important thing is that you have to feel free in your head.
“I had no fear. I was just incredibly happy that I was allowed to be part of the squad again and to be back in the team.
“Once the doctors tell you that you are OK to play again, you only feel the tension and excitement of playing, not the tension of fear.”
Blind added: “The box, as I call it, is always there.
“You feel it when you lie on your chest in bed, but during the day it does not give any hassle and I don’t even think about it.
“The box has become part of me and the most important thing is that it gives me a safe feeling.
Daley Blind has himself suffered heart issues
“But it was so hard mentally for me. When you have a knee injury or a torn hamstring, you live in a kind of bubble for a number of weeks.
“You know what the rough time period is to make a comeback with the squad or on the pitch.
“With this, you don’t know at all. I did not have a focus point, there was no date or spot on the horizon that I could focus on.
“But what annoys you most is all the people who tell you that your career is over and you will never play again.
“They don’t realise how much that hurts.”