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FOOTBALL

‘We were put in a position’: Danish players on having to play after Eriksen collapse

Denmark's goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and striker Martin Braithwaite on Monday lamented that they had to choose whether to restart the Denmark-Finland Euro 2020 match while they were reeling from Christian Eriksen's mid-game collapse.

'We were put in a position': Danish players on having to play after Eriksen collapse
Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel (left) and teammate Martin Braithwaite (right) said that it had been unfair to force play to resume. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

“We were put in a position, that I personally feel that we shouldn’t have been put in,” Schmeichel told Danish media at a press event in Helsingor north of Copenhagen.

“We had two options,” Schmeichel explained. “Either come back the day after (Sunday) at noon or continue the game.”

The Leicester City goalkeeper said he wished someone more senior would’ve said “that it wasn’t the time to take that decision, and that we should maybe wait until the day after to decide”.

“What has happened has happened, and hopefully they’ll learn from this,” Schmeichel said, as he praised what he considered the real “heroes” of the game, the medics.

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Barcelona striker Martin Braithwaite said the players would have “wanted a third option, because we didn’t want to play,” noting that the decision to resume the game was “not a wish”.

“It was one of the only possibilities we had, and we were told we should make a decision,” Braithwaite said.

The comments mark the first time since Eriksen’s dramatic collapse and cardiac arrest on Saturday in the game against Finland that his teammates have spoken to the press.

Eriksen’s condition is still “stable” and  “good”, Jakob Hoyer, the Danish Football Union’s communications director said, adding that the player remained in hospital.

The players were able to talk to Eriksen via a video call on Sunday, and he was also visited in the hospital by Schmeichel.

“He said in his own way that we should look forward to the game on Thursday (against Belgium). It meant a lot,” midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who missed a penalty against Finland after the restart, told Danish media.

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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