Romelu Lukaku and Christian Eriksen are teammates at Inter Milan. When the latter collapsed on the pitch mid-match in Copenhagen and had to be given CPR to be revived and then was taken to the hospital, everyone from the Denmark team, their opponents Finland, the fans in the stadium, everyone was horrified and tearful, praying for the well-being of Eriksen. An hour and a half after the incident, the Belgium vs Russia match went ahead in Saint-Petersburg as planned. For Lukaku and the entire football community, it was highly emotional and difficult for the show to go on.
However, when Lukaku scored as early as the 10th minute, he rushed towards the camera, cupped it and said, “Chris, Chris, stay strong — I love you."
“Chris, Chris, I love you!”Romelu Lukaku has sent his best wishes to Christian Eriksen in the midfielder’s road to recovery. 💙 pic.twitter.com/L1AKjkbP1D
— Everton Extra (@Everton_Extra) June 12, 2021
Eriksen is currently in hospital, recovering and upon his request and with the players’ nod, UEFA completed the Denmark game as well, where Finland won 1-0.
Lukaku revealed that he cried ahead of the kick-off as he was extremely worried for his club teammates.
“I am really happy with the win, but it was hard for me to play because my thoughts were with Christian Erkisen."
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez admitted other members of his squad were also affected after seeing Eriksen suddenly slump to the turf during the Denmark-Finland game.
“We were watching the game live and five minutes afer Christian collapsed, we went into a team meeting. As you can imagine, the last thing we wanted to do was talk about football," said Martinez.
“There were a lot of tears from players who have shared dressing rooms and big moments with Christian.
“All our thoughts go to him and his family, but also to the Danish team, as that was a really tough moment."
Before kick-off, the Belgium team were booed for taking a knee to highlight racial injustice, while their Russian opponents stood.
Jeers echoed around the Krestovsky Stadium as the entire Belgian team, as well as Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, knelt, while Lukaku, whose parents come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, raised his right fist.
England have said they will do the same for their opening game of the European Championship against Croatia on Sunday.
Ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling to protest against racial injustice in 2016.
The gesture has become a familiar sight across a range of sports since George Floyd, who was black, was killed by a white police officer in the United States last year.
(With AFP inputs)