Denmark have reached the Euro 2020 semi-finals on the back of an unbreakable bond generated by Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in the early stages of the tournament, coach Kasper Hjulmand said after Saturday’s 2-1 last-eight win over Czech Republic.
Midfielder Eriksen collapsed during their opening 1-0 defeat by Finland on June 12 and is recovering after an on-pitch life-saving intervention by team mates and medical staff before he was rushed to a nearby hospital.
“I still think about Christian every single day and that he should have been here,” Hjulmand told a news conference after the Danes booked a semi-final clash with either England or Ukraine at Wembley next Wednesday.
“We are happy that he survived and we carried him in our hearts all the way to this match and to Wembley. The fundamental values of football came through in those seconds and those days and we all remembered why we started to play football.
“Christian has been a part of the team for a long time as this is not something we’ve built overnight and he is a big part of this result.”
Midfielder Delaney, man of the match after scoring Denmark’s opener against the Czechs with a thumping header, added: “Christian said last night how proud he was of us. He’s been our best player for many years and we carry him in our hearts. Making him proud is something that makes me feel happy.”
England defeated Ukraine last quarter-final later on Saturday in Rome.
Italy and will meet Spain in the other semi-final on Tuesday at Wembley, with the final set for the same venue on July 11.
The Danes dominated the first half and were two up at the break after Kasper Dolberg added a superb second before Patrik Schick netted for the Czechs early in the second period and set up a tense finish in Baku.
Hjulmand conceded his team were on the back foot in the second half but lauded the players for soaking up the Czech pressure in the closing stages.
“We have an intense style of play based on attacking football which we are very proud of,” he said. “I think we lacked some of that intensity today and we suffered at the end but what a great way to suffer.”
Delaney stressed that Denmark were fired up to match past generations, namely the side that played some spectacular football at the 1986 World Cup and the team that were European champions in 1992.
“My generation grew up admiring the history of Denmark’s ’86 and ’92 sides and we are overjoyed that we have been able to give our fans a gift,” he said.
“Being in the semi-finals means we are in great company now. We have a goal and we don’t care who we play next, we’re going to Wembley and what an amazing journey it’s been.”