DALEY BLIND considered withdrawing from Holland’s Euro 2020 opener after seeing his former Ajax team-mate and friend Christian Eriksen collapse after suffering a cardiac arrest on Saturday.
Former Manchester United defender Blind admitted he had to ‘overcome a big hurdle’ to play against Ukraine having also being affected by heart issues himself.
Denmark midfielder Eriksen needed CPR after being taken ill during Saturday’s match against Finland.
Blind has been fitted with an implanted defibrillator after being diagnosed with heart muscle inflammation.
Blind left the pitch in tears following Holland’s 3-2 win over Ukraine on Sunday.
He told Dutch broadcaster NOS: “Yesterday had a huge impact on me. Besides the fact that I know Christian well as a friend, the situation for him is terrible. Of course I have also experienced a few things in that area, so that I had to overcome a mental hurdle to play.
“I had a lot of trouble with it, but I’m proud that I did it. Then all the emotion comes out for a while.
“I’ve definitely thought about not taking part. The images and the moment had a lot of impact and I didn’t sleep very well because of them. I really had to overcome a big hurdle to do this.”
The Dutch squad contains a number of Eriksen’s former and current teammates while Frank de Boer managed the Danish playmaker at Ajax.
Meanwhile, their Group C game took place at the Johan Cruyff Arena, home of Eriksen’s former club Ajax.
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The Netherlands players were together watching the Denmark v Finland clash on Saturday and Blind said: “We were with a number of guys who also experienced Abdelhak Nouri [who was left with permanent brain damage after collapsing during a pre-season friendly while at Ajax] and also with teammates of Christian.
“It has so much impact. It is very recognisable to me and that made it intense. Also for my family. My parents, my wife.”
Blind added: “Leave him alone. Don’t speculate about his future. Give him time and space to recover. If it didn’t go well, it would start haunting your head even more.
“He now even encourages his teammates to play. That’s why I decided to play myself. Also because I’m safe according to the doctors.”
De Boer said: “For me it was very difficult to see those images yesterday. We saw the game live and I had to leave the room.
“I’ve worked for five years with Christian Eriksen and as well there are some players in my team who are in contact with him or are still playing with or who had a good bond with him when he played for Ajax so it was a rollercoaster last night.
“We had a meeting scheduled last night to talk about our tactical gameplay but we rescheduled it for the morning because I didn’t want to speak about football so we did that this morning and everybody could find his own moment and have his own space.
“Daley was quite emotion as well. He had some problems with his own heart as you know and even now Christian Eriksen is one of his best friends so when you’re both at the tournament they have fought for it.
“So there is a lot of emotions going through him so it definitely was not easy for us, for him especially.
“We hear good news coming from Denmark so let’s hope that things will get well for him and now we need to continue and focus on the most important thing next to the normal, [most] important thing [that is] life, which is football. That’s what we did today.’
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