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Brentford and Danish Mathias Jensen open to replace Christian Eriksen after he collapsed

Mathias Jensen leans back and raises his arms above his head.

“I knew something was wrong,” begins the midfielder. “Suddenly blood came out of my boot.” His hands draw a pretty gruesome diagram. Like a ‘fountain’, it says.

Someone stepped on Jensen’s foot, a stud tore through his boot and opened a nasty wound that ended Jensen’s Euro 2020.

Denmark's Mathias Jensen has opened up to the traumatic events of this summer's Euro 2020

Denmark’s Mathias Jensen has opened up to the traumatic events of this summer’s Euro 2020

Jensen (above) spoke to Sportsmail in his first interview since this summer's competition.

Jensen (above) spoke to Sportsmail in his first interview since this summer's competition.

Jensen (above) spoke to Sportsmail in his first interview since this summer’s competition.

Just 15 minutes after entering Denmark’s semi-final against England, he was led into a hidden corner of Wembley.

“I just saw the final minutes on my phone,” says Jensen. A few meters away, the doctors sewed up his skin again.

That wound has now healed. Unfortunately, there are scars from the tournament, from another alternate appearance, other minutes spent watching, helpless. That day, the drama unfolded with a much sharper focus.

If Jensen got away without Wembley noticing, Christian Eriksen’s Euro 2020 final moments will remain with everyone. Not least the man who replaced him.

“It was an out-of-body experience,” says Jensen. Sportsmail in his first interview since. ‘I can’t even remember that second half. You usually remember situations in the game, what you could have done better … but I don’t remember anything. ‘

Within 41 minutes of Denmark’s first game against Finland, Eriksen had collapsed on Parken’s field.

“When he got the ball, you could see it wasn’t a normal touch for Christian,” recalls 25-year-old Jensen. ‘You just knew right away that something was wrong. They told me to go warm up. So the first few minutes I really didn’t see much of it. ‘

As well as experiencing the collapse of his teammate Christian Eriksen on the field (picture above), Jensen himself was substituted in the semi-final defeat against England with a horrific foot injury.

As well as experiencing the collapse of his teammate Christian Eriksen on the field (picture above), Jensen himself was substituted in the semi-final defeat against England with a horrific foot injury.

As well as experiencing the collapse of his teammate Christian Eriksen on the field (picture above), Jensen himself was substituted in the semi-final defeat against England with a horrific foot injury.

Only the onslaught of paramedics slowed his shuttle along the touchline. Suddenly, Jensen was one of thousands in Copenhagen who were in awe. And the hope.

“We really didn’t know for the first 10 minutes if he was breathing,” he explains. “ Those 10 minutes felt so long … we were close, but you felt like we were so far away. ”

Eventually, word filtered through the countryside that the doctors had pulled Eriksen from the brink. When the midfielder was rushed to Rigshospitalet after his cardiac arrest, the players returned to the home dressing room.

“It was very quiet,” recalls Jensen. Shock ran through the squad; Manager Kasper Hjulmand tried to light a torch in the mist of what followed.

“We agreed pretty quickly that we would never continue unless Christian himself told us he was okay.”

Finally the grim decision came: end the game or return to Parken the next day. “It was very strange,” says Jensen. “None of us were prepared, mentally, to play.”

But the alternative? “None of us could go back into the stadium the next morning,” he admits. ‘It’s easier to just play … no matter what the outcome is. And then come home. Finland won 1-0. Few inside or outside Parken cared.

Midfielder Jensen (center) admitted that the tournament provided a veritable roller coaster of emotions

Midfielder Jensen (center) admitted that the tournament provided a veritable roller coaster of emotions

Midfielder Jensen (center) admitted that the tournament provided a veritable roller coaster of emotions

“I’ve never experienced anything as traumatic as that,” says Jensen. You really don’t know how to act.

All the more incredible, then, that Simon Kjaer and his players have shown the compassion and clarity of thought to form a human shield around Eriksen. To comfort his partner Sabrina when she went out sobbing to the field. The wounds did not begin to heal until the team returned to their training base.

“We had something to eat and then the psychologists came to our camp right away,” says Jensen. “We spoke with them as a group and you could also do it individually … we did not hold back.”

Hjulmand and Kjaer have formed a tight group. Eventually, however, all the players had to carry the weight of loneliness. Jensen pauses briefly. “Yes, it was not easy to sleep that night,” he says.

‘I also found it very difficult right after the game, when I saw my family in the stands. All I wanted to do was go up to them and hug them. But I couldn’t, really, due to Covid rules. They had the opportunity to speak with their loved ones the next day. That was what people needed.

From there, says Jensen, ‘I felt so much better. I was ready to move on. ‘ Many teammates felt the same. Then when Eriksen came out of the hospital, he visited the Denmark team.

“When things just happen in everyday life, you’re training and playing, soccer feels like the most important thing,” says Jensen. “But that really (put) a lot of perspective on what’s the most important thing in life.”

Jensen was tried for fouling Raheem Sterling in the box, leading to the winning goal.

Jensen was tried for fouling Raheem Sterling in the box, leading to the winning goal.

Jensen was tried for fouling Raheem Sterling in the box, leading to the winning goal.

Without their talisman, Denmark rode the waves of excitement to reach their first European semi-final since 1992. At 1-1, with 88 minutes remaining, Wembley staggered on the razor’s edge when Jensen replaced Thomas Delaney.

Shortly before the break in extra time, Raheem Sterling collided with Joakim Maehle, then Jensen, and fell into the area.

“Actually, I didn’t know, when it happened, if the referee thought it was me who was committing the fault,” says the midfielder. “I wasn’t even running towards the referee because I knew there was VAR, so I was thinking, ‘This can never be a penalty.’

“Even though I saw that (Sterling) had a slight touch … I don’t think that’s enough.” The kind of decision the umpires wouldn’t make this season. Jensen agrees.

I think that was also part of the reason we were so frustrated. Because we never thought it was a penalty ”, he smiles. ‘You never know if he will reach that final in a tournament again. So those little details decide that maybe we could have reached the final and maybe won everything. ”

Not that the 25-year-old had faced Italy. Not after they put a hole in his foot. “It wasn’t really painful, it was just a pretty big wound that was wide open,” recalls Jensen. “ It wasn’t a pretty look when I took my sock off … they had to clean it up and make sure there was nothing from the field inside my foot. ”

He remembers the talk with the doctor from Denmark: “When he said he had to sew it up right away. In fact, I didn’t know that I couldn’t keep playing, I thought it was something you did quickly and then I could probably put the boot back on. ”

Jensen has helped Brentford acclimatize to the Premier League and believes they will stay that way

Jensen has helped Brentford acclimatize to the Premier League and believes they will stay that way

Jensen has helped Brentford acclimatize to the Premier League and believes they will stay that way

But his night is over. Denmark, who had already made six changes, were left with 10 men.

“It was horrible,” says Jensen. “Because of all of Denmark and my teammates… you never want to get injured, but especially not in maybe the only Euro semi-final you will play.

“The whole euro was a strange roller coaster of emotions. We went from so low to so high and then for me personally it ended up very low again. There was pride, at least, in what we had done for the country.

Wembley, of course, had been a source of drunken joy a few months earlier when Jensen helped Brentford to the Premier League. Part of his Scandinavian core, his poise was crucial as Thomas Frank’s team reached back-to-back play-off finals.

The midfielder missed the first weeks of this campaign when his foot healed. Earlier this month he tested positive for Covid. Yet both with and without him, Brentford has been an exciting addition to the top flight. Even if four losses in a row have stunted his promotion.

“We have shown that we are good enough to be in the Premier League,” says Jensen. “We have always thought that we could do well.”

And he adds: ‘Of course we will also have difficult streaks throughout the season. But the way this club is driven and the willingness the team has to run, fight and work for each other will really take us a long way … we have a lot of faith in ourselves. ‘

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