Today, football was secondary. No matter what could have happened outside of events in Copenhagen, it would not have been important when compared to the precious commodity of human life.
Of course, what occurred was a totally unpredictable, and blameless, incident.
Christian Eriksen, the Danish star, went down on the turf of the Parken Stadium just two minutes before half-time, when set to receive possession from a throw-in.
Without wanting to pry on the health reasons behind the event, it was a moment that took on real significance when referee Anthony Taylor immediately beckoned on the physiotherapy teams.
Plenty will be made of the decision by UEFA’s in-game directorial department to keep showing images for as long as they did – including one shot of cardiopulmonary resuscitation being performed.
There will be inquests, I’m sure, and sport as a whole will learn more about how to balance broadcasting interests with personal privacy in these cases.
Obviously, there was little leeway on either the Danish or Finnish sides for a full abandonment of the game, despite the absolutely tragic circumstances.
I was personally taken aback when I heard play had resumed, and some will certainly be appalled by the decision, but the most important aspect is that Eriksen – at the time of writing – is in a stable condition.
Impeccable respect was displayed by both teams when they came back out to play, and though the decision to return may have been out of their hands, their behaviour when they did is a real testament to their collective characters.
Denmark were shaken, as any team in their position would’ve been.
For the winning goal, Kasper Schmeichel on any normal day would have saved from Joel Pohjanpalo.
Once they won a penalty, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s shot was tame and easily held by Lukáš Hrádecký.
These are not errors – they are evidence of human nature. Denmark should take tremendous credit from their afternoon in front of an outstanding set of fans on both sides, and if anyone is open for criticism, it is UEFA.
The day’s two other games were rendered immaterial in the circumstances, but were in their own parts at least partly redemptive of the spirit of the sport.
Wales were second best right until the point of their 74th minute equaliser, through the immaculate Kieffer Moore, against a classy Switzerland outfit.
From that point, they pressed hard and deserved their share of the spoils; an extremely creditable start for Robert Page, slightly thrown into the furnace of an international tournament after Ryan Giggs’ various alleged misdemeanours.
Had Switzerland had eleven Breel Embolo’s on the pitch today, however, they would certainly have won the contest.
His effort was stupendous throughout, and matched only by some fantastic goalkeeping by Danny Ward to keep him out on several occasions.
In the game’s late match, Belgium were the second of the tournament’s heavyweights to make their entrance.
They did not disappoint.
Even without game-changing trio Kevin De Bruyne, Axel Witsel and Eden Hazard from the start, they had plenty in the tank to play around with a weak Russia side.
Romelu Lukaku was lethal with his two goals and imperious in general, Thomas Meunier was highly influential from the right and the midfield duo of Youri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker was as consistent as ever.
Future opponents should be scared indeed.
But this day, as I say, was not about the athletic endeavours. It was about collective and individual fortitude, mostly on the part of the Danes, Eriksen’s family and the man who has been a stalwart for his country for over a decade.
It is reminder to remain humble and thankful for human life every day.
We didn’t think we needed that anymore after the last year, but we did.
Performance of the Day: The Danish National Football Team. To play on in those circumstances due to UEFA’s tight schedule, but more importantly to shield their star player from the prying eyes of television producers, they showed real integrity. They will be commended for many, many years to come for their selfless behaviour on a very sad day for them.
Up Next: Sunday sees another three matches, kicking off with England v Croatia at Wembley. After that inevitably tense and possibly heart-breaking affair, we have the low-key meeting of Austria and North Macedonia to clean our palate, and Netherlands v Ukraine to provide a final flourish to the weekend. Enjoy, if you are of a masochistic disposition!
Author - Will Hugall
Now a BA Journalism student at Nottingham Trent University, I divide my time between my base in Radford and back home in East Sussex while watching as much football as I can!