Daley Blind revealed he considered not playing in the Netherlands' opening European Championship clash against Ukraine on Sunday after Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest just a day earlier.
The 31-year-old, who was incredibly emotional both during and after the game at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, has an electronic device called an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) fitted after suffering from on-field heart problems in the past.
He went to the ground twice in the space of a year during the 2019/2020 season. In December of 2019, he was diagnosed with heart muscle inflammation after suffering from dizziness in a Champions League tie against La Liga side Valencia.
Then in August 2020, with just 10 minutes remaining in a pre-season friendly against Hertha Berlin, Blind suffered another major scare when he required medical attention after suddenly collapsing on the ground with nobody around him.
Blind returned to full training just weeks later and has since impressed for Ajax in the Eredivise, earning himself a call-up to Frank de Boer's 26-man squad for the European Championship after making 41 appearances for club and country.
Daley Blind is an incredible footballer. A Warrior of men. I can watch him for days.
Simple but effective player :flag_nl::muscle: pic.twitter.com/STJu6J4kWU
- Isiah Madrigal (@Realisiah1) June 13, 2021
The former Manchester United midfielder featured in Monday's entertaining 3-2 win against Ukraine but later revealed that he almost didn't play after seeing what happened to his friend Christian Eriksen during Denmark's clash against Finland on Saturday afternoon.
Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on the field of play during the first half. The 29-year-old midfielder, who was unconscious when medics reached him on the pitch, was given CPR before later being taken to the hospital, where his condition was described as stable.
An emotional Blind, who left the field in tears after being substituted in the 64th minute before being embraced by manager De Boer, spoke about how much of an impact Eriksen's collapse had on his state of mind before playing on Sunday.
'Yesterday had a huge impact on me," he told Dutch broadcaster NOS.
"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.
Daley Blind, who is ex team-mates with Christian Eriksen and has had heart problems, was very emotional when he came off:
"It made me sleep badly and also really thought about not playing. It was a big mental hurdle to overcome, but I'm proud that I did."
Hero #NED pic.twitter.com/abSGeh35Kj
- Clockwork Oranje (@ClockworkOranje) June 13, 2021
So much respect for Daley Blind. That he managed to play today is incredible
- Annika :flag_nl::flag_hr::flag_be: (@Annika3200) June 13, 2021
I thought it was so brave of daley blind to talk about the emotions he felt after what happened yesterday with eriksen and how it brought back awful memories for him. I can't imagine how he must have felt, also today, stepping on the field, giving it all he had, admirable :two_hearts:
- Ann (@maisonpq) June 13, 2021
Blind helped his side to a memorable 3-2 win against Ukraine, as goals from Gini Wijnaldum, Wout Weghorst and a winner from Denzel Dumfries in the 85th minute sealed all three points for Frank de Boer's side as they go second in Group C.
Featured Image Credit: PA