Referee Anthony Taylor’s training as a prison officer at Manchester’s notorious Strangeways jail ensured he acted decisively during Christian Eriksen’s on-pitch collapse – with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leading the worldwide praise
- Anthony Taylor’s first career was as a prison officer at a category A jail
- Taylor, who is know for his professional approach, was coached by fellow official Chris Foy as he established his reputation as one of Europe’s best referees
- Foy says the quick decision-making and calmness needed in prison is a big help
- Taylor once said it is easier to keep order inside than referee the Premier League
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here.
Hero ref Anthony Taylor’s experience as a prison officer helped him make the split-second decisions that saved the life of Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen at Euro 2020, according to the man who mentored him.
Taylor has been praised by Chris Foy, who was one of the coaches that worked with the former prison guard as he established himself as an official in the Premier League.
And on Saturday night at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Foy said all of Taylor’s training and experience – on the pitch and off it at the notorious Strangeways prison in Manchester – came together as he took control of the horrific circumstances surrounding Eriksen’s collapse.
In the 42nd minute of the Group B Euro 2020 match between Denmark and Finland, the Inter Milan play-maker jogged towards the touchline to receive the ball from a throw-in during a routine phase of play, but to everyone’s horror the star stumbled and collapsed, head-first to the turf.
As the Danish players ran to their stricken team-mate and Eriksen lay motionless after suffering a cardiac arrest, Taylor immediately recognised something was badly wrong and without a moment’s hesitation, stopped play and waved the medical teams onto the pitch.
Taylor managed the appalling events with a coolness and professionalism that has won him praise around the world, including from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Finland captain Tim Sparv, former referee Mark Clattenburg, as well as countless fans and pundits.
Anthony Taylor (left) kept his composure during the horrifying scenes in Denmark’s match against Finland and his decision-making helped to save Christian Eriksen’s life
Denmark player Eriksen collapsed shortly before half-time during his country’s Euro 2020 tie against Finland at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen
Eriksen released a statement on Tuesday thanking people for the support that he has received and shared a selfie giving fans a thumbs up from hospital after his cardiac arrest
‘Encouraging news about Christian Eriksen, we are all thinking about him and his family,’ the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Twitter account said. ‘Well done to the medical team and Anthony Taylor for their calm and swift action. W.’
All the time, Taylor was focused on those around him, feeding information back to the technical area via his radio link with the fourth official and calming the distraught players, who quickly formed a human shield around their colleague.
And Foy says the referee’s experience in the most extreme situations has taught him to cope and deliver when every second counts
Taylor himself has compared his experience at Strangeways, a category A prison, where some of Britain’s most dangerous inmates are incarcerated, with refereeing. And the ability to spot a problem and take decisive action is something common to both jobs.
The devastated players formed a shield around team-mate Christian Eriksen on the pitch
‘There are skills which are interchangeable between working in the prison service and refereeing,’ Taylor, who lives in Cheshire with with his wife and two teenage daughters, told The Sun before taking charge of the FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea in 2017.
‘It’s not about red and yellow cards, it’s about stopping things happening as much as you can. Trying to be proactive.
‘Working in a prison meant I needed a lot of communication and management qualities to deal with daily situations.
‘I specialised in control and restrain techniques, educating staff on the best ways to control violent individuals and difficult situations that arise.
‘I spent a considerable number of years working with those who suffered severe mental health problems, a lot of attempted suicides, that kind of thing.’
Foy, who is now the head of public engagement at the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), which provides referees to the Premier League and EFL, has worked with Taylor and mentored him.
‘Anthony was a prison officer and I am quite sure he has been in some stressful situations before, but it is how you deal with that,’ Foy told Sportsmail.
‘The way he dealt with it was prompt, it was quick, it was confident. And it was the right course of action so probably his prison training came in and did give him a bit of help in that situation.’
Although they were traumatised, the Danish players had to return to the pitch to continue and eventually lost their group match 1-0 to Finland
Taylor’s first career was as a prison officer. He lives in Cheshire and relaxes walking his black cockapoo, Montgomery
Taylor refereed his first Football League matches in 2006, when he was still working 40-hour shifts – including nights – at the Manchester prison.
He became a Premier League referee in 2010 and has officiated the EFL Cup final, Championship Play-Off final and Community Shield, as well as the FA Cup final.
Foy said he was proud of Taylor, 42, even before Eriksen, 29, collapsed, just seeing him refereeing in a major tournament, and his admiration only grew as he watched on.
‘I felt awful when I saw that,’ Foy told Sportsmail. ‘When he had to deal with that situation… The way he recognised it. He saw it and recognised what had gone on, thinking quickly and then he’s got to act.
‘Bang, bang, bang. It’s fast, it’s quick. And he’s dealt with it. He did a cracking job.’
The scenes in the Parken Stadium were particularly harrowing for Foy, who was a referee in the Football League and Premier League for almost 20 years.
Referee Taylor (middle) pictured heading out onto the pitch in the moments before Denmark’s match against Finland kicked off on Saturday in Euro 2020
Fabrice Muamba is treated on the pitch at White Hart Lane after he suffered a cardiac arrest – Taylor’s mentor Chris Foy was the fourth official that day during the match
Foy (left) has worked with Anthony Taylor during Premier League fixtures
The veteran ref had been the fourth official on the day that Fabrice Muamba collapsed at White Hart Lane after suffering a cardiac arrest in March 2012, when he was playing for Bolton Wanderers against Tottenham in a televised FA Cup game.
‘It was not a good feeling to see that,’ said Foy, who admitted he texted Howard Webb, the match referee at Spurs nine years ago.
‘Thankfully both players are still alive, which is absolutely brilliant.’
Following Eriksen’s collapsed, the players returned to the pitch to complete the match, which Finland won 1-0. Afterwards, Finland captain, Tim Sparv led the tributes to Taylor.
‘The way referee Anthony Taylor handled the whole situation was very good,’ he told Sportsmail.
‘For me, he was a key person during this event. I felt he was a very calm character, he was very empathetic to our emotions. I felt he was fantastic, the way he dealt with all of it and the way he communicated everything.
‘A big credit to him and his colleagues in this kind of situation. I can imagine it was tough for them as well. They were very friendly and Taylor was a fantastic guy.’
Finland’s captain Tim Sparv (right) was on the pitch when Eriksen (left) collapsed on Saturday
Sparv took his Finland players away from Eriksen and admitted some team-mates were in tears
Thankfully Eriksen was conscious when he left the stadium on Saturday and has undergone tests in hospital. His agent Martin Schoots said he had spoken to the midfielder on Sunday and he was ‘making jokes’, ‘in good form’ and hoping to watch Denmark’s next game against Belgium on Thursday.
And today, he has posted the first picture of himself since his ordeal, giving a thumbs up in his hospital bed and thanking people for their array of messages and well wishes.
‘Big thanks for your sweet and amazing greetings and messages from all around the world,’ Eriksen said. ‘I’m fine – under the circumstances. I still have to go through some examinations at the hospital, but I feel okay.’
Foy has reached out to Taylor since the incident. ‘I spoke to him Sunday morning by text. He said he was OK. He will be sitting down with colleagues and sports psychologist and talking it through.
‘The football family is a massive family and it is there for you if you need support. And I am quite sure he has had tremendous support from his friends, his colleagues and his family.’
Kasper Schmeichel (right) consoled Eriksen’s distraught girlfriend, Sabrina Kvist Jensen, at the side of the pitch as he was receiving urgent medical treatment
Taylor is proud of his prison experience and in 2018 he supported a campaign, called Prison, Me? No Way, aimed at educating young people about the reality of life behind bars.
At the time he told Sky Sports it was harder to referee matches in the Premier League than keep order inside.
However, he disclosed: ‘A lot of preparation goes into the psychological aspect. Many of us work hard on having the right process in our minds.
‘It’s about looking at something, thinking about what has happened and what needs to be done.’
Taylor learned to react quickly in stressful situations during his first career as a prison officer at Manchester’s Strangeways Prison (pictured)
‘I’m fine… under the circumstances’: Upbeat Christian Eriksen posts a thumbs-up selfie from his hospital bed as he faces more tests to uncover WHY he suffered cardiac arrest on the pitch
Christian Eriksen has posted the first picture of himself in hospital since he suffering a cardiac arrest during Denmark’s Euro 2020 clash with Finland on Saturday.
The Inter Milan and former Tottenham midfielder collapsed during the first half of the group game in Copenhagen and required 13 minutes of CPR before he was taken to hospital in a stable condition, where he remains.
Eriksen released his first public statement since the incident on Monday, insisting he ‘feels better’ and ‘won’t give up’. He’s now posted a photo on Instagram of himself giving a thumbs up in his hospital bed.
Eriksen posted a statement alongside his hospital selfie and told his fans that he feels ‘fine – under the circumstances’ but will have further examinations in hospital
The former Tottenham midfielder, who now plays for Inter Milan, was taken to hospital in a stable condition, where he remains
A heart attack and a cardiac arrest are not the same thing
A cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart stops pumping blood around their body and they stop breathing normally
A heart attack is when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked. The heart muscle is robbed of its vital blood supply and, if left untreated, will begin to die because it is not getting enough oxygen
Many cardiac arrests in adults happen because of a heart attack. This is because a person who is having a heart attack may develop a dangerous heart rhythm, which can cause a cardiac arrest
Source: British Heart Foundation
In the caption, the 29-year old said: ‘Hello everyone. Big thanks for your sweet and amazing greetings and messages from all around the world. It means a lot to me and my family.
‘I’m fine – under the circumstances. I still have to go through some examinations at the hospital, but I feel okay.
‘Now, I will cheer on the boys on the Denmark team in the next matches. Play for all of Denmark. Best, Christian’.
On Monday, Eriksen thanked fans for their support and concern, and vowed to get to the bottom of why he experienced such a sudden and serious health emergency in a short statement released to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport via his agent.
Eriksen’s statement read: ‘Thank you, I won’t give up. I feel better now – but I want to understand what’s happened.
‘I want to say thank you all for what you did for me.’
Eriksen has been in contact with both his Danish and Inter Milan team-mates on FaceTime calls and has been said to be joking: ‘I think you’re feeling worse than I am!’
The former Spurs midfielder also suggested he would be ‘ready to train’ now, just two days on from his collapse.
Eriksen remains in hospital in Copenhagen with his wife Sabrina and parents, father Thomas and mother Dorthe at his bedside.
Captain Simon Kjaer and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel have visited their team-mate in hospital.
The 29-year-old Inter Milan star has been joined by his wife family at his hospital bedside
‘Now he just has to rest, with him are his wife and parents,’ Eriksen’s agent said.
‘He will remain under observation. But in any case he wants to cheer on his team-mates against Belgium.’
Eriksen’s picture comes just a day after some of his team-mates spoke for the first time about the harrowing incident in Copenhagen on Saturday.
Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg said his midfield colleague’s ‘eyes were white’ on the pitch while Barcleona’s Martin Braithwaite added: ‘We were about to lose a friend and a team-mate’.
Hojbjerg, Braithwaite and Leicester City goalkeeper Schmeichel all spoke on Monday morning at a press conference – the first time any of Eriksen’s Denmark team-mates have appeared publicly since Saturday’s game.
Schmeichel said: ‘I have chosen to say to myself that this has had a happy ending – it’s not the end yet, but it could have been so much worse.
‘I am grateful to be part of a team that has stood together as much as we have done. And I’m grateful Christian’s still here.
‘I tried to imagine if it was me who was lying there. I knew Christian’s wife, children, and parents were there, so at one point I tried to look for them. It is an inhuman situation for them to go through.’
Kasper Schmeichel (left), Martin Braithwaite (second right) and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (right) all spoke emotionally on their team-mate in the aftermath of Saturday’s incident
Braithwaite added: ‘We were all about to lose a friend and a team-mate. I do not remember exactly what I said in the prayer. But it has strengthened my faith, that’s for sure.’
Hojbjerg said: ‘I saw Christian lying there and looking towards the field. His eyes were white and I thought it looked very strange. I saw Simon Kjaer rush off, and then you start thinking what it is. I walked slowly across the bench.
‘More and more first aiders came over, and I could see Simon waving his arms. I stood for a long time with the coaches and talked, and I could see that there are some arms that move with the first aid. That was creepy.’
In a video call from Eriksen to the team Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand said the 29-year-old Inter Milan midfielder reassured the group that he was ‘more concerned’ about them.
Hjulmand said: ‘Christian was concerned about us and his family. He said, “I don’t remember much, I’m more concerned about how you guys are doing. I think you are feeling worse than I am. I feel as if I’m about to go training now, boys”.
The players were clearly devastated but were made to return to finish the Finland match
‘That’s typical Christian. He’s a hell of a player, but what a person he is as well.
‘He would like us to play. It was good to see him smile and we will try to get ourselves together and play for Christian.
‘We will try to establish normality as much as possible. Maybe, for some, the time is too short to play football again, but maybe we can use it as a force to get together.’
Denmark’s team doctor Morten Boesen confirmed on Sunday: ‘He was gone.
‘We did cardiac resuscitation, it was cardiac arrest. How close were we? I don’t know. We got him back after one defib so that’s quite fast. We don’t have an explanation why it happened.’
Denmark must now prepare for their second game of the Euros against Belgium at the same venue on Thursday, although Hjulmand said that speaking to Eriksen via videolink had helped his players.
It comes after Sportsmail exclusively revealed that UEFA reminded their television directors to cut away from potentially serious injuries after Eriksen’s cardiac arrest.
Many complained television coverage of Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest was too intrusive
Sportsmail understands that officials made their feelings clear to in-house broadcasters after many complained that coverage of the incident was too intrusive.
They were reminded to use common sense in future and to go to a wide shot.
Italy stars could also be asked to take basic first-aid courses during Euro 2020 after Eriksen collapsed.
After watching the scenes from Copenhagen, Italian FA chief Gabriele Gravina intends to roll out mandatory first-aid courses across the game – starting with Roberto Mancini’s national side.
‘We will do an in-depth study of what happened but we will also look at another factor – quick and effective first aid on the pitch,’ said Gravina.
‘We are working on developing these courses in time for when our clubs return for pre-season. We plan to start during the national team’s training camp.’
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