Kasper Schmeichel has spoken about the dramatic moment Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch during a Euro 2020 match in a new ITV documentary.
The Leicester City goalkeeper features in Kasper Schmeichel – Keeping The Faith, which airs on ITV4 at 10pm on January 11th. The show is part of the Against The Odds series, produced by ITV and funded by Coral, which has also featured jockey Hollie Doyle and darts world champion Gerwyn Price telling their stories.
As well as the Danish stopper, the documentary features contributions from current Leicester manager Brendan Rogers, Kasper’s title-winning captain Wes Morgan, and his father, Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel.
Talking about the moments after Christian Eriksen’s on-pitch collapse while Denmark played Finland at Euro 2020, he says: “We were in the same boat as everybody, We didn’t know any more than anyone else – we just had a front row seat to it. I knew his family were there, I knew they were sitting not far from it, we didn’t want them to see that. Some of us couldn’t look – I myself, I couldn’t not look. I had to see if he was okay.”
He also talks about how he and Denmark captain Simon Kjaer spoke to him at half time on FaceTime: “Christian had woken up and myself and Simon were able to FaceTime with him in the tunnel and you know, he told us to go and play. Which helped, definitely, but you could see we weren’t ourselves, we were shell-shocked.”
Having won the Premier League with Leicester in 2016 at miraculous reported odds of 5,000 to 1, Kasper says his team’s experience in winning lower leagues was key to lifting the trophy after Tottenham’s attempt to chase down their lead failed.
“The actual process of winning a league isn’t different if you’re in League Two, the Championship or the Premier League. The actual process is the same. I already had done that in League Two and in the Championship, and lots of us had done that in the Championship, and so being the leader and being chased, that was always something that I think was quite natural. It comes down to what happens in the dressing room, not what anyone else says or things about us, so the belief was there.”
Kasper was on scene to witness the aftermath of the helicopter crash which killed the club’s chairman Vichai Srivaddannaprabha less than two years later, and he speaks about the moment he ran to the burning wreckage to try to rescue people.
He says: “Horrible, just a horrible night. It’s a night that will stay with me forever. It’s definitely had long-term effects. I got as close as you possibly can, the flames and the heat made it impossible to get inside or anything like that. But I got right up to the helicopter and I don’t know who but someone pulled me away and started trying to clear the area because we didn’t know what was going to happen, whether it was going to explode more or anything like that. It was quite evident quite quickly when you saw what happened that there was not any chance of anyone surviving that.”
He also speaks about how he didn’t feel welcome at Leeds United, because his dad Peter is a Manchester United legend. He says: “Every time I meet Leeds fans they all say the same thing, that we welcomed you. They used to sing a song saying that, ‘Your dad’s a **** but we like you.’ That wasn’t particularly welcoming. I met a Leeds fan after leaving and he was a bit annoyed at me for saying I didn’t feel welcome at Leeds and he confronted me about it and I said, I shook his hand and I said, ‘Your dad’s a ****, but I like you. How do you feel?’ He was obviously shocked, he said, well that’s just banter, that’s just terrace banter. I said okay, that’s fine – that’s banter to you, but do you like me calling your father that? And he obviously said no. That’s the thing about football – unfortunately it does also bring out the worst in people. They’ll say anything to put you off.”
Peter Schmeichel says: “The rivalry that we had with Leeds was incredible but that was me for Manchester United, that was completely different. And what’s really disappointing is that the same people cannot separate the two things.”
The ten-part Against The Odds documentary series aims to deliver a unique insight into some of the most inspiring stories focusing on some big names from the world of sport.
The sports stars featured in the series are individuals who have overcome personal adversity or have taken an unconventional route to rise to the top of their respective sports, defying the odds to achieve success. Each episode is fronted by leading members of ITV Sport’s presenting team, including Gabriel Clarke, Mark Pougatch, Ed Chamberlin, Francesca Cumani, Jacqui Oatley and Oli Bell.
Against The Odds is funded by Coral and developed by the7Stars content team, Supernova, with ITV Sport. The series runs from October 2021 until July 2022 on ITV4, ITV Hub and ITV’s main channel.
Future episodes will include fellow riders Guy Disney and Johnny Murtagh, plus a special programme ahead of the Cheltenham festival on the legendary grey racehorse, Desert Orchid, with further names to be announced.
Each episode coincides with major sporting events including The Ashes, the FA Cup, the Six Nations and the Cheltenham Festival. Commercial creative output for the series, including idents and activation is being overseen by DRUM.
As part of the partnership, Coral also receive a full activation package and both ITV and Coral are bringing the show to life across multiple platforms and integration into the real world off-screen. This includes additional behind the scenes footage on Coral’s platforms, in-store promotion and branding plus talent-signed merchandise for competitions.