Every club needs defibrillator – coach who raised funds after Eriksen collapse

A football coach has said “every club should have a defibrillator” after he and his son raised funds to install 20 machines at their local club following Danish player Christian Eriksen’s collapse in 2021.

Ben Jones, 36, from Cuddington in Cheshire, ran a mile a day for 26 days with his son, Oscar, 10, raising £8,950 for Cuddington and Sandiway Junior Football Club – the club which Mr Jones coaches for.

Their GoFundMe campaign, which happened three years ago, was inspired after Manchester United midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsed in 2021 during the UEFA European Football Championship (Euro) match against Finland and was saved by a defibrillator.

Oscar Jones, 10, who raised more nearly £9,000 to install a defibrillator at his local football club
Oscar Jones, 10, raised more nearly £9,000 to install a defibrillator at his local football club three years ago (Ben Jones)

Mr Eriksen, who also plays for the Denmark national team, will appear at the Euro 2024 in Germany on Sunday in their game against Slovenia.

Mr Jones described the midfielder’s return to the tournament as “bonkers” but said his story allows greater awareness about the importance of defibrillators in publics spaces and that “every club” deserves to have one.

He told the PA news agency: “I would say that out of a really bad situation, the awareness that his situation opened us all up to was huge. It wasn’t ideal what happened to him, but he survived thanks to these defibrillators.

“It’s bonkers three years ago he was technically dead. You fast forward to now and he’s still playing; it’s an incredible story really.

“This is why I can’t push enough how important defibrillators are. Not only did it save his life, it saved his career as well.”

Mr Jones said he was taken aback after Oscar asked about having defibrillators at their local football club.

“We watched the match when (Eriksen) went down,” he said.

“Oscar, who was only seven at the time, asked, ‘what happens if that happens to one of our players in our team?'”

Following the Danish player’s collapse, nearly £3 million has been raised for defibrillators, according to GoFundMe.

The fundraising website also found that fundraisers mentioning the word “defibrillator” have risen more than 160% since 2020.

Mr Jones, who coaches the under 10s team at Cuddington and Sandiway football club, said the need for defibrillators is taken “more seriously” than three years ago.

“It’s huge, because not only are your football players at risk, it’s all to do with grandparents, parents. So each defibrillator can cover hundreds of people,” he said.

Young boy runs in the rain for fundraiser
Oscar was just seven-years-old when he ran one mile for 26 days to raise money for a defibrillator for his local football club (Ben Jones/PA)

“One of them was very close to being used.

“For me, it’s brilliant because it’s obvious that it’s being taken a lot more seriously. You do see a lot more defibrillators at football clubs, mobile ones, ones on the side of buildings.”

The club’s nearest defibrillator used to be half a mile away from the grounds, but Mr Jones said having machines nearby is “massively important” as “anyone can be affected by cardiac arrest”.

He added awareness about defibrillators after Mr Eriksen’s collapse “inspired people to get training” to operate the machine.

He said: “The one thing that I’ve always said about it is these machines are very easy to use.

“They tell you what to do. You open them up and it starts talking to you straight away, so it’s a matter of having the confidence to do it and I’m sure the majority of people will have the confidence if they ever need to do it.”

The coach has urged other grassroots and local clubs to make it their priority to have a defibrillator.

“The biggest message is always that a defibrillator has got to be one of the biggest priorities on your kit list,” he added.

“I believe that every club should have (a defibrillator). They’re not that expensive in the grand scheme of things.

“You can quite easily raise the funds and you can save a life because of it. You hope that you never have to use them, but they’re there.”