Euro 2020: England Tops Croatia; Eriksen ‘Was Gone,’ Doctor Says

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Credit…Mads Claus Rasmussen/EPA, via Shutterstock

Denmark’s team doctor said Christian Eriksen went into cardiac arrest during a game at Euro 2020 on Saturday and that “he was gone” before lifesaving treatment on the field resuscitated him.

The doctor, Morten Boesen, led the work in giving Eriksen cardiopulmonary resuscitation after he collapsed during Denmark’s European Championship game against Finland.

“He was gone. And we did cardiac resuscitation. And it was cardiac arrest,” Boesen said in a videoconference with reporters. “How close were we? I don’t know. We got him back after one defib. That’s quite fast.”

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It remained unclear what caused Eriksen to collapse just before halftime, and Boesen, noting he is not a cardiologist, declined to speculate in any way.

Eriksen remains in a Copenhagen hospital in stable condition, but Denmark’s coach, Kasper Hjulmand, said he had spoken to Eriksen on a video chat. It was, the coach said, “good to see him smile.”

“He said, ‘I don’t remember much but I’m more concerned about you guys; how are you doing?’” Hjulmand said. “That’s typical Christian.”

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The decision to restart the game came under heavy criticism in Denmark, including from former members of the team. The former goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, the father of the team’s current starter Kaspar Schmeichel, called it “ridiculous” to continue the match under the circumstances.

But Hjulmand said the team had agreed to play rather than accept an option that they considered even worse: to go home, and then return on Sunday and try to complete the game.

Hjulmand said his players are now determined to return to the field. Denmark is scheduled to face Belgium in Copenhagen on Thursday, and Eriksen, the coach said, “would like for us to play.”

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He also said Denmark’s players would return to training on Monday.

“We are trying to get back to some normality tomorrow,” Hjulmand said. “That is completely in line with what the psychologists are saying, and the way I want to try to lead this group forward.”

Credit…Justin Tallis/Pool, via Reuters

England 1, Croatia 0

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England won its opening game at the European Championship for the first time on Sunday, riding a fast start in the opening minutes and a second-half goal by Raheem Sterling to a 1-0 victory over Croatia under a blazing summer sun at London’s Wembley Stadium.

The day had begun with questions about a curious lineup put out by England’s manager, Gareth Southgate, and concerns that the crowd at London’s Wembley Stadium might boo the home team when it took a knee for social justice right before kickoff.

In each case, the fears did not come to pass. The fans cheered their team, which has said it will continue the gesture before every game, and Southgate’s choices — a defender starting on the wrong side, a young and inexperienced midfield — were not an issue. Kieran Tripper, the flip-flopped back, held his own against the talented (but creaky) Croatian attack, and Kalvin Phillips, the Leeds midfielder inserted into the heart of the team, set up Sterling’s goal.

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The lead arrived in the 57th minute, started in England’s half by Kyle Walker, who fed Phillips. Sterling, lying deep in the center watching the play develop, sprinted into a gap and met Phillips’s pass just ahead of a chasing midfielder, a late-arriving defender and a charging goalkeeper.

“I always said to myself if I come here, growing up two minutes down the road, I’ve got to score,” Sterling said. “It’s a great feeling doing it.”

The win sent England, for now, to the top of its first-round group. And it will give the team a surge of energy and optimism that things will only get better in coming games against Scotland (on Friday) and the Czech Republic (June 22).

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England expects to play most of its games in the tournament at Wembley, but whether it will be back for the semifinals and final at the stadium next month will be determined by more efforts like Sunday’s.

Full time

England 1, Croatia 0. Their first win, ever, in their opening match at a Euros. Please drive home safely.

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90’

Four minutes of added time are announced after a brief scare for Bellingham, who was hurt in a head-to-head collision. He stays on, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin comes on for Sterling, the goal-scorer, instead.

England is almost there now …..

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82’

Kane, likely still stinging from his brush with the goal post, is off, replaced by 17-year-old Jude Bellingham. The Dortmund player is the youngest player to appear in the tournament.

Credit…Pool photo by Justin Tallis

66’

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The yellow cards are starting to add up in Croatia’s center. Brozovic picked one up just now, joining Kovacic and Caleta-Car in the referee’s notebook.

UPDATE: Brozovic’s won’t be a problem today; he’s just been subbed off by Nikola Vlasic.

Foden goes off, for Rashford, in the same break. That’ll bring some pace to England’s attack as Croatia tires in the blistering sun.

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62’

Kane went down by the right post after slamming into it after a brave effort on goal. Treated, he’s up now.

Credit…Catherine Ivill/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

57’

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GOAL! There’s the breakthrough.

Kyle Walker gets it started from his own half, threading a pass to Phillips pushing up on the right. He cuts left, look up and picks out Sterling, who had dashed in after hanging back in midfield as the play developed. The pass was inch-perfect, and he splits the defense and bangs it past the goalkeeper.

England, 1-0.

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46’

Rory Smith checks in from Wembley as the second half resumes:

For 20 minutes, England looked just like the country hoped it could be. Despite the apparent cautiousness in his selection, Gareth Southgate’s team tore into Croatia. Phil Foden hit the post. Raheem Sterling had to be denied at the last moment. Kalvin Phillips drew a fine save from distance.

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Croatia — World Cup finalists three years ago, but now an aging, slightly creaking team — could not cope. This was what England had demanded of Southgate this summer: not necessarily victory, not necessarily ultimate triumph, but fun and purpose and adventure. He has a wealth of young attacking talent, after all; it is incumbent on him to find a way to get the best out of it.

Credit…Pool photo by Justin Tallis

As the half wore on, though, the initial energy seemed to fizzle and sputter and, eventually, die out. Croatia held firm, scrapping for territory and possession and control of the rhythm, drawing England into an encounter that suits an older, more experienced side, not one that relies on the brio of youth.

The irony to this game is that it may, in fact, be better not to win it: topping the group, because of the vagaries of the draw, likely means a harder opponent in the last 16 than finishing second in the group. But neither team will want to lose it, either: that would be to take a step too close to the brink. So England must find a way to shake Croatia from its happy meandering, and Croatia must summon the energy to resist the bursts that will come from the host, especially once Southgate turns to his substitutes for reinforcements.

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The Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasília, where the opening game will (probably? hopefully?) be played on Sunday.
Credit…Buda Mendes/Getty Images

By the standard of this year’s Copa America, it was perfectly normal that Venezuela Coach Jose Peseiro had no idea which players he would start in its opening game against Brazil on Sunday. One probably would not blame Peseiro if he did not even know the names of some of the players who might be available to run out for Venezuela at the Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasília. The Copa América, already on its third host nation, is now wrestling with yet another crisis.

The latest? Venezuela was forced to fly out 14 reserve players and add another who plays his club soccer in Brazil to its roster on Saturday after at least eight players and four members of the team’s delegation tested positive for the coronavirus at the team’s training camp.

“Without the time to see players, without the time for games, the pandemic has changed everything,” Peseiro said at a news conference that was delayed on Saturday after he waited for his roster reinforcements to arrive on a charter flight from Caracas.

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Credit…Nelson Almeida/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The spate of positive tests — Bolivia has had three players test positive, according to its federation — and the chaos surrounding Venezuela’s roster are only the latest blows for this year’s Copa América, South America’s premier national team competition.

Organizers were forced to move the event to Brazil less than two weeks before it was scheduled to begin after neighboring Argentina said it could not be played because of a spike in coronavirus cases there. (A month earlier, Argentina’s co-host, Colombia, was dropped because of social unrest there.)

The move to Brazil, which has the world’s second-highest death toll from the virus after the United States, stunned many, including many of the Brazil players who will be trying to defend the title they won on home soil in 2019.

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Brazil’s players issued a statement saying they were angered by the circumstances around which the tournament was switched to Brazil — they even briefly considered a boycott, they said — but that they were determined to do the job of representing the country. Opposition politicians and activists tried — and failed — to get a Supreme Court ruling to cancel the tournament, which opponents have derided as the “championship of death.”

Credit…Lucas Figueiredo/CBF, via EPA, via Shutterstock

The biggest advocate for the competition, and the main reason it is being played in Brazil, is the country’s populist president Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro’s critics blame his cavalier approach to controlling the coronavirus — he has eschewed rules on social distancing, for instance — for Brazil’s plight. But Bolsonaro has often used soccer, and the national team in particular, as a vehicle to connect with his base.

His supporters frequently wear the canary yellow shirts of the five-time world champions when they take to the street in demonstrations of support for Bolsonaro, and he took the field with the team when Brazil lifted its last Copa America title. Several prominent Brazilian players have expressed support for his campaigns in the past.

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But the choice of Brasília for the opening game serves as a reminder of another Brazilian folly. The stadium, built at a cost of close to $1 billion for the 2014 World Cup, has been little used since then. At one point, it served as a bus depot.

Halftime

There’s the whistle for the break. Time for a rethink? Maybe not. England has been better today, and they will take encouragement from that. But it doesn’t put the ball in the net. Croatia absorbed all the early pressure and seemed to be hitting its stride in the latter stages of the half.

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Credit…Justin Tallis/Pool, via Reuters

44’

Marcus Rashford might offer some pace and Jack Grealish might bring some creative spark/energy if Southgate is looking for a change at halftime. So would Jadon Sancho, but the manager has left him out today.

34’

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Mark it: It took 34 minutes, but ESPN’s Ian Darke has finally rolled out the “he’s hoping blonds have more fun line” as the camera lingers on a close-up of Foden’s new haircut.

Credit…Pool photo by Frank Augstein

27’

That Perisic moonshot over the bar these aside, Croatia is starting to look very much like Croatia in the last few minutes.

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20’

England, and Sterling in particular, has gotten behind Croatia’s back line a few times in the first half. The finishing hasn’t been there — a stumble here, a bobble there, a tad too long on the ball over there — but the chances, taken together, should be setting off alarm bells for Croatia.

It feels like it’s just a matter of time before they get it wrong, or England gets it right.

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Credit…Pool photo by Laurence Griffiths

10’

Now it’s Phillips taking a rip through traffic but Livakovic dives to punch it away. Heavy, heavy pressure from England so far, including a real hunger to press and win back the ball any time they lose it.

6’

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Foden, looking like Paul Gascoigne with more than his platinum hair just there, hits the post. The game is alive.

Raheem Sterling is sprung by Mount a few minutes later but gets smothered at the near post. England is on the hunt.

Credit…Pool photo by Andy Rain

1’

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England takes the knee before kickoff, just as it said it would, and the cheers outstrip the boos, just as they hoped they would.

The gesture, a (nonpolitical, the players say) signal of solidarity with social justice efforts and the Black Lives Matter movement, has been a staple of European games for a year. But opinions on it at matches vary widely, especially among the teams in this tournament. Croatia, for example, stood for the brief moments when England kneeled.

pregame II

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Capacity at 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium will be limited to 25 percent today, so 22,500 fans. Most of them don’t really know what Southgate is thinking with his lineup, either. But for now they do not care. The teams have emerged from the tunnel.

Credit…Pool photo by Frank Augstein

PREGAME

Rory Smith weighs in on England’s team:

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Now, then, we know why Gareth Southgate wanted four right backs in his England squad for this tournament: he intended to play one of them at left back.

Such is the character of any and all discussions around the England team that, regardless of what team Southgate picked for his country’s opening game against Croatia, at least one selection would have been dressed up as brave or risky or controversial, or one omission seen as unwarranted or ill-judged or outrageous.

He could have selected Jack Grealish, but he might have had to leave out Declan Rice. He could have picked Jadon Sancho, but that would have meant no Raheem Sterling. Such is the quality of his resources (in certain areas), he cannot lose. But such is the quality of his alternatives that he cannot win, either.

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In the end, Southgate’s big risk was his refusal to take a risk. Both Rice and Kalvin Phillips start, suggesting a slightly more cautious approach than perhaps some observers have demanded. More curiously, neither of his specialist left backs were picked: Luke Shaw starts on the bench; Ben Chilwell gets the day off. In their stead comes Kieran Trippier, the Atlético Madrid right back, playing out of position.

The margins are always fine for an England coach. A judgment call can easily become an irrecoverable flaw. This game will not define England’s tournament; who plays at left back in the opening game will certainly not guarantee either success or failure in July. It may, though, set the tone, for good or for bad. Southgate will hope it is the former.

Credit…Glyn Kirk/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Croatia’s team contains far fewer surprises and the only real one, the teenager Josko Gvardiol starting at left back, was the result of an injury to the regular there, Borna Barisic. But Gvardiol, 19, doesn’t feel like much of a risk: RB Leipzig just bought him from Dinamo Zagreb and has big plans for him.

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The Croatia attack — Rebic up top, supported by Perisic and Kramaric on the wings and Modric from wherever he chooses to go — can work like a well-oiled machine on its best day.

Christian Eriksen was in “stable” condition in a Copenhagen hospital, Denmark’s soccer federation said in a statement on Sunday, a day after he collapsed and received life-saving medical treatment on the field during a Euro 2020 match against Finland.

Eriksen had “sent his greetings to his teammates,” the statement said, but remain in the hospital for further examination.

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The 29-year-old Eriksen is being treated at Rigshospitalet, which sits less than a mile away from Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, where the game was played.

Eriksen, an attacking midfielder and the creative engine of Denmark’s team, suddenly stumbled and collapsed to the turf in the 42nd minute of a game against Finland on Sunday.

Medical teams, summoned urgently by teammates and opponents who immediately sensed the severity of his condition, worked quickly to stabilize Eriksen on the grass. They continued for 20 minutes as the stunned crowd at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium and a global television audience looked on.

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In an effort to protect Eriksen, his teammates and members of Denmark’s staff formed a circle around him to shield him, and the medics, as they worked. Photographs of Eriksen leaving on a stretcher showed him awake.

Credit…Pool photo by Friedemann Vogel

The match was briefly suspended but resumed about 90 minutes later — with the consent of players on both teams, and only after the Danes had received word on Eriksen’s improved condition. Finland won, 1-0.

Not everyone was able to continue. A few players were in tears as they warmed up for the resumption of play. Not all of them could complete the game, Denmark’s coach, Kasper Hjulmand, said afterward.

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“It’s a traumatic experience,” Hjulmand said. “The attitude was, ‘Let’s go out and try to do what we can.’ And then we talked about allowing to have all these feelings. And it was OK to say no if they weren’t able to play. Some of them said that they wanted to try. And I said no matter what feelings they had, it was all OK. You had to allow yourself to try to play the game if you felt like it. And you had to dare to show happy emotions. But it was OK to say no. Because some of them they weren’t able to, they weren’t able to play.”

Hjulmand told reporters that his team would be provided counseling and any other assistance it needs as it tries to navigate the rest of the tournament.

“We will spend the next few days processing this as best we can,” Hjulmand said.

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Danish players and staff members formed a circle to shield the medics working on Christian Eriksen.
Credit…Pool photo by Friedemann Vogel

Only once the game, the last thing on their minds, had finished could Christian Eriksen’s traumatized Denmark teammates start to come to terms with the toll of what they had been through.

In the glare of the news media, Kasper Hjulmand, the coach, struggled to hold back tears. In the privacy of the locker room, his players sat and held one another. Some among their number were, Hjulmand said, “completely emotionally finished” by it all: the scene of their fallen teammate on the grass, their thoughts of what could have been, the decision to resume the match.

By that stage, they knew that their worst fears had not been realized. Earlier, the Danish squad had agreed, as they had waited inside the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, that they would not make a decision on anything until they had more details of Eriksen’s condition.

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Though it did not seem so at the time, that came — thankfully — briskly. Within an hour or so of watching Eriksen collapse on the field, of rushing to his side, of shielding him from the cameras, a message came through from the city’s Rigshospitalet, not far from the stadium, that Eriksen was conscious. He was talking to his partner and to his father, his agent confirmed to Danish national radio.

UEFA, then, offered the players a choice: they could either complete their first game of Euro 2020 against Finland on Saturday night, or resume it on Sunday afternoon. They had decided, Hjulmand said, “to get it over with.

“They could not imagine not being able to sleep tonight and to have to get on a bus tomorrow and play again,” he said.

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Not all of them had felt ready. Simon Kjaer, the captain and a close friend of Eriksen, had been one of the first to reach him after he slumped to the ground. He had placed him in the recovery position, to prevent him swallowing his tongue, and then arranged the rest of the squad to form a protective circle around Eriksen as the stadium’s medical team — as well as Denmark’s national team doctor, Morten Boesen — had tended to him on the field.

Credit…Wolfgang Rattay/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Many of the players had turned away, but they knew how urgent it was: Boesen confirmed that, after he had arrived, Eriksen had stopped breathing, and his heart had stopped beating. “When I got there, he was breathing and I could feel his pulse,” he said. “Suddenly that changed.”

Even once the news that his condition was stable had come through, Kjaer did not feel able to continue. He had been one of the first to comfort Sabrina Kvist Jensen, Eriksen’s partner, too. “Simon was deeply, deeply affected,” Hjulmand said. “He was in doubt whether he could continue, and gave it a shot, but it could not be done.” Denmark has said it will make counseling available to those players who feel they need it.

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Though the trauma was most clearly felt by those closest to Eriksen, of course, the shock at seeing him collapse reverberated throughout the tournament. Roberto Martínez, the Belgium coach, admitted his team — scheduled to play its opening match only an hour after the Denmark game — had not wanted to “talk about football” as they waited desperately for news of a player many of his squad has called a teammate at club level. Romelu Lukaku, who dedicated the first of Belgium’s three goals against Russia to Eriksen, said he had been in tears.

Credit…Anton Vaganov/Pool, via Reuters

England’s squad, watching as it waited for its first game today, has plenty of links to Eriksen — Harry Kane, the captain, played alongside him at Tottenham — and had watched in anguish, too. In Italy, where Eriksen plays for Inter Milan, his employers had been relieved to receive a message to the squad’s WhatsApp group from Eriksen, confirming that he was awake. These are just the first steps, though. For his teammates, his friends, and more than anything else for Eriksen himself, there is a long road ahead.

Harry Kane, captain of England (today) and Spurs (for the moment).
Credit…Pool photo by Kevin Quigley

LONDON — There are a lot of things that everybody knows about Harry Kane. First and foremost, there is the fact that he is the captain of England’s national soccer team, a status that bestows upon its bearer the sort of profile unavailable to most athletes, particularly in tournament years. It is part-of-the-furniture fame, royal family fame. Everyone has heard of Harry Kane.

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Then there are the goals. Harry Kane scores goals with startling efficiency. He scores goals with both feet and with his head. He scores goals from close range and from long distance, for good teams and bad. He does not really seem to be subject to things like form or confidence. He simply started scoring goals seven years ago and never stopped.

He has scored so many that he is seventh on the list of the Premier League’s career top scorers; with a fair wind, he will be third next year at this time and within touching distance of the record-holder, Alan Shearer, not long after he turns 30. What colors he will be wearing as he does so is anyone’s guess. Everyone has known for some time, of course, that Harry Kane is one of Tottenham’s own, the star of the team he supported as a child. But over the last few weeks, a string of interviews has made it clear that, in Harry Kane’s mind, that might have to change this summer.

But that is where the knowledge stops. Harry Kane is captain of England, he scores a lot of goals and he is about to star in his very own transfer saga. Beyond that, Harry Kane is something of an enigma. It is a neat trick: for a player of his status, and an athlete of his generation, to be as well known as he is and yet not well known at all.

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This spring, long before he got ready to lead England against Croatia on Sunday, to attempt (again) to claim his first trophy with England, Kane sat down with Rory Smith of The Times to discuss, well, Harry Kane.

What Rory found is that there are a lot of things everyone knows about Harry Kane. But knowing who he is, or what he is like, is not one of them.

Daler Kuzyayev, left, of Russia and Timothy Castagne of Belgium left Saturday’s match in the first half after a clash of heads.
Credit…Pool photo by Anton Vaganov

Belgium Coach Roberto Martinez said Saturday that defender Timothy Castagne will miss the rest of the tournament after fracturing his right eye socket during a 3-0 victory over Russia on Saturday in St. Petersburg.

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Castagne, who plays for Leicester City in England’s Premier League, was substituted in the 27th minute Saturday after a violent head-to-head collision with Russia midfielder Daler Kuzyaev. Kuzyaev left the game three minutes later. The players collided while challenging for the ball.

The injury sounded eerily similar to the one that kept Belgium’s midfield playmaker Kevin De Bruyne out of the Russia game. De Bruyne has been training alone after having an operation to repair a fractured nose and eye socket sustained in a collision with an opponent in the Champions League final last month.

De Bruyne was left out of the Russia game but Martinez said last week that he expected him to return to full training before Belgium’s second game.

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Martinez said an ankle injury sustained by the veteran defender Jan Vertonghen against Russia was less serious, a contention backed up by the player himself.

“I caught my studs in the pitch,” Vertonghen said after the match. “I’ve got a history of ankle injuries, so that’s why I always tape my ankles well. It’s going to be fine.”

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