Christian Eriksen's return from near death to World Cup in 18 months
Christian Eriksen’s miracle return has seen him go from near death at the Euros to a World Cup in just 18 months… after being forced to leave Inter Milan, the Dane is now a star for Manchester United and can inspire his country in Qatar
- Christian Eriksen has made a miraculous recovery from a cardiac arrest in 2021
- The Denmark star collapsed on the pitch while playing at the delayed Euro 2020
- He was resuscitated on the pitch and recovered, but was forced to leave Inter Milan by Serie A rules prohibited the use of a cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
- Attacking midfielder Eriksen returned to the Premier League in January this year
- After impressing with the Bees, the 30-year-old is now starring with Man United
- The 117-cap international is hoping to inspire his side at the Qatar World Cup
- Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates
In the early evening of June 12, 2021, Christian Eriksen was just happy to be alive. And lucky.
The Dane suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch while playing for his country against Finland in a European Championship group stage match, suddenly collapsing to the floor with no one around him.
Instantly it became clear how serious the incident was. He, essentially, died on the pitch and was brought back to life thanks to rapid and urgent resuscitation with the use of a defibrillator.
Not many would have predicted that Eriksen would be going to the Qatar World Cup later this month. And yet he will, hoping to inspire his country, which is among the dark horses for the competition.
From being forced out at Inter Milan to now starring for Manchester United, via a stellar six-month spell at Brentford, it’s been a hell of a journey for the 30-year-old.
Below, Sportsmail‘s Max Mathews looks at how Eriksen has made a miracle return from near death to the biggest tournament in the world in just 18 months.
In the early evening of June 12, 2021, Christian Eriksen was just happy to be alive – and lucky
The Danish attacking midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch at the Euros in June 2021
That fateful day in June
What could have been the end was, eventually, the beginning of a long and arduous comeback to the summit of football.
His brave team-mates instantly surrounded him to prevent prying cameras seeing their stricken friend, captain Simon Kjaer and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel embracing Eriksen’s tearful partner Sabrina Kvist Jensen in a powerful moment.
The world of football united, with fans of all teams singing supportive songs, displaying posters wishing him well and giant shirts with his name brought onto the pitch before games at the tournament.
Denmark captain Simon Kjaer and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (second right) embraced Eriksen’s tearful partner Sabrina Kvist Jensen (second left) in a powerful, emotional moment
The world of football united in support of Eriksen at the European Championship tournament
Supporters of all countries chanted songs and held up banners in support of the stricken star
After an operation, he visited his Denmark team-mates at their Helsingor camp before going back home to his family.
His side, driven by his words, reached the semi-final, where they were unlucky to exit the tournament after a late, controversial penalty for England.
Thanks to the quick medical attention he received, Eriksen made a full recovery and wears an Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) device which allows him not only to continue living, but, it transpires, to play top-level football well.
In Qatar, Eriksen will be inspiring them from the pitch rather than the sidelines as they attempt to go one better.
The end of his career?
After the disappointment of losing the 2019 Champions League final against Liverpool, Eriksen’s contract ticked down into its final year as he began the 2019-20 campaign.
The All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur documentary showed the deterioration of the symbiotic relationship between club and player, with chairman Daniel Levy bemoaning the silence from the Eriksen camp, advised by agent Martin Schoots.
Eriksen had a couple of frosty conversations with Levy and, with just six months left on his contract and knowing he could leave for free at the end of the season, Spurs let him go to Inter Milan.
When Eriksen was released by Inter Milan, it appeared to be the end of his top-level career
A disappointing first season, exacerbated by what team-mate Romelu Lukaku hinted was language issues, was behind him in a stellar second season which saw him play 34 times in all competitions and scoring four goals as Inter won the Scudetto.
But strict rules in Italy mean anyone fitted with an ICD cannot play in Italy’s top-flight Serie A, effectively ending his Inter career.
In December 2021, as he trained with his youth academy team OB in Denmark around six months after his collapse, the Nerazzurri confirmed the termination of his contract. Many questioned if it would be the last time he represented a big club.
Rebuilding in west London
No ‘big club’ would be willing to take a chance on the player, and in the end, it was Brentford who chanced their arm.
‘Just a bus stop in Hounslow,’ as Bees manager Thomas Frank jokingly acknowledged, a north-west London side with no genuine rivals and in their first ever season in the Premier League, it seemed an odd move.
On the other hand, it was weirdly perfect for both.
But his move to promoted north-west London side proved weirdly perfect for both parties
Brentford got an international standard midfield playmaker, a fine professional and leader off the pitch, a crackling hub of creativity to help get the most out of those around him and a set-piece king, plus the exposure and hype of a big-name signing.
Eriksen got time and patience to recover, a sizeable Danish contingent of players and boss Frank to help him settle in, love from the fans, guaranteed game time when fully fit and the creative freedom to express himself.
That reflected in the statistics, with only Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard creating more chances in the Premier League between Eriksen’s debut and the end of the campaign.
The Bees, who had lost nine league games in 11 across December to February, then – inspired by their new star man – went on a run of seven wins in their last 11 matches to steer clear of relegation worries and finish a very creditable 13th.
It was a very happy marriage. The only trouble? He only signed a six-month contract in January, and was now available on a free transfer…
His showings with Thomas Frank’s Bees earned him a move to Manchester United this summer
Stepping up with United
With Eriksen now back in great condition and showing his abilities every week in the Premier League, top clubs were queueing up to snap him up for nothing.
Brentford were desperate to keep him and made him likely the biggest contract offer in their history, but the allure of being part of new manager Erik ten Hag’s rebuild at Manchester United was too good an opportunity to pass up.
He signed a three-year deal, taking the No 14 shirt, and now in November of his first season at Old Trafford has already played in all but one of United’s league games, recording three assists, and cementing his spot in Ten Hag’s strongest XI.
Gone is the prosaic, limited midfield pivot of Fred and Scott McTominay and in its place a solid, technical line-up of Eriksen, Casemiro at the base and Bruno Fernandes.
That, in the short term, is the triumvirate to take United’s midfield forward. And regular game time will only help Eriksen on the international stage in Qatar.
United were thrashed 4-0 by Eriksen’s former club Brentford in the second game of the season
Back in business with Denmark
His individual return to international football could hardly have gone better. On March 26, Eriksen came on as a half-time substitute against Holland, scoring two minutes after his introduction.
This year he’s played eight times for Kasper Hjulmand’s side, scoring three times, including a 90-minute masterclass in a 2-0 win against world champions France in their final match before the World Cup.
It is only recently that Eriksen lay prone on the Parken Stadium pitch in Copenhagen. But now, given how he’s playing for club and country, that feels a long way behind him too – and no one in football would begrudge him that.
But since then the 30-year-old has stepped up again brilliantly for both club and his country
Eriksen starred as Denmark beat heavyweights France in their last game before the World Cup
DENMARK – World Cup fact file
Who’s the manager?
Kasper Hjulmand – It felt like the Danes’ inspirational coach became the unofficial leader of the country last year when Eriksen suffered his shocking cardiac arrest.
Hjulmand led with such authority and strength during that horrific period and then had the ability to dust his team down and lead them to the semi-finals on a wave of emotion – where they lost against England following a controversial penalty.
His playing career ended when he was just 26 after nine knee operations but he was soon making a name for himself on the touchline and now he’s wanted by a string of top clubs around Europe.
It felt like Danish coach Kasper Hjulmand became the unofficial leader of the country last year
How did they qualify?
Denmark were run close by Scotland in Group F but always kept Steve Clarke’s side at arm’s length and secured top spot with nine wins from 10, 30 goals scored and just three conceded.
Their qualifying campaign included an 8-0 demolition of Moldova in Herning, while a 4-0 win away in Austria was the pick of their results. Scotland got the better of them at Hampden in November, but that was the only blip.
Denmark will be looking to get off to a good start with a winnable-looking game against Tunisia in Al-Rayyan on November 22 kicking off the group.
They meet France on the 26th in Doha before what they hope will be the match to seal qualification against Australia in Al-Wakrah on November 30.
Man United midfielder Eriksen is set-piece taker and creative heartbeat of his national side
Denmark have an up-and-down history at the World Cup, reaching the knockout stages of four of the five tournaments they have qualified for, but missing out completely in 1990, 1994, 2006, and 2014.
Three round-of-16 finishes – and a quarter-final in 1998 – are the best Denmark have mustered, although they won the Euros in 1992. A potential dark horse.
Odds of winning the trophy: 28-1
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