Christian Eriksen says facing Tottenham on Saturday Night Football will be “special” and there is no risk in his return to football after his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.
The Brentford playmaker spent seven years at Tottenham before joining current Spurs boss Antonio Conte at Inter Milan. Under the Italian, Eriksen helped the club to their first Serie A title since 2010.
Saturday’s meeting with Tottenham, live on Sky Sports, is not just any old reunion with his former club and former boss. It is also the latest milestone in Eriksen’s return to football following his horrifying collapse while playing for Denmark at Euro 2020.
It is an event the 30-year-old is relishing.
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp, Eriksen said: “I can’t wait. It’s going to be special. First of all, it’s just being back playing football, then there’s always the small bits in between of what is the goal. I’m definitely looking forward to Saturday for sure.”
And will he celebrate against his former side if he scored? “Probably not!”
How to follow Brentford vs Tottenham on Sky Sports
Brentford vs Tottenham is live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm; kick-off 5.30pm.
Sky Sports customers can watch in-game clips in the live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app.
Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.
Of course, Eriksen will often be quizzed about the events of June 12 when he suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark’s opening group game against Finland at the Parken Stadium.
Gratefully, he recovered in hospital and received an ICD [implantable cardioverter-defibrillator] which will help to monitor his heart for the remainder of his life.
Speaking about the incident, Eriksen reflected: “I remember getting the throw-in, but obviously I don’t remember falling down. I then woke up with people around me, but I don’t really know what’s happened until I’m in the hospital.
“For me, if there was a risk, I wouldn’t come back. It was that easy. They did all the testing, I went three months without doing anything, just getting the mind and the family [right], getting used to still being here.
“Then the training started, bit by bit, building up slowly, but at the same time, getting control of what I can control and trying to test the heart. I have an ICD, so if anything did happen, I’m safe.
“But in the end, there’s no risk of me going back to play so there’s no reason for me to stop our normal life because there’s not a doctor saying ‘you shouldn’t do it’, then it’s a completely different conversation with my family. But it was ‘good, we can do it, test it out’. All the tests were good and then there was no point of having the thought of not playing again.
“I told Sabrina, my other half, to keep my boots. Even the nurses in the hospital on the first day, I said ‘keep my boots, I won’t need these again’. Then two days after, I changed my mind because the doctor came in and said I could have an ICD and otherwise, there were no limits.
“That changed a bit of the mindset from the days before because the first days were ‘I’m not going to play again, I need to figure out something else and just be a dad’. Then after the news came about the ICD, it didn’t change anything. I couldn’t play in Italy, but otherwise, there were no limits – expect in airports, you have to walk around the scanners.
“Football wise, I’m the same. But mentally, it’s a bit more relaxed and also taking the perspective of ‘am I really anxious about this game or stressed out about this and that’. It really takes everything into perspective that you’re alive, you’re in good health so everything is good, whatever comes at you.”
And now, Brentford is Eriksen’s footballing home. The Premier League newcomers signed the playmaker on a free in January, offering him a six-month contract, adding to the Bees’ strong Danish contingent.
“The club is half Danish by now,” Eriksen joked. “It’s weird though, speaking Danish all day. I haven’t been used to that, only with the national team.
“Really since I had the contact first with Thomas in December, I had a good feeling about getting back on track, Thomas as a manager and the players and how they played. Training by yourself for four months, trying to get fit and be there, but then playing in a Premier League team, I didn’t know it would be that quick to be settled.
“But I am also thankful to the club, the coach and the staff at Brentford. From day one, they’ve been helping, trying to get the best out of me and the best out of the team.”
Eriksen has had quite the impact too. Brentford have won all five games in which Eriksen has started, with the Dane scoring once and providing two assists.
It’s no surprise that Bees fans are keen for the club to sign him on a longer-term deal and Eriksen is keeping all of his options open.
“When I signed here in January, it was actually coming back and showing I was a football player and could play football. There was also the six months of a test trial. By now, it feels good,” he said.
“But for the future, I don’t know. I’m just enjoying the moment, every game is really fun to play in. what happens in the summer will be a decision for me as a footballer and as a family man.
“Everything is open. I’ve been taken good care of at Brentford, they’ve really shown me a lot of love and trying to repay them for what they’ve showed me. Every option is open, either at Brentford or anywhere else.”
The images of Eriksen collapsing at Euro 2020 remain as shocking now, 10 months on, as they did when that unimaginable incident unfolded. Perhaps they always will, particularly to those team-mates, those friends, who saw the near-tragedy unfold in front of their eyes.
Not even the passage of time has made revisiting the harrowing events any easier, which is why Tottenham’s Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who was just yards from Eriksen on that fateful day, does so reluctantly.
Hojbjerg would much prefer to shift the focus onto one of the greatest comeback stories football has ever seen. His team-mate Eriksen has traversed an uncertain road to recovery to reach a destination few dared to dream would ever be possible.
“I’ve said it many times, the main thing is that Christian is with us today,” Hojbjerg said. “That he and his family can have peace with it, that he’s back doing what he loves to do and getting pleasure out of it, and that he and his family can get the peace and comfort they deserve.
“The main thing me for and the players around him is that he is back doing what he loves, that he is here with us today, that his family can have peace in mind and heart and that they can breathe and enjoy Christian playing well on the pitch, that is the most important thing.
“It [scoring on his Denmark return against the Netherlands] almost completed the circle a bit, you could almost put a lid on it. It was beautiful – honestly, it was very beautiful. It was a fantastic goal as well. It was just nice, really good him for, for us.
“The home game we played against Serbia when he scored, the reaction of the crowd was very special. I’m so happy we can enjoy those moments together.
“When it comes down to the game, Christian is a very important player for our country. His qualities are never in doubt, and he has so many which, in the end, help us achieve our ambitions as a country and as a team.
“He is the main focus point. Christian is Christian. Like before, like now. This suits him well; it suits us well. Bless him, I hope he always keeps going like this.”