Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Christian Eriksen: The Calm Before the Storm of His Brentford Debut

Posted on 25 February 2022 by Nat Hayward

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As Christian Eriksen reunited with the English media for the first time since before the collapse many of them would have covered live to the world, he cut instantly through the tension.

He jokes: “What? Is this a big announcement or something?” before recounting the events leading up to and shortly after the cardiac arrest he suffered last summer.

The candidness and composure with which Eriksen, arms folded, talks about the incident that bought him so close to death is startling.

The haunting images beamed onto TV screens across the world on that fateful day in mid-June seem a long way from the relaxed, assured man sitting in front of me.

The instantaneous shock and fear were universal, apart from for the man they were directed towards.

Eriksen did not live those terrifying moments where his teammates shielded his body from the world. Where broadcasters scrambled to say the right things to stunned viewers. Where dread became ubiquitous. As he says he was ‘gone from this world’ for five minutes.

This perhaps explains his equanimity. The whole world was in a state of horror-induced stupor that only really ended when Eriksen regained his consciousness. By that time, he was already back on the journey towards the ‘normality’ he speaks about longing for.

As he says: “I was in hospital and I had an ICD implanted, but otherwise I felt totally normal. That was more the difficult part afterwards, being able to just have a normal life.”

He asserts and reasserts that his family and those closest to him suffered more in the days after his collapse than he did.

The love he has for his family is emphasised by the frequency with which he talks of their unwavering support.

“We have been speaking about everything that happened very clearly, very open and I am loving the support they are giving me. I am happy I am here for them.”

The life of a footballer’s family inevitably involves moving for the job. However, a return to a city as familiar as London is to Eriksen and his girlfriend seems to just make sense, especially after such a traumatic period.

It also aligns with his desire for normality, offering elite level football that was not possible in Milan due to Serie A rules on ICD’s.

He also fields questions on his state of mind and concerns over said ICD.

Some probe for a confession of concern over his return to football, a confession that is not forthcoming. There is a frankness in the way he talks about making his second Premier League debut, a readiness masquerading almost as indifference.

It is initially difficult to wrap my head around the fact he suffered very little after waking up in hospital and was already impatient for a return to football just days later.

“For me, I wanted my life to be normal straight after because I didn’t feel anything from what had happened.”

When I consider the professional reassurances he received, the eagerness makes sense. A man who knows he has stared death in the face knows every day is a bonus.

Every day is a chance to get back to doing what he loves most.

In many ways Brentford needs Eriksen as much as he needs the platform to regain ‘normality’.

After an impressive start the Bees have been sucked towards a relegation battle that seemed unlikely after they beat West Ham away in October to move seventh.

A decisive set piece delivery, or incisive through-ball, both of which Eriksen is more than capable of, could well be the difference maker to keep his new side in the division.

From his perspective, Eriksen has spoken of his desire to make Denmark’s World Cup squad for Qatar this winter.

The familiarity of his surroundings, existing relationship with Thomas Frank and the strong Danish influence on the club make Brentford an ideal place to make that goal reality.

There is also the opportunity to be the team’s star. As one Brentford fan told me: “Eriksen is the first world class player we’ve had.”

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This is a man who has not played a competitive match in eight months but also one who held the Serie A trophy aloft a month earlier. A man with 109 international caps and more Premier League assists than Eric Cantona and Mesut Ozil.

He is an elite level footballer whose elite level mindset has shone through in the way he speaks, his rapid recovery and the fact he finds himself already back at the top level.

When he returns to the pitch, football fans and beyond will all remember that horrible day last summer and share a common relief at this happy ending.

Eriksen however, is one to look forward rather than back.

He will handle the situation with the same calmness and dignity with which he has handled this entire process and focus completely on the thing he does best: playing football.

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