287 days after collapsing on field, Christian Eriksen scores with first touch for Denmark

Making his international comeback 287 days after he suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch, Denmark star Christian Eriksen scored with his first touch during a friendly match against the Netherlands on Saturday.

Eriksen was introduced as a half-time substitute in Amsterdam. And he made an impact within two minutes by latching on to Andreas Skov Olsen’s low cross inside the box and curling a first-time shot into the top left corner of the Dutch goal. Eriksen was surrounded by his teammates as he celebrated the goal and received huge applause from a packed stadium.

The cardiac arrest

Nine months ago, a scene like this seemed improbable. During Denmark’s Euro 2020 game against Finland, the 30-year-old collapsed on the pitch after suffering a cardiac arrest. His heart had stopped beating and, as per Denmark’s team doctor Morten Boesen, he “was gone”. Morten and his brother Anders, also a doctor, rushed to treat Eriksen. A defibrillator was produced quickly and together with the heart massage given by the Boesen brothers, Eriksen was revived. After spending several days at the hospital, Eriksen was released and was fitted with an Implantable Cardio Defibrillator (ICD).

Uncertain future

At this point, it seemed his football career was over. Eriksen had told the paramedics to keep his boots, saying he ‘wouldn’t need them,’ according to an ESPN report. This possibility looked increasingly likely after Inter, the club was played for back then, released him in December 2021. Rules in Italy forbid professional players to compete with an ICD and with his options very limited, his agent admitted it was tough to predict Eriksen’s future.

The comeback

However, in January, the Dane made a remarkable comeback to football after he was signed by Premier League side Brentford. Eriksen said the ICD was just for ‘protection’ and felt safe to play football again. “It is in because, if anything would happen to me, there is no need for a defibrillator because I will have my own. It is really just extra security. I am more protected here than you guys,” he said during his presentation at Brentford. “And that is how I feel. I feel very protected with it. I feel normal. I don’t feel it in any annoying way. Only going through the airport, I have to go around instead of going through a scanner.”
Even the club’s manager, Thomas Frank said there was ‘zero chance’ something should happen to him. Eriksen played his first match since the incident on February 26 against Newcastle United and was welcomed with rapturous applause.

Instant impact

Following his successful return to football and after clocking sufficient minutes, Eriksen was recalled to the Denmark team last week for friendly matches. His goal against the Netherlands came in a losing cause, with Denmark losing 4-2. But Eriksen looked refreshingly good. Apart from scoring the goal, he also hit the woodwork once.
Eriksen told Dutch TV that he was ’emotional’ to be back. “I was pleased to show I can still play. It feels like I’ve never been away from the team. It was a bit emotional to be back in the national team but I’ve hardly missed any games over the last 10 years so I’m like part of the family.”

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