London (AFP) – Christian Eriksen says he knew he would play football again just two days after suffering a cardiac arrest at last year’s Euro 2020 as he starts a new chapter of his career with Brentford.
The Denmark playmaker collapsed on the pitch against Finland in June and on the way to hospital in Copenhagen he told his wife Sabrina that he would probably never play football again.
But the 29-year-old was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and doctors gave him hope he could return to the sport.
Eriksen was unable to continue his career with Inter Milan because rules do not permit footballers fitted with the device to play in Italy but he signed for Premier League side Brentford on the final day of the January transfer window.
Speaking to club media for the first time on Monday, he said: “On the way to the hospital I told Sabrina I may as well leave my boots here.
“It changed two days later. It was in the moment. I recognised what happened to me later on that night and the next few days.
“Then all the tests started and all the knowledge started to come in and all the questions were being asked ‘Can I do this? Can I do that?’ and listen to the doctors.”
Eriksen, who has signed a contract until the end of the season, said he had many tests to assess how his heart was reacting to physical training but the results were positive.
“Then, every month I could really push it and then I could play,” he said. “But the feeling of getting to hear from the doctors that even with an ICD there are no limits and with your condition there are no limits… it just depends on the diagnosis and how you feel about it.”
The former Tottenham midfielder has not played since the incident last year but has recently been training with the youth team at another of his previous clubs, Ajax.
– Frustration –
Eriksen said the long lay-off had been frustrating and it had been difficult even to watch matches.
“The first few months you can’t really do anything,” he said. “You have to let it heal and let it wait and let it settle so you don’t really do anything and then ever since the last four months really started doing the rehab programme.”
He added: “Lately, a few months ago I started coming back. I touched a ball, I’m on a football pitch, smelled the grass, football boots, then everything starts coming back, the excitement to watch games, to be in the stadium, to be involved with the team.”
Manager Thomas Frank, who has hailed Eriksen as potentially Brentford’s “greatest signing” said last week he hoped the player would be in action within “weeks”.
The midfielder, who trained with his new team-mates for the first time on Monday, said he felt “very good” but that it would take time to get match-fit.
“Condition-wise and strength-wise I am in a very good place,” he said. “It’s only the football touch that needs to come back and really the game minutes and the training minutes to get up to speed.
“I feel very good but we’ll see with training how it feels, how it develops and how my body reacts.”
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