Christian Eriksen is set to make an emotional return to Parken Stadium on Tuesday, just over nine months on from suffering a cardiac arrest on the very same pitch.
The Danish midfielder collapsed during his country’s match against Finland in Copenhagen at Euro 2020 last year and subsequently received life-saving treatment on the field.
Eriksen marked his return to international football in stunning fashion on Saturday, scoring with his first touch in Denmark’s 4-2 defeat to the Netherlands in Amsterdam. Playing at the stadium of his former club, Ajax, the 30-year-old received a hero’s welcome from the Dutch crowd.
Yet on Tuesday, 290 days on from his collapse, a friendly against Serbia has the 30-year-old eyeing an even more “special” return, and the chance to give his home fans newer, fonder memories.
“I think it’s something you can’t prepare for,” Eriksen told reporters.
“The reception in Holland was very big and my expectation is it is going to be even bigger here. This is the place where it happened and people will see it.
“Afterwards, people will be talking about it, like everything is back to normal. They are going to have a new memory. It’s going to be special and I’m looking forward to it.”
Homecoming on Tuesday would mark another milestone for Eriksen in what has been a rapid and triumphant journey to date since his cardiac arrest.
After being fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) device – a type of pacemaker intended to prevent fatal cardiac arrests by discharging a jolt of electricity to restore regular heart rhythm – Eriksen left Italian club Inter Milan to train with former club Odense Boldklub in Denmark.
Asserting in January that his heart was “not an obstacle” to his ambitions of a return to football or a place at December’s World Cup in Qatar, Eriksen moved a step closer to that aim when he signed for English Premier League club Brentford later that month.
He made his debut for the West London side at the end of February, substituted on to rapturous applause in a home defeat to Newcastle before starting in back-to-back victories.
Eriksen provided a gorgeous assist in a 2-0 victory over Burnley, his form rewarded with a Denmark call-up for March’s international friendlies.
With two more World Cup qualifiers scheduled for Tuesday, Denmark have already safely secured passage to Qatar after dominating their qualifying group with nine wins from a possible 10.