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Seven months after on-field collapse, Denmark’s Christian Eriksen plots his return

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 1/4/2022 Glynn A. Hill
Christian Eriksen has not played competitively since suffering cardiac arrest during a Euro 2020 match last June. (Hannah McKay/Reuters) © Hannah Mckay/Pool Via Reuters Christian Eriksen has not played competitively since suffering cardiac arrest during a Euro 2020 match last June. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

Seven months after collapsing on the field during Denmark’s Euro 2020 match last summer, star midfielder Christian Eriksen said he hopes to play in the 2022 World Cup, which begins November in Qatar.

In what is believed to be his first public comments since the incident, Eriksen reflected on his collapse and discussed his goals in an interview with Danish broadcaster DR1.

“My goal is to play in the World Cup in Qatar. I want to play,” Eriksen said. “That’s been my mind-set all along. It’s a goal, a dream. Whether I’ll be picked or not is another thing. But it’s my dream to come back.”

During the 43rd minute of a pandemic-delayed Euro 2020 match between Denmark and Finland in June, Eriksen collapsed after he began to run up the field on a throw-in. Teammates shielded Eriksen’s motionless body from fans and cameras, and he received CPR before being sent to a hospital in Copenhagen, where he was said to be in stable condition.

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“He was gone, and we did cardiac resuscitation. It was a cardiac arrest,” Morten Boesen, the team’s doctor, later told reporters. “How close were we [to losing Eriksen]? I don’t know. We got him back after one defib, so that’s quite fast. I’m not a cardiologist, so the details I will leave to the experts at the hospital.”

Eriksen referenced his revival in the interview, adding that he was surprised by the outpouring of support he and his family received during his six-day hospital stay, during which doctors installed a defibrillator to help prevent future cardiac arrests.

“At the hospital, they kept saying I’d received more and more flowers,” he said. “It was weird, because I didn’t expect people to send flowers because I’d died for five minutes.”

Eriksen visited teammates at Inter Milan’s training facility in early August, but that same month, the Italian Football Federation said he would not be allowed to play in the country’s professional league unless the defibrillator was removed. Eriksen and the team agreed to terminate his contract in December.

Weeks before the split, Eriksen, who turns 30 in February, began training by himself at his former youth club’s facility in Denmark. In the DR1 interview, he said he is preparing to resume his career.

“I’m sure I can come back because I don’t feel any different. Physically, I’m back in top shape,” Eriksen said. “That’s been my goal and it’s still some time away, so until then I’m just going to play football and prove that I’m back at the same level.”

Denmark last year qualified for the 2022 World Cup, which will be held in November and December rather than the usual summer time frame because of concerns over Qatar’s scorching temperatures then.

Eriksen said rejoining the national team would be an important step in his return to the pitch and proving that last summer’s episode was “a one-timer and that it won’t happen again.” The deadline for setting World Cup rosters typically comes a few weeks before the tournament starts.

“I want to prove I’ve moved on and that I can play on the national team again,” he said. “Again, it’s up to the manager to assess my level. But my heart is not an obstacle.”

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