Christian Eriksen is about to get emotionally back in action with Brentford on Saturday, less than a year after the Dane’s shocking touch with death.
Eriksen went into cardiac arrest when he played for Denmark against Finland at the European Championship in June.
Now the 30-year-old is in contention to play in a competitive game for the first time since that horrific incident when Brentford hosted Newcastle in the Premier League this weekend.
As he fights for his life surrounded by teammates from Denmark, while his partner Sabrina Kvist watches helplessly on the sidelines, Eriksen has since admitted he “died for five minutes” before being revived by medics on the pitch in Copenhagen.
Although Eriksen escaped unharmed after being treated in hospital, the ordeal was expected to curtail his playing career.
He was forced to leave Inter Milan due to Italian regulations banning players with implantable cardioverter defibrillators from playing in Serie A.
But the former Tottenham star was determined to get back into action once it became clear there were no risks to his health.
Eriksen trained with the reserves at his former club Ajax in January before making the move to Brentford, whose boss Thomas Frank had worked with the player in Denmark’s youth teams.
Eriksen has been training with Brentford for several weeks and gave a glimpse of his progress in closed-door friendlies against Southend and a Rangers XI, providing both assists in the final game on Monday
Whether Eriksen starts or appears as a substitute against Newcastle remains to be seen, but Frank has strongly suggested the 30-year-old will be involved at some point.
– ‘What I’ve been waiting for’ –
When Eriksen finally takes the field at Brentford’s Community Stadium in west London, it will complete the midfielder’s incredible recovery.
He is sure to receive a heroic welcome from Brentford fans and it won’t be a surprise if more than a few tears are shed, both in the stands and among Eriksen’s family and friends.
Even Eriksen admits he is amazed at how good his body felt as he ramped up his training.
“I feel very good. It was a tough test last week with the game against Southend,” he told Brentford’s website.
“I feel like I’m in a good place mentally going into the games and physically, which is the most important thing at the moment.
“I’m actually a little surprised that my body is acting the way it is. Of course I trained hard, but I didn’t expect to be as good as I feel now. It is definitely something very positive.”
Frank has described his joy watching Eriksen in training, as the midfielder shows the same carefree joy he played during their time together in Denmark.
His debut could be a boost for Brentford, who have taken just one point from their last seven games to get dangerously close to the relegation zone.
But after surviving his near-death experience, Eriksen simply enjoys the simple pleasures of his sporting passion.
Although the life-changing incident has left physical scars on his body, he feels mentally refreshed by the familiar rhythm of training with his teammates.
“I feel the same excitement, the same love for touching the ball and being involved and playing football in general,” he said.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for months. Being on the road with a team is something very pleasant and very reassuring.”