Christian Eriksen dreams of playing at 2022 World Cup despite revealing he ‘died for five minutes’

Denmark supporters displayed a banner for Christian Eriksen during the Euro 2020 match with Finland

Credit: REUTERS

Christian Eriksen has described for the first time how he "died for five minutes" as he lay on the turf after suffering cardiac arrest during a match at Euro 2020  – but that his dream remains to play for Denmark at this year’s World Cup.

He is also open to a return to English football, having described how "extraordinary" global messages of support helped his recovery in recent months.

With Italian health rules effectively banning him from playing again in Serie A, his agent Martin Schoots said: "Playing in England again would absolutely feel like coming home for Chris and his family."

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) that Eriksen had fitted automatically ruled him out of a return at Inter, but English-based players and clubs are allowed to take a case-by-case approach.  

A return to playing at any level would be a remarkable feat given Eriksen narrowly avoided death in the 42nd minute of Denmark’s tournament opener against Finland last summer.

The team doctor later explained that Eriksen "was gone" in those frantic moments that he was resuscitated. The player released a statement soon afterwards, insisting: "I won’t give up."

In his first full interview with Danish broadcaster DR, the former Tottenham midfielder said he was determined to chase his World Cup dream.

"My goal is to play in the World Cup in Qatar." Eriksen said. “I want to play. That’s been my mindset all along. It’s a goal, a dream. Whether I’ll be picked is another thing. But it’s my dream to come back.

“I’m sure I can come back because I don’t feel… I don’t feel any different. Physically, I’m back in top shape.

“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.”

‘Support from all over world has helped me through this’

The former Tottenham midfielder also described how messages of support he had received had helped him recover.

"It was amazing that so many people felt a need to write or send flowers," he added. "It had an impact on so many people, and they felt a need to let me and my family know. That makes me very happy. At the hospital, they kept saying I’d received more and more flowers. It was weird, because I didn’t expect people to send flowers because I’d died for five minutes."

He described the global reaction to his turmoil as "quite extraordinary, but it was very nice of everyone, and it’s been a big help to me to receive all those best wishes".

"And people still write to me," he added. "I’ve thanked people I’ve met in person. I’ve thanked the doctors, my teammates and their families in person.

"But all the fans who’ve sent thousands of letters and emails and flowers, or who’ve come up to me on the street both in Italy and Denmark, I thank them all for the support I got from all over the world that helped me through this."

Speaking to the BBC following the interview, Schoots, his agent, said: ""Playing in England again would absolutely feel like coming home for Chris and his family. Christian has been treated exceptionally well by the British public, not only because of his top football skills, but also because of his human values, his modesty and altruism."

The Football Association confirmed to Telegraph Sport in October that its rules on elite players who have suffered cardiac arrests differ to the blanket approach in Italy. Francesco Braconaro, a member of the Italian Football Federation’s technical scientific committee, first said in August that Eriksen will not be allowed to play in Italy unless the ICD device is removed.

The prospect of a return to playing after such a death defying cardiac arrest is without precedent in the Premier League, which would delegate ultimate decision-making to the FA’s Cardiac Consensus Panel. Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba, for example, announced he was retiring fairly shortly after his collapse in 2012. However, Ajax’s former Manchester United defender Daley Blind has continued playing with an ICD fitted after being diagnosed with heart muscle inflammation.

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