Giving his first interview since collapsing on the pitch after suffering sudden cardiac arrest during Denmark's Euro 2020 opener against Finland, Christian Eriksen outlined his dream over the next year: to represent his national team at the 2022 World Cup.
"My goal is to play in the World Cup in Qatar," Eriksen told Denmark's DR1. "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.
"I want to play on the national team in the World Cup. My dream is to rejoin the national team and play at Parken again and prove that it was a one-timer and that it won't happen again. I want to prove I've moved on and that I can play on the national team again. Again, it's up to the manager to assess my level. But my heart is not an obstacle."
Looking forward to the future pic.twitter.com/sIZsBPWNgH— Christian Eriksen (@ChrisEriksen8) January 4, 2022
Listening to Eriksen pause and laugh before finding that right words to describe his situation ("prove that it was a one-timer") is certainly dark humor, but it also speaks to his ability to cope with having "died for five minutes" over 200 days ago. Eriksen visited death's door, lived through it and is now determined to make the most of life with his newfound perspective.
The 29-year-old returned to individual training last month with Odense BK, his former youth club in Denmark. The midfielder is currently without a team after Inter Milan terminated his contract on Dec. 17 because of a long-standing rule that forbids professionals from playing with a cardiac device implant in Italy, but Eriksen is now ready to sign with another club in Europe after his agent ruled out a move to another continent because of family reasons.
"A few clubs have already contacted us some weeks ago," Eriksen's agent said in mid-December. "We have to see what the future brings. But it seems bright and that is the most important thing."
Eriksen also posted an excerpt from the interview that details his gratitude toward all those who took the time to offer him support with flowers, letters, emails and kind words on the street.
It’s been a while.
I hope this video explains how I feel towards all the messages, letters, mails, flowers, thoughts and everything else I’ve got!
Thank you for all the ❤️ pic.twitter.com/0uvmvsn5D8— Christian Eriksen (@ChrisEriksen8) January 4, 2022
Denmark qualified directly for the World Cup after winning UEFA qualifying Group F by rattling off nine straight wins with 30 goals scored and only one conceded before losing to Scotland on the final matchday. They'll play in UEFA Nations League Group 1 this summer alongside France, Croatia and Austria.