Christian Eriksen said he was a “happy man” after making his long-awaited return to football in Brentford’s 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United, having suffered a near-fatal cardiac arrest during a Euro 2020 fixture last June.
The Denmark midfielder joined Brentford on a free transfer in January after leaving Serie A champions Inter, having suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during his country’s Euro 2020 group-stage fixture against Finland in Copenhagen.
Eriksen received a standing ovation from both sets of fans when he was introduced as a second-half substitute against the Magpies, 766 days after making his last Premier League appearance, which came for Tottenham against Norwich City in January 2020.
The timing of his return was not entirely ideal, with the Bees finding themselves down to 10 men after Josh DaSilva’s early dismissal, and 2-0 down through Joelinton and Joe Willock goals, a scoreline that remained the same as Brentford’s winless run was extended to eight Premier League games.
But, speaking to the BBC after game, Eriksen said he was thrilled to be back in action.
“If you take away the result, I’m one happy man,” Eriksen told BBC Sport.
“To go through what I’ve been through, being back is a wonderful feeling.
“Thomas [Frank] didn’t say much [before the substitution]. I’ve been speaking to him every day for the last few weeks, he just said ‘good luck and enjoy the game’.
“I don’t think anyone predicted we’d be down to 10 men so early. The guys did what they could. It was a good fight in the end.
“It [the fans’ reception] has been very special since day one. They have taken good care of me. Everyone’s been really happy about it, and everyone’s been really helpful.
“Everyone is here. My family, my parents, my kids, my mother-in-law, and some doctors who have been helping me. What they’ve been through is even tougher than what I’ve been through.”
Eriksen made over 300 appearances for Tottenham in his last spell in the Premier League, scoring 69 goals in a successful six-and-a-half year stint.
Brentford manager Thomas Frank, meanwhile, said the 30-year-old’s return to the pitch was a great moment for everyone in football, and is sure the attacking midfielder, who has 109 caps for his nation, will aid his side’s fight to remain in the division.
“I think for everyone in football, it was a big moment,” Frank said.
“He got a big reception, from the Newcastle fans and all our fans, and it was big for Christian and his family. It was nice to see, and hopefully now he can talk with his feet and speak only about football.
“I’ve been privileged to see him in training over the last three weeks, and you saw some glimpses of brilliance.
“I’m convinced, 100 per cent, he will help us going forward. He’s a top, top player and he’s going to add a lot of value to our team.”