Denmark matchwinner Christian Eriksen deserves place among world’s elite or so says an article on ESPN
The article starts by regaling a story from October 2014, when then-Denmark boss Morten Olsen delivered a brutal assessment of Christian Eriksen’s career. Olsen said: “We blame him. He must stand up to the criticism. It is a brutal world, otherwise you have to play at another level. It is not Ajax any more. This is not development,”
All this was after Eriksen had been largely anonymous in a 1-0 European Championship qualifying defeat to Portugal.
Three years on, it’s all change for our Number 23, the article says Olsen’s successor believes Eriksen now belongs with Ronaldo as one of the top 10 players on the planet, after he put the Irish to the sword with a stunning display in the Danes 5-1 playoff rout in Dublin which sealed his country’s place at the 2018 World Cup.
“It’s difficult to rank, but we saw [in Tottenham’s Champions League matches] against Real Madrid he is probably one of the best players in his position in Europe at the moment,” said Denmark boss Age Hareide.
“Ronaldo, [Lionel] Messi and some strikers are playing as forwards. Christian is more a wide man or a central midfield player. He has this capability of scoring goals, making assists, finding space, so, definitely top 10.”
The article adds that before this qualifying campaign, Olsen’s attitude to Eriksen was not considered unfair in Denmark, he had been named as the Danish player of the year three years running from 2013, but lost his crown to Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel last year, and he has long been their best player.
It’s adds however that it was widely considered that he did not do enough for his country and he was still someway from Michael Laudrup-levels of adulation. However the article adds it is changing.
Eriksen seems like he’s been around forever adds the article, that he has been playing first-team football since he was 16, with Ajax and now Tottenham, he has been a Denmark regular since he was 18.
It adds how he explained after Tuesday’s match that he has “mentally grown-up” and, at the age of 25, has begun to adapt his game.
“I am taking more shots than passing. I am thinking more like a striker,” he said, which sounds a lot like something Messi or Ronaldo might have said at the advent of their own stardom.
It says that the playmaker deserves huge credit for finding another level, while Hareide and his club manager Mauricio Pochettino have been big factors in his rise. It adds how Eriksen explained this week that Pochettino has given him the stability at Spurs to simply focus on football. “You feel comfortable, you feel aware of everything around you and you don’t think about anything other than football when you’re on the pitch,” he said.
The article adds that Eriksen said that does not need or want the limelight, but he will be in it in Russia whether he likes it or not. The next test for Eriksen is delivering at the World Cup, where he will be a marked man.
The article concludes by saying that to try to deliver under that kind of scrutiny will be huge challenge. But then that’s what the very best players do.
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