Brentford head coach Thomas Frank feared he may never see Christian Eriksen alive again, let alone make a return to top-flight football.
Eriksen is now ready for a much-anticipated competitive Brentford debut during Saturday’s Premier League match against Newcastle in what will be an emotional occasion for Danes watching all around the world.
Former Tottenham and Inter Milan playmaker Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during Denmark’s Euro 2020 group match against Finland in Copenhagen on June 12 last year which sent shockwaves through football.
Eriksen, who has played for the Bees in a couple of behind-closed-doors fixtures, revealed he had “died for five minutes” at the Parken Stadion. Following his recovery, he needed an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) device fitted.
Rules in Italy meant Eriksen could not play there and so left Inter Milan by mutual consent, before a free agent move to Brentford ahead of the January deadline offered the opportunity of a return to action.
“I watched the game, and at that moment in time I didn’t think about if he was playing football (again) or not – the only concern I had was that he was brought back to life,” said Frank, who had a spell in charge of Denmark’s youth international teams early in his career.
“When you have got that confirmed, I think that was 45 minutes to an hour after, then that was the big, big thing.
“Instantly when I saw him go to the ground, I could just see that is was not naturally, so, you know, we talked about that: ‘this is not good for him’.
“Then when then you knew it was fine and the next six, seven months, there was a lot of calls.
“I have coached more than half of the (Denmark) national team and a lot of the staff members are friends, close personal friends, so for all of them involved closely it was of course big to see him (improving) as the days went on after.
“For me, life moves on and the good thing is because he was alive then it is a little bit more natural.”
Eriksen, 30, also spent time building up his fitness with another of his former clubs at Ajax before making a transfer deadline day move to west London.
Frank is in no doubt Eriksen has complete confidence in his own well-being.
“At the beginning meeting (after his arrival) where he stood up and talked to the players and the staff and said ‘don’t worry, I’m fine. I just want to play football, don’t hesitate in terms of kicking me down in training. I just want to be normal’. I think that was a big moment,” the Brentford boss recalled.
“For tomorrow, of course, it will be a tiny bit more special – and there is no doubt that I will remind the players about that.
“We are going in and playing a very important football match, doing everything we can to win – but there are things that are bigger and put life into perspective.”