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Christian Eriksen returns

Christian Eriksen returns

After suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch during Euro 2020, Christian Eriksen has signed for Brentford. But is it safe for him to play?


Transcript

Hi, I’m Chloe and this is the Playmaker.

One story every day to make sense of the world of football.

Today… Christian Eriksen is making his return with Brentford. But is it safe?

***

It’s hard to forget what happened to Denmark’s Christian Eriksen last summer. 

“Goodness, he’s gone down there Erikson, that’s worrying. Well this is really disturbing.”

BBC SPORT

The emotional reaction of his team-mates, the medics, said it all. 

Collectively, we held our breath. Hoping and praying that he would be OK. 

When it emerged that Christian Eriksen had suffered a heart attack on the pitch, his potential return to football wasn’t even up for discussion. 

He was lucky to be alive. 

But less than a year later, the seemingly impossible happened.

“A fairytale return to football has been confirmed because Brentford have signed Christian Eriksen, he’s back in the Premier League, he’s back in football just seven months after that cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.”

Sky Sports News

***

It was a transfer deadline day signing that all football fans could get behind.

Last season, Christian Eriksen was playing in Italy, for Inter Milan. 

He’d cost around 17 million pounds when he moved there from Tottenham. 

It took him some time to adjust to playing in Serie A under Antonio Conte. But there was absolutely no doubting his quality. 

He scored a 97th-minute winner, one of his trademark free-kicks, in the Coppa Italia versus Inter’s rivals, AC Milan.

And his goal against FC Crotone effectively sealed the title for his side in 2021.

“Brozovic…Eriksen…Sanchez. Crisp and sharp and Eriksen! It’s in! And midway through the second half Christian Eriksen scores the goal that puts Inter on the brink.”

Serie A

We now know that Christian Eriksen would never return to help Inter defend the title. 

And that wasn’t because Inter didn’t want him back.

After his cardiac arrest, Christian Eriksen would be fitted with an ICD… an implantable cardioverter defibrillator.

***

“An ICD is a small, implantable device that constantly monitors your heart. If it detects a dangerous abnormal rhythm, it will deliver small electrical impulses to try and get your heart beating normally again. If this doesn’t work, it will then deliver shock therapy to try and restore your heart back to a normal rhythm.”

British Heart Foundation

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator has allowed Christian Eriksen to regain his fitness. It protects him  from any further problems in day-to-day life. 

And It would simply be too dangerous to even contemplate vigorous exercise without it.

But rules in Italy forbid footballers with an ICD from playing in the top flight.

Inter had no choice but to cancel his contract. 

Christian Eriksen was left as a free agent. 

While he would’ve been able to take his pick of the top clubs in Europe before his cardiac arrest…his options were more limited after it.

But Brentford have taken a chance on Christian Eriksen. 

It’s surely got a lot to do with the fact that Thomas Frank, their Coach, is Danish too. 

Because his return to football is not without difficulty, or risk. 

Daley Blind, the Ajax player, has an ICD fitted. 

He collapsed during a friendly with Hertha Berlin in 2020, because his device  activated, and it clearly wasn’t a pleasant sensation.

There’s a lot we don’t know about how Christian Eriksen’s return to football will pan out. That’s reflected in the fact he’s only been handed a six-month deal. 

Will he be the same player as before? And what happens if he ends up in the same situation as Daley Blind?

***

A 2017 study conducted by the Yale University School of Medicine concluded that it is safe for professional athletes to resume competition after having an ICD fitted. 

 It found that none of the 372 athletes who returned to normal activity after receiving the device died. 

But there are still some concerns among other academics in the field.

“Now in Europe I must say that we have a little bit different view and that is because of some buts. And the first is that in fact 21% of the athletes receive shocks over those two and a half years and the majority of those developed those shocks during physical activity.”

Cardiac Risk in the Young

So there is a risk, but it’s one that Christian Eriksen is clearly willing to take. He even wants to play for Denmark again. 

And who can blame him?

Today’s story was written by Chloe Beresford, and produced by Imy Harper.