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Australia V Denmark: Christian Eriksen stands in Socceroos way at FIFA World Cup

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One of world sport’s greatest comebacks stands in Australia’s way in Qatar.

Last year Denmark star Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field during his nation’s Euro 2020 match against Finland.

He’d suffered a cardiac arrest and was technically dead for up to four minutes before being revived.

It was a horrific scene that shocked world football.

In those moments when he lay still on the pitch, there were fears he would even survive let alone play football again.

But just eight months later Eriksen was back on the pitch and has now signed for Manchester United.

If Australia is to make the second round in Qatar, it will need to do so but ending Eriksen’s World Cup.

The Denmark playmaker is a key figure in the game against the Socceroos at 2am (AEDT) on Thursday.

Australia needs a win or a draw (unless Tunisia upsets France) to advance, while Denmark needs a win to qualify.

At the final press conference before the game, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold was asked by a Danish journalist about Eriksen’s recovery after “lying dead” 18 months ago.

“Fantastic, inspirational,” Arnold said.

“Just marvellous, it’s truly great we’re going to be playing against him. It was such a special moment for Danish national team when he came back

“Seeing what he’s done has shown the world what a strong character he is. I don’t know him of course, but when I saw that sad moment occur I could see how everyone rallied behind him.”

The Socceroos team was in Kuwait for a World Cup qualifier and watching that game when it happened.

“It was horrifying,” Arnold said. “To see him now back and playing at this World Cup, it’s special to be playing against him.”

In Qatar, with a healthy Eriksen back in the side, Denmark were held 0-0 by Tunisia in their first match before being sunk on Saturday by Kylian Mbappe’s late winner as they went down 2-1.

In one of his first interviews after the incident, Eriksen said: ““I remember it all — except those minutes when I was in heaven.”

Before the World Cup, Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said Eriksen could control games for the Danes.

“When he plays, he has a fantastic way of taking decision [control] of the rhythm of the game, and controlling the game with his passing and vision,” Hjulmand said.

“Both on and off the pitch he gives us so much. It’s just a pleasure to work with him, you have to drag him off the pitch every day.”

Denmark captain Simon Kjaer said the squad they were thankful he was in Qatar.

“As a football player, he is probably one of the best I have ever seen. Just hanging around with the boys, I think he appreciates it more than us. We love having him by our side,” he said.

But Eriksen was keen to downplay the horrific incident after Denmark’s final game against Tunisia, where he played the full 90 minutes.

“It’s been quite a while. It’s more about me as a player now. I’m just happy to be back as a footballer,” said Eriksen.

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