The residents of Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen’s hometown of Middelfart have paid tribute to the Inter player after his health emergency suffered during Denmark’s EURO 2020 opener against Finland.
Gazzetta dello Sport spoke to several prominent members of the community about their memories of the Dane, published in today’s print edition of the Milan-based newspaper.
Eriksen’s health emergency was a shocking moment which resulted in an outpouring of support from the entire footballing world, and not just from within the communities of Denmark or Inter, as the 29-year-old begins his recovery journey.
Eriksen is a highly prominent player considered to be a key man for his national team, and he has won league titles in the Netherlands and most recently Italy, as well as appearing in a Champions League final with Tottenham.
However, the remarks by everyday people from Middelfart show a different side to his life and career, and give expression to the genuine worry and grief of the people who know him most intimately, as someone other than a football star.
Kim Frank, Eriksen’s former teacher, is now Cruyff Court ambassador for the Cruyff Foundation.
Frank oversees a project to award promising talents with the choice to put a football pitch with artificial grass in a location of their choosing, with Eriksen having been the recipient in 2011.
He reminisces: “As a child, Christian lived with the ball attached to his feet, I have a memory of his shoes always being covered in dirt, never clean.
He relates this to the Cruyff Court’s mission:
“[Eriksen] decided that it would be right to give the institute a field where you could play without having to . . . get dirty all the time.”
“Here is the pitch,” Frank continued, “He chose it. Do you see over there behind those trees? Here there is also the headquarters of his first club.
“This is how football and school are united. I was also his coach, and a teammate of his father’s. The last time Christian came to town was two years ago.
“He came here to the field, I recall. There were three hundred people asking him for autographs.
“But the beauty is that for us he is not Eriksen, he is just Chris, the boy we know. And he always behaves the same way,” Frank closed by saying.
The Gazzetta notes that in the headquarters of Eriksen’s first club, Middelfart Boldklub there are images and pieces of memorabilia related to the Inter midfielder everywhere.
Frank states: “Here he began to play. And right here on Saturday evening we set up a big screen. There were two hundred of us.
“We were frozen when he fell to the ground. Everyone left in a composed and silent way to their homes.
“The match for us would never be resumed. Just him, just our player, nothing seemed to have meaning any longer.”
Middelfart’s mayor Johannes Lundsfryd Jensen reflected on the situation:
“I couldn’t help but thinking of Christian’s parents. I know them well. And he himself was a perfect boy, when he comes back he always plays with the boys from the football school.
“He is one of us, a son of the city and an icon. We are waiting for him here, and as soon as he is out of the hospital and the European Championship is over, maybe he will spend a few days at his house. We want to be close to him.”
Charlotte Rasmussen, owner of the Guldkronen pub where the mayor watched the Finland match among others, had this to say:
“We all know the Eriksen family here. I had the place full the other night, all the seats were out. It was a party.
“The bar emptied itself in an instant. We all have one thought in these days, which goes beyond work and family.”
She closed: “Actually, no. Christian is family. One of us was in a bad way.”