Christian Eriksen doesn’t run, he glides, resembling a graceful animal, the kind you feel privileged to see, and take photographs of, in the wild.

The great Dane doesn’t control the ball either, at least not in a conventional manner that can be boiled down to physics and a dangled boot.

Rather it’s cradled, caressed, loved. Seeing him acquire a fizzing pass brings to mind an excitable child running into the calm embrace of a parent.

Then it’s gone. A through-ball. A nuanced pass, sometimes raking, other times not. Always aesthetically pleasing, even a five-yard retaining of possession. It’s always purposeful too because this is not an artist who paints for painting’s sake.

For seven years, in his pomp, amidst a team in their pomp, Eriksen lit up English football for Spurs, unquestionably one of the best Premier League midfielders of all time

Then he was gone, to Inter, after a protracted angling for a move that perhaps soured his legacy in North London.

Those blue and black stripes though really suited the 28-year-old, made his easy, breezy guile appear even more refined. The slowed down pace of Italian fare meant that Serie A was his playground.

Some random highlights from a career of them.

His first goal for Tottenham in only his second game, that downed Tromso in the Europa League.

Eriksen’s speciality has always been a shot laced with a golf-shot draw but here the angle wasn’t there. It simply wasn’t there, the keeper stationed close to the far post, the near post blocked by a cluster of defender’s legs.

Eriksen though backed his accuracy, trusted his ability, and fired the sweetest strike imaginable, arcing away from flailing fingertips. 

At Inter, a Coppa Italia quarter final against city rival AC Milan was heading to extra-time when in the 97th minute the Nerazzurri won a free-kick 25 yards out.

The contest was won from the very second Eriksen wrapped his foot around the ball, guiding it home with bend and care.

Then he was gone. Forever gone, or seemingly so, on that awful June afternoon in the Parken Stadium, Copenhagen when the silky midfielder stumbled minus the ball and fell to the turf and the watching world knew something abhorrent was transpiring but didn’t know what.

One moment Denmark are playing Finland in a Euro Championship group game, the next a cherished player is lying motionless on the pitch, his heart having stopped beating.

It took quick-thinking and heroism from team-mates and doctors to save him, a defibrillator to revive him.

That Eriksen has subsequently returned to top-level football is a blessing. That he is alive is immeasurably more than that, but let’s focus on the blessing. Let’s focus on his muse.

At Brentford for half a season he shimmied and shimmered, creating the third most chances in the top-flight, each instance of artistry a celebration of survival.

Then Manchester United, a renaissance partly hampered by injury but a renaissance, nonetheless.

The Reds’ Premier League betting odds were improved by his mere presence, as illustrated by how many games they lost when he was unavailable. 

When he played, making the straightforward look simple and the difficult easy, it has been a reminder of what we so nearly lost. A maestro at work. One of the very best there has been.


Stephen Tudor is a freelance football writer and sports enthusiast who only knows slightly less about the beautiful game than you do.

A contributor to FourFourTwo and Forbes, he is a Manchester City fan who was taken to Maine Road as a child because his grandad predicted they would one day be good.