Christian Eriksen says it is “very special” to be back at the World Cup as he seeks to complete a remarkable comeback from his cardiac arrest during the European Championship last year.
The playmaker collapsed on the pitch against Finland in June 2021 and had to be resuscitated in front of a stunned Copenhagen crowd and a television audience of millions.
On the way to hospital, he told his wife Sabrina that he would probably never play football again but he was back in action eight months later.
The 30-year-old had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator fitted, which meant he had to quit Inter Milan due to rules in Italy.
But he signed for Brentford in the Premier League and also resumed his international career.
“It’s very special to be at a World Cup for your national team,” said Eriksen, who is now at Manchester United. “It’s something I’ve tried before and I’m very happy to be back again.
“It (the collapse) gave me an appreciation of being alive and being with my family. I think everything else has just moved to the side.”
Denmark, who face Tunisia on Tuesday, will also come up against world champions France in Group D and will fancy their chances after beating Les Bleus home and away in the Nations League earlier this year.
With their talisman back in top form Denmark look an even stronger proposition than the side that was only narrowly eliminated from Euro 2020, in the semifinals, by England.
“For me personally being part of the team is always good,” said Eriksen. “I hope I can help the team as much as I can in any way.
“I know we’ve beaten France but normally France in a tournament is a different team compared to the rest of the year. We know what to do and we look forward to it.
“The national team has always been strong. I do think the belief in the squad and from you guys, the fans, was bigger when I came back from the fall.”
Denmark’s assistant coach Morten Wieghorst said Eriksen was an “inspiration” for his teammates and the rest of his country.
“In my view he’s been even better than he was before the accident,” Wieghorst said. “I really do believe that he’s become an even better player, if that was possible.”