Christian Eriksen’s form is winning plaudits – but the Dane’s performances for Spurs are nothing new…
“He had a splendid technique, perfect view of the game and was excellent in finding his team-mates in good positions.”
This description of Christian Eriksen could easily have been written yesterday. But it comes from Anders Skjoldemose, a youth coach at Danish top-division side OB, who was sold on the dynamo’s talent at the age of just 13.
Eriksen is beginning to receive wider plaudits he has long-since received from Spurs’ fans, who named him their player of the year in 2017 for the second season out of four, in recognition of the job he has long been performing under the radar in north London.
The 26-year-old has profited from Dele Alli’s absence from the spotlight this season, but has done so on his own merits too, scoring big goals in big games against Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester United and Chelsea, with numbers which put him among the likes of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne – both in the running for the PFA Player of the Year award.
In many ways his worth to the team has drawn the most interest in his absence – he’s missed only one Premier League game this season, and left an insipid Tottenham to draw 1-1 at relegation-threatened Southampton.
But while he has undoubtedly improved during his time in north London, he has long been honing his craft. Most players change position during their youth, some even during their professional career, but Eriksen has been perfecting his growing role as one of the world’s best creative midfielders since he was a child.
“Even at that age, I never doubted that Christian would make it to the highest level,” Skjoldemose told Sky Sports. “He was in the top of his age group in Denmark at an early age.
“OB works with more than 100 clubs and Middelfart, the town where Christian were born, was one of them. He was young when we spotted his talent, but even then we all knew that he was something special.”
In a slightly deeper role at times this season, Eriksen has eased off on chance creation – making an average of 2.56 per game, as opposed to 3.19 in 2016/17 and 3.52 the year before, although his rate of creating clear-cut opportunities is as high as ever, and something he has always found his forte.
“He was always a number 10 when he was with us,” added Skjoldemose. “He was a very skilful player with a high technique, and easily the best player I have ever seen playing in tight areas.
“His ability to see the game was on a very high level. He could turn with the ball under high pressure and his first touch was amazing.”
Eriksen’s 10 league goals, his joint-best league return in a single season for Spurs, could have been bettered but for a successful Harry Kane appeal against what was originally credited as his second goal at Stoke last weekend.
Mauricio Pochettino said there was no issue from the Dane in the aftermath of the decision, helped by a temperament which he has always held strong.
Skjoldemose said: “Christian was always a good team player with us. He is very humble and always has a smile on his face. The way you know Christian today, it is the same Christian when he was playing for OB.
“When he is in Denmark he still comes back to see us and is still the same as he always was.”