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Christian Eriksen: how Ajax roots paved path to Manchester United | Christian Eriksen

It was for the duration of the initially times of January 2020 when Christian Eriksen obtained a contact from John Steen Olsen, Ajax’s celebrated Scandinavian scout who initial viewed the Denmark midfielder when Eriksen was a 13-calendar year-old. “I named him and explained: ‘You know that Ajax is usually there for you,’” Steen Olsen explained to the club’s web-site. “He stated he would like to but only when he is a tiny older.”

In the 7 days that Steen Olsen, described by Zlatan Ibrahimovic as his “real father”, retired following 25 years’ assistance at Ajax, Eriksen has decided to come to be element of Erik 10 Hag’s Manchester United rebuild. Ten Hag is a former Ajax supervisor and, like several of his predecessors, worked intently with Steen Olsen, a former Denmark ahead who was appointed by Morten Olsen in 1997 and signed a lifetime contract with the Dutch club in 2015.

Steen Olsen’s departure at the age of 79 on 1 July marked the conclude of an era at Ajax just after he performed a portion in bringing both equally Laudrup brothers to Amsterdam in the twilight of their careers and carried on the club’s longstanding Scandinavian affiliation by scouting gamers this sort of as Ibrahimovic, Jesper Grønkjær and Kasper Dolberg amid several other people. But he has often rated Eriksen as his best discovery following famously persuading the then sporting director Danny Blind to travel to Denmark to indication the 16-year-aged from Odense immediately after Eriksen’s father had refused to allow for his son to attend a demo in 2008. “I forced the Ajax administration to come,” Steen Olsen has reported. “Otherwise, some others would have taken him.”

United ended up between those to clearly show an fascination in the teenage prodigy who went on to be the youngest player to surface at the 2010 Earth Cup in South Africa, even though it was Chelsea, Milan and Barcelona who each individual took Eriksen on a week’s trial in advance of he opted for Ajax.

“At Chelsea, there ended up two gates that had been guarded by protection staff 24 hrs a day. It created me realise just how substantial the club was,” Eriksen recalled in an job interview with aim.com. “That made me back again off a very little. As a peaceful Middelfart boy, it was a wholly unique environment.”

Christian Eriksen celebrates the 2011-12 Eredivisie title with Daley Blind, Andre Ooijer and Jan Vertonghen. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

After Eriksen produced his Ajax debut soon prior to his 18th birthday in January 2010, the club agreed to pay for the design of a “Cruyff Court” – a smaller all-weather pitch intended for expertise schooling – in a area of his decision. He selected a web site concerning his previous faculty and former club in Middelfart, a modest city at the gateway to Funen, Denmark’s 3rd-major island.

Tottenham were the beneficiaries of Eriksen’s selection to allow his contract to enter its closing 12 months in advance of he still left Ajax for only £11m in 2013, but his bond with the club has remained solid via his friendship with Steen Olsen. Throughout his remaining weeks at Spurs, Eriksen confided in his mentor about his stress at currently being omitted from the side just after requesting a transfer the earlier summer months. Tottenham’s chairman, Daniel Levy, experienced refused to countenance provides from numerous clubs such as José Mourinho’s United above the preceding 18 months but finally authorized him to be part of Internazionale on a valuable four-and-a-half-calendar year deal really worth a claimed €10m a time.

Whilst Eriksen was portion of the Inter squad that ended the club’s Scudetto drought in 2021 less than Antonio Conte, he hardly ever fairly reached the heights predicted of him in Milan and was not a regular starter below the now-Tottenham supervisor. The defibrillator fitted just after Eriksen’s cardiac arrest while enjoying for Denmark at Euro 2020 intended he was no longer permitted to play in Serie A and led to a limited-phrase reunion with Thomas Frank at Brentford, who coached him for Denmark’s youth sides.

Christian Eriksen in action for Brentford.
Christian Eriksen was central to Brentford’s late-season type. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA

“Fortunately, he is completely himself again, and maybe even superior now,” mentioned Steen Olsen, pondering back again to the instant when Eriksen said he experienced “died for five minutes” soon after collapsing versus Finland. “Admittedly I was shocked when I was in Parken and saw what happened. I have quite strong thoughts for Christian.”

It was at Ajax that Eriksen experienced started his road to recovery in January, instruction with the reserves even though 10 Hag was at the helm. “I am very happy to be here,” he mentioned at the time. “At Ajax I know the folks it feels like coming property because I was in this article for so extensive.”

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Spurs and Newcastle made obvious they required to sign Eriksen on a cost-free transfer this summertime after some good performances for Brentford that guided them to 5 victories in his first seven starts last period, but Ten Hag’s appointment by United at the conclusion of April proved to be important. Brentford ended up willing to smash their wage structure in an endeavor to persuade him to continue to be in a lot more familiar surroundings but the temptation to abide by in the footsteps of Jesper Olsen – an additional former Ajax player – John Sivebæk and Peter Schmeichel and turn into the sixth Dane to shift to Aged Trafford proved far too solid.

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