CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN’S skills as a 13-year-old are still being used to teach kids and coaches across Denmark — and probably beyond.
Within three years of the DVD he made with pals, Eriksen was signing for Ajax, the club his Tottenham side will take on in tomorrow’s Champions League semi-final first leg.
Tonny Hermansen coached Eriksen as part of the regional team representing the island of Funen and put together the DVD for the local and Danish FAs.
Hermansen said: “The Danish Association felt they needed to do something for the parents and others who were coaching because they needed inspiration.
“I found five boys at the age of 13 — Christian, Rasmus Falk, who played in the same Middelfart team as Christian and is now also on the Danish national team, my son and two others, and one girl.
“We had two days to produce 143 different kinds of skills. So they were very busy. It could also be used elsewhere, in Europe and in Danish clubs.
“These days, most people don’t use DVDs anymore.
“But I heard from a friend they had a course for young coaches recently and gave their last couple of DVDs to the people who went on the course.
“So still in 2019 they speak about this movie.”
It was called ‘Fodboldteknik for alle’ — Football technique for all — but Hermansen had known Eriksen was more talented than most since watching him play against his son, Cristoffer, from the age of nine.
Hermansen added: “From the first moment I saw him, I thought this could be a very special footballer.
“Also because of his mentality and his manner. He’s a very good guy. He took care of all of his team-mates.
“He was technically brilliant with both feet. This is not normal in Danish football, to see a guy of nine or ten years old who could use both feet.”
That ability was in evidence when Eriksen, now 27, hit the left-footed screamer which earned Spurs a late victory against Brighton.
And the day after that game, the kids of his home town of Middelfart were out trying to copy him. Claus Hansen, chairman of the local club where he once played with Eriksen’s dad, Thomas, said: “They all tried to kick with their left legs because Christian did it, they wanted to do the same.
“He is a big star in Middelfart but a good star because he is just himself. He talks to everyone when he is home.
“He comes to watch the young players when they are training.
“We have a team in the club for young people with mental disabilities and he wanted to play with them when he came back last summer.
“It was big night for that team and those guys.”
From the first moment I saw him, I thought this could be a very special footballer.
Eriksen's former coach Tonny Hermansen
There will be people from Middelfart in the crowd at Tottenham for Eriksen’s big night tomorrow and next week in Amsterdam, where he went when just 16.
He was recommended to Ajax by John Steen Olsen, the scout who also brought Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the Dutch club.
Steen Olsen had also persuaded Michael and Brian Laudrup to join Ajax towards the end of their careers, cementing strong connection with Denmark going back to Soren Lerby, Frank Arnesen and Jan Molby.
Such was Eriksen’s talent Steen Olsen urged technical director Danny Blind to fly to Denmark to see him, after his dad said he could not go to Holland for a trial because he had travelled so much to try out for other big European clubs.
And Steen Olsen once said he considered Eriksen to be his greatest find.
He told Danish paper Ekstra Bladet: “Zlatan, Brian and Michael Laudrup and Jesper Gronkjaer were first-team players when they came to Ajax.
“Christian wasn’t, but it’s not down to me that it’s happened so fast. He has developed great in a short time.
“Eriksen is the best example of Ajax’s philosophy: You are old enough if you are good enough.”
Steen Olsen handed out that praise in 2010, the year Eriksen made his Ajax debut shortly before his 18th birthday.
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A panel led by legend Johan Cruyff made Eriksen only the second Danish player to win the Dutch Football Talent of the Year award, following his first full season in 2010-11.
Part of the prize was to have a Cruyff Court, a small scale all-weather pitch designed for skills training, built in a place of his choice.
It sits in Middelfart, between Eriksen’s old school and his former football club, who also built a pitch from their cut of his move from Odense to Ajax.
So the great Dane’s teenage brilliance has a physical legacy, as well as being captured for posterity on DVD.