Antonio Conte stunned by Christian Eriksen return as Tottenham prepare for Brentford clash
Antonio Conte has admitted he is “really surprised” by Christian Eriksen’s seamless return to football.
Eriksen will face his former club and manager when Brentford host Conte’s Tottenham tomorrow, with the midfielder looking to maintain his 100 per cent win record when starting games for his new side.
The Dane spent six-and-a-half years at Spurs before leaving for Conte’s Inter Milan in January 2020. He returned to the Premier League on a six-month deal in January after being released by the Italian club in the wake of his cardiac arrest at last summer’s Euro 2020.
The Bees have won all five League matches in which Eriksen has started and the 30-year-old has already made a successful return to the national team.
Conte, who has already hinted Spurs may try to re-sign Eriksen as a free agent in the summer, says he is not alone at being stunned by Eriksen’s comeback and suggested tomorrow’s opponents deserve credit for taking a risk on him.
“Honestly, no one knew well the possibility of Christian coming back to football,” Conte told Standard Sport. “It was a surprise for everybody.
“I think in this respect, Brentford did very well to understand the situation and sign Christian. I’m really surprised, but I’m not the only person surprised to see him playing in this way.
“I don’t want to remember what happened to him because it makes me very sad. But to see him now playing at this level is incredible, it’s amazing.
“I’m very happy for him. For sure, he had always great joy in playing football but if before he was enjoying it 100 per cent, now it’s 200 per cent. To go from a situation where you [fear you] can’t play football for the rest of your life, to playing football again, that makes you enjoy this sport much more.
“I wish for him and his family the best. They deserve it and it will be a great joy to see him on the pitch, playing and doing what he likes to do.”
Eriksen initially played a bit-part role under Conte in Milan but established himself as a key player for their historic Scudetto win last season. Conte praised Eriksen’s adaptability and even suggested he deserved some credit for his form at Griffin Park.
“At Inter we played with a 3-5-2 and at the time Christian was used to playing at Tottenham behind a striker in a 4-2-3-1,” Conte added.
“He needed time to understand my idea of football. But when he did, he became a really important player for us.
“I see at Brentford they are playing sometimes 3-5-2 and he is doing the same things he did with Inter by being their playmaker.
“But when you have a player with great availability to improve themselves and put themselves at the service of the team, it’s easier for a manager. And Christian is one of these types of player.”
Conte will be without Oliver Skipp, Matt Doherty and Japhet Tanganga as Spurs aim to recover from last weekend’s defeat by Brighton.