Eriksen: It's an incredible feeling
Denmark qualified for a fifth FIFA World Cup on Tuesday
Christian Eriksen starred with a hat-trick in their comeback victory
Eriksen set a new goalscoring record for Denmark
In 1985, Denmark qualified for their first FIFA World Cup™ with a sparkling 4-1 win away to Republic of Ireland. Qualification kick-started a magical period for a team dubbed 'Danish Dynamite' as names such as Laudrup, Simonsen, Olsen and Elkjaer became synonymous with a side that fast became a neutrals’ favourite.
Fast forward three decades and Denmark reprised that big win in Dublin - this time triumphing 5-1 - to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ in style. It is a fifth World Cup for the Scandinavians, and this time they have one undoubted superstar: Christian Eriksen.
The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder netted a truly world class hat-trick to outgun the Irish almost single-handedly after the home side took a 1-0 aggregate lead in the first half. That treble took Eriksen's Russia 2018 qualifying campaign tally to 11 goals – a new Danish record. Though only 25, he now sits equal as the all-time top-scorer for Denmark in World Cup qualifying alongside Preben Elkjaer, Soren Larsen and Jon Dahl Tomasson.
"It's not that often I score any hat-trick, so it's obviously incredible to get to a World Cup with three goals away in a play-off," Eriksen said. “It's going to mean a lot for my whole career and my whole life.
"I think mentally I've grown up, I am taking more shots than passing," added Eriksen, who is enjoying a rich vein of form for both club and country. "I am thinking more like a striker.
"With the change of the manager, of how we play, it has meant a lot for how we play and my position and how we keep me involved."
That change of manager was the appointment of Age Hareide, who had tipped Eriksen to be the difference between the two play-off hopefuls - and was not disappointed.
"He was fantastic," said the Norwegian. "He is always a fantastic player on the ball, works hard for the team, and he's an inspiration for all the lads around him. That’s the difference between the sides."
Denmark were forced into the play-off after finishing behind Poland in Europe’s Group E. They last featured on world football’s greatest stage in 2010, and Eriksen is relishing their imminent return.
"It's an incredible feeling and we've been fighting for so long to get there," he said. "We've had two very hard play-off games, but with the result we got tonight we can very pleased, I am looking forward to the World Cup."