Mumbai: Even before Denmark began their trip to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, all eyes were on Tottenham Hotspurs playmaker Christian Eriksen, who single-handedly took his team to the biggest sporting event.
While the spotlight was firmly placed on Denmark's midfield general, this 24-year-old striker has been quietly making his presence felt in the national setup.
Making his first appearance in the World Cup, Yossuf Yurrary Poulsen almost ended conceding a goal against Peru, which could have put Denmark's campaign in trouble. With Christian Cueves failing to hit the mark, Poulsen made the chance count presented to him by Eriksen as he scored the match-winning goal for his side.
Turning into an overnight hero for his country in Russia, the who plays for Red Bull Leipzig in German Bundesliga spoke about his teammate Christian Eriksen and Denmark's chances in the competition.
Excerpts from the interview
Does the current team have a chance to emulate the heroics of 1992?
Football is an unpredictable sport, in 1992 no one gave us a chance and we were able to win the European championship to everyone’s surprise. The current team has the talent and potential to repeat the same heroics. We have a great squad and we believe in togetherness. Although, it will be tough as there are many top sides in the World Cup, but we have to remain focused on our goal.
Many call Denmark a one-man team because of Christian Eriksen. Are y’all keen to dismiss that tag in the World Cup?
Christian Eriksen is a world-class player. He is our best player no doubt, but to call us a one-man team would be wrong. We are a talented squad and we believe in each other’s game.
We are lucky to have a genius like Eriksen in our team, in fact, he set me up for my first world cup goal, so I am delighted but football is a team sport and we want to prove that in Russia.
Denmark is placed in a tight group. How difficult is it going to be and what is the target?
We are in a tough group with France, Australia, and Peru. The French come into the tournament as favorites and have many talented players.
Australia proved in their first game that they’re well-conditioned and organized at the back. They cannot be taken lightly. Peru really pushed us but we are extremely delighted to win and scoring the winning goal in the game was a special feeling.
We would like to take it one game at a time and focus without looking too far ahead. We obviously want to bring glory to our nation; we are not here just to fill up the numbers.
You have expressed your admiration for Liverpool and the Premier League. Do you think now is the right time to take your career a step ahead?
The Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world. My best friend was a childhood Liverpool fan and hence I followed the club too. They had an incredible season in the Champions League and have quality players. Although, I am happy at RB Leipzig (team owned by Red Bull) the future is unpredictable. Currently, I am focused only on the World Cup and the Danish national team.
You lost your father at a young age. How difficult was your upbringing and pursuing the dream of becoming a footballer?
It was a big loss for our family. I was just 4 years old when my father passed away. It was really hard initially to overcome a loss of such magnitude, but life moves on. I had the support of my family who encouraged me to become a professional footballer. I am what I am because of the support of my loved ones.