Denmark hail hat-trick hero Eriksen
Coach Hareide calls Tottenham playmaker one of the world's top 10 players after Danes book World Cup slot
Denmark have been crying out for a football superstar since Brian Laudrup last terrorised defences at the 1992 European Championship, and they may have found a genuine successor.
Christian Eriksen emerged as the hero of Denmark's World Cup qualifying campaign yesterday morning (Singapore time), when he fired in a hat-trick to help his nation clinch a stunning 5-1 play-off second-leg win over Ireland in Dublin.
In fact, so impressive has he been for Denmark and Tottenham Hotspur this season that his national coach Age Hareide believes he is going to next year's World Cup with one of the world's top 10 players.
Said Hareide, whose side had slogged to a 0-0 draw in Copenhagen in the first leg: "All the teams who go to the World Cup have star players and players who can make the difference and Christian showed that today.
"He's absolutely in the top 10 (players in the world).
"We saw it against Real Madrid, he's probably one of the best players in his position in Europe at the moment.
"He has this capability of scoring goals, making assists and finding space."
Denmark's last and only major trophy came during Euro 1992, when Laudrup, Peter Schmeichel and gang led the underdogs to the title in Sweden.
But, with Eriksen, 25, now starting to show consistency in his performances, Denmark will be forgiven for thinking they could be the dark horses in Russia next year.
It isn't just on the international stage that Eriksen has been dominating matches.
He has continued his stellar form for Tottenham this campaign, scoring four goals and providing as many assists in 15 appearances.
The playmaker credited Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino for his displays.
"He trusts me completely. You feel that trust and it makes you want to do everything for him," Eriksen said of the Argentinian.
"He has given stability not only to me, but to the whole club. That's the main thing for a player.
"You feel comfortable, you feel aware of everything around you and you don't think about anything other than football when you're on the pitch."
Ireland's vociferous home crowd at the Aviva Stadium were in seventh heaven when Shane Duffy gave the hosts a sixth-minute lead.
But Martin O'Neill's men simply had no answer to Denmark's stirring comeback, courtesy of an Eriksen hat-trick sandwiched by Andreas Christensen's equaliser and Nicklas Bendtner's late penalty.
O'Neill vowed that Ireland would bounce back from the worst defeat of his four-year reign when they begin their quest to reach a third European Championship finals in a row.
"We've lost a play-off game and we'll come back again," O'Neill promised. "This is hard work and we've only been beaten four times in 24 competitive matches since I came in."
"We gave away two sloppy goals in the space of a few minutes and it was a long way back after that," he added.
"For their first goal, Harry (Arter) got beaten but we should have cleared the ball and the second goal is just a comedy of mistakes.
"The whole mindset changes because six or seven minutes earlier, we could have been two goals up." - WIRE SERVICES