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As a Christian priest – and a lifelong Brentford supporter – I’m a strong believer in resurrection.

How else to explain the club’s return to the top-flight of English football after 74 years?

Or the packed crowds at the sparkling new Brentford Community Stadium, after decades of varying attendances in lower leagues at our much-loved former home at Griffin Park.

But the news of Danish international Christian Eriksen’s ‘miraculous’ return to football being made with Brentford brings new life to the idea of resurrection. I’m pinching myself just looking at the photos of Eriksen training at the club that have gone viral this week.

The papers are talking about his ‘fairy tale’ return less than eight months after collapsing during the first match of the Euro 2020 tournament in June. Football fans around the world watched in horror as it looked like Eriksen had died on the pitch. I reckon lots of prayers were being said.

Brentford coach and fellow Dane Thomas Frank has said “It’s potentially the greatest signing ever for the club. The day that Christian steps onto the pitch will be an unbelievable day. What happened to him in June was a shock for all of us. To see him out on the pitch soon is going to be a big day.” He added: “It is a little bit of a miracle…”

So I have three prayers for Ericksen’s ‘miraculous’ return:

  • That all fans of all clubs will applaud and cheer when Eriksen returns to the pitch. Football wins when we stand together to recognise Eriksen’s massive achievement, physically, mentally and emotionally.
  • That all Brentford fans recognise the club’s major coup in drawing Eriksen to Brentford, the vital role played by Thomas Frank in securing the deal, and the opportunity that our ‘bus stop in Hounslow’ is providing to Eriksen to get back to world-class performance.
  • That each of us – and especially young people – will be inspired by Eriksen’s determination to return to the sport he loves, when once it seemed lost to him. What can I overcome, if Christian Eriksen can do that?

Just before that frustrating home match against Wolves in January, when heads collided, a drone stopped play and Thomas Frank got a red card after the game finished, the crowd was introduced to a group of Afghan women footballers. They had fled their country to continue playing their sport.

Their faces and their presence put the awfulness of that afternoon into sharp context. It underlined how football is much bigger than one match, one club and even country borders.

Christian Eriksen’s achievement and ‘resurrection’ to play football again, and the Afghan women enjoying freedom in our super new stadium, speak volumes for the power of the beautiful game.
Let’s all give thanks that we’re part of a club where new life, and new beginnings can take place.

Rev Peter Crumpler
Rev Peter Crumpler is a Church of England minister in St Albans, Herts. He grew up within earshot of Griffin Park and is a season ticket holder at the new stadium.