(Reuters) - In-form Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Christian Eriksen has credited Arsenal great Dennis Bergkamp for playing a significant role in the Dane’s creative development as a youth.
Eriksen, who helped Denmark seal qualification for the 2018 World Cup with a hat-trick in Tuesday’s 5-1 playoff win over Ireland, played under Bergkamp at Dutch side Ajax’s youth team before working his way up to the senior ranks in 2010.
The 25-year-old praised Bergkamp, who spent 11 years at Arsenal, for helping him rise to prominence ahead of Saturday’s Premier League showdown between the local rivals at the Emirates.
“In my first year at Ajax we had some sessions with Dennis Bergkamp and Wim Jonk,” Eriksen, who joined Tottenham in 2013, told Sky Sports.
”Even then, you could always see Dennis’s charisma and confidence on the ball. He always knew how to take his first touch and where the ball needed to end up afterwards.
“I learned a lot from watching him and working with him. It helped me when I made it through to the first team.”
The Dane, along with forwards Harry Kane and Dele Alli, has been instrumental in Tottenham’s emergence as a domestic and European force under manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Eriksen has continued his stellar form for Tottenham this campaign, scoring four goals and providing as many assists in 15 appearances, and praised Pochettino for building a solid system at the club.
”He trusts me completely. You feel that trust and it makes you want to do everything for him,“ Eriksen added of the Argentine. ”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.
“All the players have long-term contracts. They feel safe being here. It’s why you commit your future to a place like this.”
Tottenham head into the north London derby in third position, eight points behind leaders Manchester City, while Arsenal sit in sixth place, a further four points back.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru