Tottenham, Denmark striker Christian Eriksen ready to 'light up' World Cup
DUBLIN -- After his playoff hat trick against Ireland powered his country to next year's World Cup finals, Denmark talisman Christian Eriksen is determined to make the most of playing in Russia next summer.
"There are so many other players doing very well, so it's difficult to say if you are in the top 10 or five," he told reporters. "I'm just a player who tries to do his best and be up there."
In Dublin on Tuesday, Eriksen's treble fired Denmark to a 5-1 win, and he acknowledged the influence of playing for Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham on his excellent form.
"For Spurs, the success we have had over the last few seasons has helped me a lot," he said. "That is something you want to take with you into the game. My career has been going upwards and to be here, scoring a hat trick in a playoff, means a lot."
The 25-year-old will be playing in his second World Cup finals, having been the youngest player at South Africa 2010 as an 18-year-old.
"It did pass me by," he said of the 2010 finals. "My best memory of that is the Holland game, my first game on the biggest stage at the World Cup [a 2-0 loss in Johannesburg]. I badly want to be there, luckily that's going to happen.
"If I take this game to the tournament -- three goals a game -- then yeah, I'll definitely light up the World Cup."
Teammate Nicklas Bendtner, who notched Denmark's fifth goal in Ireland, said: "Christian will certainly be one to watch at the World Cup next year.
"He has shown his greatness with fantastic performances for Tottenham and Denmark. He has grown into a leader for us and takes a lot of responsibility. He is the guy who makes any team he plays for tick. Those players are worth their weight in gold.
"Can you compare him to the greatest in the game? I think that is difficult but he is definitely up there with some of the best players in the world."
And to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Lionel Messi or Neymar, Bendtner said Eriksen needed to sustain his form: "You ask me to compare him to Messi but it is not a one-year thing.
"These guys have been doing it for five, six, seven years. Christian has done amazingly this year and if he keeps going the same way, then you can start comparing him to these big players. The greatest players keep doing it year after year after year."
As well as scoring goals, Eriksen is Denmark's key playmaker.
"I know if I make a run and he has time on the ball, he is going to find me," said Bendtner, the former Arsenal striker now plays for Rosenborg in Norway.
"That's the way he plays. He is not a selfish player. He will play you in if that's on but also has an eye for goal."
John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.