DUBLIN • In-form Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Christian Eriksen has credited Arsenal great Dennis Bergkamp for playing a significant role in his 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 play-off win over Ireland, played under Bergkamp in the youth team at Dutch side Ajax before working his way up to the senior ranks in 2010.
The 25-year-old praised the former Netherlands international, who spent 11 years at Arsenal, for helping him rise to prominence ahead of Saturday's north London derby in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium.
"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' 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 learnt a lot from watching him and working with him. It helped me when I made it through to the first team."
On Tuesday, the Danes also benefited from an Andreas Christensen goal which cancelled out Shane Duffy's early header for Ireland.
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).
AGE HAREIDE, Denmark coach, purring over hat-trick hero Eriksen.
Nicklas Bendtner sealed the victory for Denmark with a late penalty but Eriksen stole the show.
"All the teams who go to the World Cup have star players and players who can make the difference and Christian showed that today," Denmark coach Age Hareide told a news conference.
"He's absolutely in the top 10 (players in the world). 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."
Eriksen, 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.
He 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 Argentinian.
"He has given stability not only to me but to the whole club. That's the main thing for a player.
"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 on Saturday in third position, eight points behind leaders Manchester City, while Arsenal sit in sixth place, a further four points back.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE