Wales new boy James Lawrence has urged Ryan Giggs’ side to show “no mercy” to his old Ajax buddy Christian Eriksen.
Lawrence and Tottenham star Eriksen will be in rival camps when Wales play Denmark in their crunch Nations League clash on Friday, but they were great friends during their time together at the Ajax Academy.
The pair lived across the road from each other in Amsterdam and Eriksen was a regular visitor to the Lawrence family home, where chilli con carne was on the menu and FIFA was on the console.
“We were close friends,” said uncapped Anderlecht defender Lawrence, who had never stepped foot in Wales before linking up with Giggs’ squad this week.
“Christian was looking for a place in Amsterdam and he was very interested in the area where I was living.
“I gave him the contact details and he actually came to live across the road from me.
“He was living alone at the time and we’d meet up for dinner and games of FIFA.
“Every time he’d hear chilli con carne was on the menu he’d be over to ours knocking on the door. My dad Steve’s chilli is top quality.”
Eriksen was in touch with his old Ajax pal as soon as Lawrence’s surprise first Wales call up was announced last week.
“I got a message from him saying ‘See you Friday!'” Lawrence said.
“It was good fun to hear from him. Everyone knew from the moment he came in at Ajax that he was going to do big things.
“He’s obviously a huge player for Denmark, but we’ve got to show him no mercy.”
While midfielder Eriksen has gone on to have a celebrated career for club and country, the road to international football has been a lot bumpier for Lawrence.
The former Arsenal and QPR youth team player had a health scare at Ajax which saw him require heart surgery.
Lawrence was diagnosed with tachycardia, where his heart rate would worryingly race during training, and he would move on to Sparta Rotterdam and Waalwijk in Holland.
He then spent four years at Slovakian club AC Trencin before moving to Belgium in August, where he has since established himself as an Anderlecht regular.
“I’ve had quite a journey,” said Lawrence, who is expected to make his debut in next week’s friendly in Albania.
“But I couldn’t be happier at the timing. I’ve developed myself to a level where I think it’s possible now.
“Before I was still searching for myself in Europe. I was in Slovakia, but I’ve now moved to a top quality club and I’m at a high level.
“I’m playing regularly and this is a really good time for me.”