As we all know, England faced Sweden in their second match of Euro 2012 tonight (15/06/12). Earlier on Friday, the Swedes named their starting eleven for their group D clash with Roy Hodgson’s men.
Whilst looking through the team, I noticed a certain man that is known to the English game especially on the South-Coast. All Southampton supporters will remember the days of Anders Svensson controlling the midfield under Gordon Strachan’s watch and also played a part in The Saints’ historic FA Cup run of 2003 where they reached the final, only to lose 1-0 to Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium.
As a Saints fan myself, I regarded Anders as one of my favourite players at the time as I watched from the stands at St. Marys, as he controlled the Southampton midfield and fed the strikers for opportunities on goal.
Having joined club in 2001 for a reasonable price of £750,000 from IF Elfsborg, he went on to make 127 appearances and scoring 10 goals in the four year stay at Saints. He played a pivotal part in his stay with the club and was a regular starter in Stachan’s starting eleven.
One of the goals I remember him scoring was an FA Cup match in the 2002/2003 season against Tottenham Hotspurs. It was live in front of the television cameras and although recent events show, we haven’t exactly got the best record live on the box, but Saints ran out 4-0 winners on route to the cup final. Why I remember this goal from him specifically well is because it was such a beautiful individual piece of skill.
He picked the ball up from inside his own half and just ran with it. The Spurs midfield and defence parted like the Red Sea and he buried the ball into the bottom corner from a great strike from outside the box. Pure Genius in my opinion.
When Harry Redknapp took over at Saints, Anders found himself limited to first team football and when we were relegated from the Premier League in 2005, he was offered a new contract to stay with us, but rejected the new deal and returned to IF Elfsborg where he still remains today.
At 35, he still plays top flight football for IF Elfsborg in Sweden where he is the club captain. But his career started off pretty young where he started playing in the youth set up for his hometown club, Gothenburg where he stayed their for 10 years until he moved to IF Elfsborg.
His International career started off in 1999 where he won his first cap against South Africa. But, he stared getting noticed on the International scene in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Obviously Southampton supporters knew what the offensive midfielder was capable of, but he showed the world what he could do by scoring sublime direct free-kicks, especially against Argentina in the group stages.
Euro 2012 is Svensson’s fifth International tournament after playing in the World Cups of 2002 and 2010 and the European Championships of 2004 and 2008. He has become co-captain of the Swedish national side along with sriker Zoltan Ibrahamovich. Since the start of his International career, he has won an impressive 128 caps for Sweden which is the second highest appearance record, behind former goalkeeper, Thomas Ravelli who has 143 caps.
In his 14 year stay in the international fold, Anders has scored 18 goals, with his first coming in a 2002 World Cup qualifying match against Azerbaijan.The Swede has never scored an international goal against England and let that continue in the Group D match in Ukraine.
Svensson it seems has become a national hero in footballing terms for Sweden with his record caps and service to his country and not many English fans, apart from Southampton supporters, will truly understand the quality of football he provides to the teams he plays for.