Success of Swedish coach: “People opened the door”



Tony Gustavsson ahead of an international match against Sweden in Kalmar this summer.  Stock Photography.


© Jonas Ekströmer / TT
Tony Gustavsson ahead of an international match against Sweden in Kalmar this summer. Stock Photography.

A football match between two leading nations. Captains of the Swedish national team in both teams.

The international match between Australia and Brazil is proof of the Swedish staff.

The reason I’m here isn’t because I’m so divinely good, but because the people before me have opened the door, says Australian national team captain Tony Gustavsson.

On the one hand: Tony Gustavsson. On the other: Pia Sundhage.

It would be easy to think that there is something remarkable about Saturday’s international game in the Sydney suburbs, where two football-heavy nations like Australia and Brazil are both led by Swedes.

But on the women’s side, it’s not that strange. Besides the two countries mentioned, several other high-level countries have Swedish national team captains, such as Peter Gerhardsson (Sweden), Martin Sjögren (Norway) and Anna Signeul (Finland).



Pia Sundhage.  Stock Photography.


© Other pens / AP / TT
Pia Sundhage. Stock Photography.

“We started early”

Similar things are starting to happen on the club side, with Jonas Eidevall in Super League leaders Arsenal as the latest example.

– I don’t know why, said Brazil national team captain Pia Sundhage.

– But if you take women’s football, we have been at the forefront for quite a while, we started early, that is to say already in 1973 (first official international match). So there is a factor.

Sundhage was captain of the Swedish national team 2012-2017 and also made a short stint as assistant captain of the national team of the current Swedish national team manager Marika Domanski-Lyfors in China in 2007 However, Sundhage enjoyed his greatest success as captain of the national team. for the best national team in the world, the United States, where she won the double Olympic gold medal. While in the United States, she had Tony Gustavsson as an assistant in the 2012 Olympics, then returned to the same role after Jill Ellis replaced Sundhage.



The captain of the Swedish national team from Norway, Martin Sjögren.  Stock Photography.


© Jonas Ekströmer / TT
The captain of the Swedish national team from Norway, Martin Sjögren. Stock Photography.

Gustavsson, who has led the Australian Olympic quartet since the start of the year, also did not give an explanation that there are so many blue and yellow national team captains at a high level. But people like Pia Sundhage have at least contributed, he says.

I hope to inspire others

– The reason I am here is not because I am so good heavenly, but because the people before me opened the door and did well. While international football has seen that we Swedish coaches can probably do well. So it’s just to thank those who came before me, says Gustavsson.

– If I can then help open the door for future coaches, I hope I can. I think it’s a lot of fun for Swedish football that we have international coaches.

In any case, Norwegian national team captain Martin Sjögren doesn’t think it’s a coincidence. Like Sundhage, he points out that Sweden was a pioneer country.

– We were very early on in women’s football in Sweden very early on, so I think part of it is that we have a lot of coaches around the world, Sjögren explains.

Focus on the ladies

Many Swedish coaches have also focused specifically on women’s teams, which may be another explanation, Sjögren explains.

– It was Tony who was on the women’s side and the men’s side, but otherwise we have a lot of experience of being on the women’s side and we are well established there. Then I also think that it will be the case that the offers appear.

Pia Sundhage also emphasizes the quality of accepting the offer when it arises, as a possible explanation for the Swedish technical staff. That, and the training of the coaches of the Swedish Football Association.

– For my part, it is precisely education and above all that I said yes. If someone starts to say yes and takes a polar bear with them, then …

– If you take Tony Gustavsson, for example, there’s a reason he’s where he is today. Among other things, he said yes to dating me last month before the Olympics (2012) and then he said yes to Jill Ellis again. There is of course a network of contacts that has grown.

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