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Sven Goran Eriksson - 'Feeling At Home'

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.

 

In 2001 the English Football Association appointed the first foreign coach to an England team amid mixed reactions from the nation. Sven Goran Eriksson, a Swedish national, talks to footballculture.net about his relationship with football in his home country, and how he has also settled down in England.
 
How aware were you of the debate about appointing a foreign manager to the England team? How did it make you feel?
 
"I only became aware of the discussions surrounding the appointment of a foreign manager when I arrived in England to take up the job. I wasn't surprised by the reaction because a lot of people felt very strongly about it. But I must say that the response from everyone in the game - and particularly the fans - has been very warm. Everywhere I go to watch matches, people are very friendly and that has been the same since the day I arrived."
 
Do you think your appointment has raised the profile of English soccer in Sweden, and if so, how?
 
"English football has always been very popular in Sweden. For many years now, many people in Sweden have watched Premier League matches live on television and, as a result, English players are very well known all over the country. When England play, our matches are shown live in Sweden and attract a big audience."
 
Have you ever had ambitions to coach the Swedish team? If so, how do you think the role would differ from managing England?
 
"I have never had the opportunity to coach the Swedish national side but I enjoyed my time in club football. Since that time, I have spent many years out of my native country coaching in many other parts of Europe."
 
Would there be a similar debate in Sweden if an English coach was appointed to their national team?
 
"I am sure some people in Sweden would react negatively if an Englishman was appointed to coach the national side. But in football, the only thing that matters is results and if that person proved to be a success, I'm sure he would be embraced with open arms!"
 
How do the two countries differ in their national followings and how are they similar?
 
"Sweden has a much smaller population than England but there is, of course, strong support for the national side. In England, the league is much stronger and in general, clubs have a much bigger impact on the major European competitions like the Champions' League, than they do in Sweden. I have never seen such enthusiastic crowds as those here in England - and the clubs also have magnificent stadiums."
 
Where do you feel most at home (Italy, England, Sweden, other)?
 
"I think if you're a coach and you spend a lot of time abroad like I have, you get used to the surroundings where you're coaching. I have enjoyed Sweden, Portugal and Italy over the years - and now I most definitely feel at home in England!"
 
In which country have you most enjoyed coaching?
 
"It's difficult to make comparisons from country to country – the most important thing for all clubs and national teams is success. I've always said it's an honour for me to coach England and I'm looking forward at this moment to the rest of our campaign in the European championship qualifiers."

 

 

Tony Grimes, December 2002

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