Anders Svensson (footballer, born 1976)
Svensson playing for Elfsborg in 2012
|Full name||Anders Gunnar Svensson|
|Date of birth||17 July 1976|
|Place of birth||Gothenburg, Sweden|
|Height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Anders Gunnar Svensson (Swedish pronunciation: [²anːdɛʂ ¹svɛnːsɔn]; born 17 July 1976) is a Swedish former footballer. He was a playmaker and a central midfielder, known for his passing, free kicks, and set piece abilities. He was capped 148 times for the Swedish national football team, many times as a captain, before he retired from international football in 2013. He is the most capped male player for Sweden, beating Thomas Ravelli's previous record of 143 caps.
As well as being named captain of Sweden on several occasions, Svensson also captained Southampton and Elfsborg. He played important roles in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, in which he proved his leadership skills, resulting in him being named captain of Sweden in 2009.
He is the sixth most capped player in Europe after Iker Casillas, Lothar Matthäus, Vitālijs Astafjevs, Martin Reim, and Gianluigi Buffon. Svensson also represented the Swedish national football team for three consecutive European Championships in 2004, 2008, and 2012.
Svensson was born on 17 July 1976 in Gothenburg to parents Bertil and Gun Svensson. Svensson has three brothers, the oldest one, Thomas, Kristoffer, and the youngest one, Marcus. His father Bertil was his coach at Guldhedens IK. He grew up watching English football on television, and when he finally played the game, he was compared with one of the best talents of English football David Beckham. In 1980, Svensson played for Guldhedens IK, where he played for ten years.
As his role on the pitch was that of an offensive midfielder, although at Southampton he also played on the left side of midfield. He made his breakthrough while playing for IF Elfsborg in the late 1990s before moving to English side Southampton in 2001.
Svensson moved to Southampton on 14 June 2001 for a £750,000 transfer fee. In the very first year of his Premier League adventure, Svensson scored 4 goals in 35 appearances for the Saints, and the club finished 11th place, missing the UEFA Cup participation by just 1 point. In England, he was a key player for Southampton; although near the end of his time with the club, he rarely cracked Gordon Strachan's starting-11. He played an important role for Southampton in their success for the 2002–03 FA Cup. Their opening match was a 4–0 win against fellow league club Tottenham Hotspur. Svensson scored a goal along with other goal scorers Michael Svensson, Jo Tessem, and James Beattie, taking the club to second straight victory against Tottenham, having beaten them on New Year's Day in the league. He played for Southampton in the 2003 FA Cup Final against Arsenal, which Southampton lost 1–0. Svensson also played the 2003–04 UEFA Cup for the Saints, but the club was knocked out of the tournament in the first round.
During his time for the Saints, Svensson made 140 appearances. Despite chairman Rupert Lowe allegedly offering a new contract, Svensson turned down the offer in order to return to his former club IF Elfsborg.
Return to IF Elfsborg
He rejoined Elfsborg in 2005 and was the captain of the team until 2014, when he gave up the title to Johan Larsson. After another 10 years at IF Elfsborg Svensson decided to announce his retirement from professional football in 2015.
He was known for being a good free kick taker, which he showed in the 2002 World Cup in South Korea/Japan, where he scored a free kick goal against Argentina, which effectively eliminated the opponent in the group stages. He set up the opening goal for Henrik Larsson against Senegal through an in-swinging corner. He nearly scored a golden goal in extra time, but his shot from inside the box was denied by the post. He played for Sweden in the Euro 2004, as well as the 2006 World Cup.
However, he found form for the national team during the Euro 2008 qualifying stage. He played 11 games with 2 goals and 1 assist which led Sweden to the Euro 2008. Svensson played every minute of every game during Euro 2008, but did not find form. His frustration showed, conceding a few free kicks during their last game in the tournament. After Henrik Larsson retired, and Zlatan Ibrahimović declared that he was unsure about his future in the national team, Svensson was the team captain for Sweden in a friendly against Italy (0–1). After Ibrahimović returned to the national team in the summer of 2010, Svensson was named co-captain, although Ibrahimović remained official captain on the pitch.
On 6 September 2013, Svensson became the joint most capped male player in Swedish football history, equalling Thomas Ravelli's record with his 143rd cap; he would later claim the record for himself. It was to be a memorable night for Svensson, as he scored the winner as Sweden came from behind to beat Ireland 2–1. In November 2013, the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) sparked a sexism scandal at its annual awards Gala when it presented Svensson with a Volvo car for winning 146 caps. The governing body was widely criticised for failing to honour Therese Sjögran, who had 187 caps. After Sweden failed to win against Portugal in the play-offs for the World Cup 2014 in November 2013, Svensson decided to retire from international duty.
- Sweden score listed first, "Score" column indicates score after each Svensson goal.
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Svensson was in a two-year relationship with fashion designer Anine Bing while playing for Southampton. The pair met in London where she was modeling at the time.
Svensson married Emma Johansson in July 2007 at Thorsborgs.
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