Abu Dhabi: Sweden coach Roland Larsson revealed that a pre-match pep talk from legendary compatriot Tomas Brolin helped his team power past Argentina 4-1 in the Fifa Under-17 World Cup third place play-off on Friday.
A hat-trick from tournament top-scorer Valmir Berisha and a Carlos Strandberg strike saw the Swedes ease past the South Americans at the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium. And afterwards Larsson revealed that 47-cap former playmaker Brolin, who played for Parma in Serie A and Leeds United in the English Premier League in the 1990s and was named in the 1994 World Cup All Star team after helping the nation finish third, had spoken to the young players, telling them they could beat Argentina and that they should believe in themselves.
“Tomas’ phone call gave the players motivation before the match and it was such a kind gesture from a great player,” Larsson said.
The coach added that beating Argentina so convincingly came as a pleasant surprise. “Before this tournament, if I was dreaming that we would beat Argentina 1-0 I would wake up and say ‘oh, it was just a dream’,” he said. “But today [Friday] we beat them 4-1 and it was really more than my wildest dreams.
“I am grateful to my players, who fought well and deserved to trounce Argentina. They gave me the best gift in my last task with the team because I will take over the Sweden Under-15 team and I am proud to leave this team with such an honourable achievement.
“This generation of players are the bright future for Swedish football and I wish them all the luck in their careers.”
He continued: “We had a great 25 minutes in which we did everything right and adchieved our objectives as we scored three goals. The match was decided by the 25th minute as our players put it beyond the reach of the opponents.
“This tournament was the best experience for us — members of the technical staff and players — and we have benefited greatly from it and we are sure more matured and qualified than before it.
“We will return home with beautiful memories, bronze medals as the best third team in the world in this age category, and we will surely find a warm reception from our people in Sweden.”