'It's like a dream' - Sven-Goran Eriksson on Anfield management opportunity

News'It's like a dream' - Sven-Goran Eriksson on Anfield management opportunity

By Glenn Price and Joe Urquhart


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Sven-Goran Eriksson described his emotions as he prepares to fulfil a long-held ambition of taking charge of a Liverpool side at Anfield.

The 76-year-old is part of Liverpool FC Legends' management team for Saturday's encounter with their AFC Ajax counterparts in the annual LFC Foundation charity match.

Eriksson's love for the Reds was passed down to him by his father in his native Sweden and numerous visits to Merseyside during his distinguished managerial career further cemented that connection to the club.

Speaking at a press conference today to preview the occasion, he said: "My father was a Liverpool fan, he's still a Liverpool fan – he still lives – so it came from there.

"Then in Sweden they started [a TV show] so every Saturday you could see one game. This is when all the games went on Saturday, so Liverpool, Liverpool.

"[In] '79, something like that I think, I wrote to the club and asked if I could come to see a training session. They answered and invited me. I saw a game and saw some training, I had the honour to go into the Boot Room of Liverpool at that time and that was great, fantastic.

"Many, many years Liverpool dominated the football in Europe. I played them twice with Benfica. We lost here 1-0, so we went back and said, 'Now we take them in the second [leg].' It was a quarter-final in the European Cup. We lost 5-1 at home! They are still doing great."

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On being in the Anfield dugout alongside John Aldridge, John Barnes and Ian Rush, he continued: "It's like a dream and I could never have dreamt about that.

"But when I was manager, I always dreamt about Liverpool but it never happened. It was close once. There were some discussions once. It was many years ago. It never happened but now it happens.

"When they asked [for the legends game], I thought it was a joke. I said, 'Of course I will come to that.' And then it's a charity [game], which makes it even more lovely. It will be great to see.

"I think it must be the best atmosphere in the world in all the football stadiums I've been to.

"Part of that is the song when the players come out, You'll Never Walk Alone. That makes me like this [rubs arm] even today and I've seen it live so many times and on television. The atmosphere is incredible."

Nearly 60,000 spectators are set to be inside a sold-out Anfield for the 3pm GMT kick-off.

The money raised from the day will support a range of LFC Foundation programmes to help change lives, along with Forever Reds, the club's official former players association.

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Barnes said: "The most important thing, as Sven has said, is the foundation.

"They've helped 120,000 people this year and as much as we're all here today because it's a big game and we love it, the foundation is [there] every single week, every single day with the work that they actually do and that's what we have to appreciate.

"Everyone just looks at this and thinks that this is a one-off. It might be a one-off in terms of raising the money, but in terms of the work that they actually do, keeping kids off the street, as I said, [helping] over 120,000 people and raising over £2 million for ongoing work with charitable organisations in Liverpool, this is the unseen work that no-one sees.

"For me, this is what Liverpool FC is all about... in terms of giving back to the community, which is a lot of unseen work that a lot of people don't know about.

“The more we can shout it from the rooftops on an occasion like this, but also focus on the fact that this is not it, this is where we're going to get some money to continue the work that is done every single day at schools, charities and organisations.

"I think that's really the message I want to give, because people think they've turned up for one day and they're going to make money and that's it. They don't see the work that is done by people every single day who no-one knows about, which I think we should be shouting about.

"It also supports the former players. A lot of it goes to them as well because, of course, as players get older they have issues, as we all do, and I think that side of football was probably neglected maybe 10 or 15 years ago. The old adage that when you finish, you're gone, and you see so many old players who just disappeared and no-one really thought about them.

"Liverpool are very strong in supporting the old players and we still see them every week when they come in and some of them are much older than me and it's good to see the foundation does support that as well."

  • Watch LFC Legends v Ajax Legends live on the club's official Facebook and YouTube channels, while existing subscribers can also tune in on LFCTV and LFCTV GO - with fans able to donate here


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