Freddie Ljungberg: A Tribute to a Football Legend

So another legend of the game has decided to call it a day on their football career. This blog comes on the back of the recent announcement from Arsenal legend Fredrik (Freddie) Ljungberg. The Swedish international decided to retire after 18 years in the game.

Ljungberg said upon retirement, ‘It’s still fun to play the big games, but when you no longer have the motivation for training then it’s time to call it quits, I’m grateful for everything football has given me and all of the fantastic people I’ve met during my career’

Freddie Ljungberg was born on 16th April 1977 in Vittsjö, Sweden. In 1989 at the age of 12 he joined Swedish club Halmstads BK , where in 1994 he made his debut in the senior team in a game against AIK. That very year Halmstads BK went on to win the Swedish Cup and  the Allsvenskan league title 3 years later. Ljungberg made a total of 92 games for Halmstads scoring 11 goals.

In 1998 Ljungberg was signed by Arsenal for a fee of £3 million. Arsene Wenger was a huge admirer of Freddie after watching him play for his country and signed him. Ljungberg instantly made an impact as he scored on his debut on 20 September after coming on as a substitute against rival club Manchester United, the match ending 3–0 . He immediately became a popular figure amongst Arsenal fans.

He was a natural gifted winger who loved to take on defenders and was that little menace that opposition defenders hated, popping up in the box unmarked on many occasions and sneaking a goal for the Gunners.

Ljungberg scored many important goals for the gunners. He was the first player to score a goal at an FA Cup final outside England, when Arsenal lost against Liverpool in 2001 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. A year later, against Chelsea, he became the first player to score in consecutive FA Cup Finals. He also scored a penalty in the shootout in Arsenal’s 2005 FA Cup Final victory over Manchester United.

Freddie was famous for his iconic hair-do as he proudly wore the red stripe through his hair. A popular chant amongst Arsenal fans was directed at the Swedes outrageous hair-style:

“We love you Freddie, because you’ve got red hair, we love you Freddie because you’re everywhere, we love you Freddie, you’re Arsenal through and through.”

Ljungberg played a total of 339 games for Arsenal scoring 73 goals. During his time with the Gunners he won 2 Premier League titles, 3 F.A Cups and 3 F.A Community Shields. Freddie was also part of Arsenal’s famous invincibles team that won the title in 2003- 2004 by going 49 games unbeaten. This team has gone down in Premier League history by being named the best Premier League team ever witnessed.

Since leaving Arsenal in 2007, Freddie has played for many clubs around the world such as West Ham United, Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire, Celtic and Shimizu S-Pulse.

Freddie was also a Swedish international and a legend for his country. Ljungberg made his international debut in 1998 against the United States . Ljungberg has represented his country at Euro 2000, the 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004, the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008. Freddie represented Sweden in the Korea/Japan World Cup in 2002. Ljungberg was suffering from a hip injury which prevented him from playing in most of the games.

However, Ljungberg did muster the strength to play against England on 2 June 2002 and Nigeria on 7 June 2002 despite the pain. In the 2006 World Cup, Ljungberg was named the Golden Ball winner for helping Sweden advance to the next round in the World Cup by heading in the game-winning goal against Paraguay. Freddie Ljungberg played a total of 75 games for his country scoring 14 goals.

Outside of football, Ljungberg was involved in many other projects. Ljungberg was a model for Calvin Klein underwear until 2007 and modeled for many Swedish magazines and was a hit with the female fanbase of the clubs he played for. He recieved many personal honours such as Sexiest Player in the Premier League voted by The Sun (2007) and E! (Entertainment Channel, USA) among the Sexiest Men in the World (2008)

On 27 June 2008 Ljungberg announced that he was ending his 10 – year career for the national team and on the 24 August 2012 Ljungberg announced his retirement from football.

Not only as an Arsenal fan, but a football fan in general I was delighted to have the pleasure of watching such a talented footballer in action and I wish him all the best for the future.

 

Written by Arran Farrell

Follow me on Twitter @ArranAFC29

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