Stockholm (AFP) – Erik Hamren will be bidding to bow out on a high as Sweden coach when he leads the Scandinavian nation into Euro 2016.
Hamren, who will turn 59 on June 27, five days after Sweden’s final Group E game, announced that he will depart after the European Championship ending a six and a half year stint as coach. The Swedish Football Association has lined up Janne Andersson as his successor.
Andersson is the man of the moment in Sweden, having led Norrkoping to a first national title in a quarter of a century last year.
Hamren admits he has had “the best job in Swedish football”, but what legacy he leaves will be determined by how the Blagult (Blue-Yellows) perform in France.
He succeeded Lars Lagerback in November 2009, initially combining his duties with his role as coach of Norwegian side Rosenborg, after Sweden failed to reach the 2010 World Cup.
Under his stewardship, Sweden went to Euro 2012 but lost their first two matches and were already out by the time they beat France 2-0 in their last game.
“The operation went well but the patient died,” he later said of his side’s showing in Ukraine.
A play-off defeat to Portugal denied them a place at the 2014 World Cup after a qualifying campaign which will be best remembered for Sweden’s recovery from four goals down to draw 4-4 with Germany in Berlin.
Qualifying for this year’s finals was not easy. Sweden finished third in their group behind Austria and Russia before Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired them to a play-off win over neighbours Denmark.
That was the latest success in a long career in management for Hamren, who only played the game until his late teens before focusing on becoming a coach.
From Ljusdal, a small town north of Stockholm better known for the winter sport bandy than football, Hamren made his name as the coach of the AIK team that won back-to-back Swedish Cups in 1996 and 1997.
– Cigars –
He later won another Cup with Gothenburg side Orgryte in 2000 before going on to enjoy success abroad.
There was a Danish title with Aalborg in 2008, just the third in their history, before he moved to Norway to join Rosenborg.
The Trondheim side had been Scandinavia’s leading club side but had been in decline until Hamren transformed their fortunes.
In his first full season in Norway in 2009 Hamren led Rosenborg to the title, and the chance to return home and take charge of his country followed.
“Above all, it’s a huge experience for me as a coach and also as a person to work abroad.
“I think it’s done a lot for me to reside in a different country,” Hamren, who is often seen sporting a three-piece suit and enjoys celebrating victories by smoking on a cigar, once told UEFA.com.
Hamren has got the best out of Ibrahimovic in the striker’s peak years and will hope the departing Paris Saint-Germain star can help Sweden progress from the group stage, even if he is eager to stress the collective effort.
“For me the team is extremely important. It has to be the whole team out on the pitch that does the job, not just some individual players,” says Hamren.
Sweden must face Ireland, Italy and Belgium in Group E at the Euros, and Hamren knows it will be a big ask.
“If you are realistic, we won’t progress out of the group. But why do you need to be a realist all the time?” he said in an interview with insidefutbol.com.
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