Three goals in Sunday's Dutch classic against AFC Ajax again underlined the class of Sweden Under-21 striker John Guidetti. On loan from Manchester City FC, the 19-year-old is dazzling at Feyenoord and has now scored two Eredivisie hat-tricks – having come a long way from playing barefoot on the streets of Nairobi.
Although born in Stockholm, Guidetti lived in Kenya with his parents for two spells of his childhood, and started his footballing education in Africa. "We lived in a wealthy area where nobody knew how to play," he told UEFA.com. "So my dad and I would go looking for the best football in town." They found it on the streets of Kibera, the biggest slum in the Kenyan capital.
The Guidettis were embraced by local club Impala Black Stars Kibera, where John got used to playing barefoot. "I barely wore shoes for two years – that toughens up your feet," he recalled. "I went down this December with 80 kilos of football equipment for the team," said Guidetti. "But my plans are much bigger than that. We want to build an artificial pitch in Kibera and a school too. That's my dream."
On returning to Stockholm, Guidetti rejoined local side IF Brommapojkarna, renowned for having one of the best youth systems in Sweden. By 16 he was on his travels again, this time to Manchester City, where compatriot Sven-Göran Eriksson had been tipped off about his potential. He eventually earned a spot in Roberto Mancini's star-studded squad, but was loaned out this season to get more first-team football.
Feyenoord have proved a great match for Guidetti – he has scored 14 times in 13 league appearances and was recently named the Eredivisie's "cult hero" by Dutch magazine Voetbal International. The warm feelings are mutual: "
I'm really enjoying playing in the Netherlands. Feyenoord feels like a big family and Rotterdam is a city passionate about football."
With every goal, fans and journalists back home in Sweden are pushing harder for Guidetti to be considered for UEFA EURO 2012. He is yet to make his debut, but Guidetti is an optimist – and not without reason. "I only know what the media reports," he said. "Apparently, Sweden coach Erik Hamrén has said he has his eye on me."
If selected, he would become better acquainted with another Swedish forward who made the breakthrough in the Dutch league. "I've had no personal contact with Zlatan [Ibrahimović] but he's told Dutch reporters this is a good league for me to develop in," said Guidetti. "
It feels bizarre that he even knows who I am. But then again, it's probably a good thing for him to know the name of his future strike partner!"
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