Malmö FF's UEFA Champions League squad contains no fewer than ten players raised by the club themselves. Indeed the senior side's qualification for the group stage means the club's newest crop of youngsters will take part in the UEFA Youth League – enhancing the prospects of more in-built success in the future. "It's a great initiative from UEFA and a good chance for youth to develop," said Per Ågren, who is in charge of Malmö's community-based work.
Captain Markus Rosenberg, who sealed MFF's play-off triumph with the final goal in last Wednesday's 3–0 second-leg home win against FC Salzburg, told UEFA.com that their progress was "difficult to describe". The achievement was especially poignant for forward Rosenberg, who returned to Malmö in January following a nine-year absence – he had first joined them aged five.
Rosenberg, who scored six times in qualifying for Åge Hareide's team, is the only squad member with past UEFA Champions League experience having figured in Europe's premier club competition with AFC Ajax and SV Werder Bremen. He is not the only local lad, however. The assist for his second goal against Salzburg, for example, came from midfielder Simon Kroon, another alumnus of the MFF youth programme.
Ågren, the club's sporting director between 2011 and 2013, also started as a player in the youth department before becoming a mainstay of the senior side's defence for much of the 1980s. He is confident the next generation can advance along similar lines. "It's great fun for us since we have good youth teams in this age group," he said.
Through the system
Malmö have a long tradition of bringing through their own players, most notably perhaps setting Zlatan Ibrahimović on a path which has taken him to Paris Saint-Germain via various European heavyweights. Though his feats are unlikely to be matched too often, there is every chance MFF can continue to rear international stars of tomorrow. Andreas Georgson, from the youth system, said: "We keep developing all the time. Our scouting has improved and we work with more academies. Everything is just getting better and better."
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