Tony Gustavsson is hoping to claim his first international title as a club coach when he leads Tyresö FF in the UEFA Women's Champions League final next Thursday – but it will not be the only major medal in his collection.
Two years ago the former coach of Scandinavian men's teams Ytterhogdals IK, Degerfors IF, Hammarby IF and Kongsvinger IL was approached by United States women's manager Pia Sundhage to join his fellow Swede on the coaching staff for the Olympic tournament in the UK. Gustavsson agreed and by August 2012 had tasted victory in the gold medal match against Japan at Wembley.
"You know, life is a little bit about coincidences," Gustavsson told UEFA.com about the initial approach. "And I guess also networking and contacts. I was available on the market, I didn't have a job at the time. I got a text from Pia saying, 'Hey, it's Pia Sundhage. I have a question, can I please get your email?'
"I hadn't talked to her before. She sent me an email saying, 'Hey, do you want to be my assistant going into the Olympics in London?' Then a smiley, 'Going for gold!' And of course I was interested. I called her, talked to her, met her.
"The reason why she asked me, I got the answer later, was that a friend of hers that she'd talked to in the Algarve, working for the Swedish federation, recommended me. She needed an assistant, and she put in some good words for me, and Pia asked and there I was."
Following the Olympics, Gustavsson was appointed by Tyresö and by the close of 2012 had clinched their first Swedish title, earning the European debut that has taken them to the Lisbon final with VfL Wolfsburg. Sundhage herself is now back in Sweden as national coach, and Gustavsson says he learned a lot from the charismatic technician.
"I think one of the most important things I learned is to not always take yourself too seriously," said the 40-year-old Gustavsson. "I'm a very ambitious coach. I want to control things, but sometimes you need [to] also take a step back, laugh a little bit and have perspective of things.
"The bottom line is it's all about the journey. Even though you want to win the title, you must understand that it's all about the journey. So I think that's one of the things that I learnt from her."
Having experienced the Olympic atmosphere, including the 80,000 crowd for the final, is also a huge help in Gustavsson's European quest with Tyresö. "[With] that Olympic gold medal, part of me had really grown as a coach, because it was all or nothing. Same now, going into the final. It's all or nothing. That 90 minutes. And I know what it takes to win that game and I have players [who know] what it takes to win that game. And I think definitely we will be very close to reaching our maximum potential in the final."
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