With 166 caps and 68 goals for Sweden, Victoria Sandell Svensson knows a thing or two about what it takes to succeed on the international stage. Having retired as a player in 2009, she is now discovering all about the demands of organising a major tournament such as UEFA Women's EURO 2013.
"I knew a lot of people were involved in an event like this, but the size of the operation is something I wasn't aware of," the former Blågult striker told UEFA.com. "There's people from UEFA, from the LOC [local organising committee] and from all host cities, and everyone's doing a fantastic job. It's awesome to be on this side of things."
When Sweden was selected to host the competition, Sandell Svensson was soon recruited by the organisers to work within team services, liaising with the 12 competing nations on matters like accommodation and travel. "We were awarded the finals more than a thousand days ago, so it has been a long process of preparation," she said.
"Then, suddenly, two to three weeks before the start, one began to wonder where all the time had gone. And now we suddenly realise it will all be over soon – a strange feeling."
Sandell Svensson featured at her first continental finals in 1997 and her last 12 years later. In between, she was a key member of the team that finished runners-up at the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup. In other words, there can be few individuals better qualified to comment on the action so far at Sweden 2013.
"Every match is much tighter these days," said the ex-Djurgårdens IF DFF player. "Some years ago, perhaps there would have been larger winning margins; now we see teams that were less fancied – like Spain – measuring up to the best nations."
With the group stage done and dusted, the focus is on the quarter-finals, which take place on Sunday and Monday. "From now on every team has to raise its game," explained Sandell Svensson. "It's do or die. All players and teams will do just that and we'll see some fantastic football. The big names will take an even greater responsibility, from goalkeepers and defenders up to the match-winning forwards."
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