Victoria Sandell Svensson played for Sweden in the last four UEFA European Women's Championship final tournaments and although the striker retired after the 2009 event, she will play a major role in July's finals on home soil.
UEFA Women's EURO 2013, for which tickets go on sale on 14 February, runs from 10 to 28 July in seven Swedish cities and Sandell Svensson, besides being one of three national tournament ambassadors, is working for the local organising committee (LOC) as team services and PR manager. She spoke to UEFA.com about her new position behind the scenes, tournament memories and expectations for freshly appointed Sweden coach Pia Sundhage.
UEFA.com What is your role for the tournament?
Victoria Sandell Svensson: I'm the ambassador for the LOC, and also responsible for teams and team hotels, or can I say I'm responsible for team service – all the teams have me as their first point of contact and I will try to help and answer all the questions they have.
UEFA.com: As somebody who played at a lot of these tournaments, do you think you know what players want?
Sandell Svensson: That was why I got the job. Because it's me, [the organisers] will be able to know beforehand what players and teams want when they are staying in a hotel, for example. There are certainly advantages, but on the other hand it's totally new for me to be on the other side. I've been a player, I've played ten major championships – four EUROs – so it's another thing to be behind the scenes.
When you were a player everything was relatively simple, you just had to go onto the pitch and play, keeping your eyes on the ball for 90 minutes. I knew [the event] was big, but I wasn't aware that so many people were involved. It wasn't a shock, but it's a very big machine to make everything work.
UEFA.com: Will it be strange to be watching rather than playing?
Sandell Svensson: I am getting used to not playing. My last tournament was EURO 2009 in Finland. It's a while ago now, and at the time I'd had enough of football. I got back the desire for football when I was in Germany for the [FIFA Women's] World Cup in 2011. It's going to be alright sitting in the stands. I'm going to be proud of seeing Sweden playing a championship at home, and I hope I have time to enjoy it.
UEFA.com: What do you think of Pia Sundhage's appointment?
Sandell Svensson: They have only had Pia for one game, and that looked quite good, but they aren't just going to win everything because Pia has started. There's a lot of work to be done with the team. [Thomas] Dennerby did a fantastic job with Sweden, now Pia is replacing him, so it will take time to get used to the change and the new way of thinking.
Pia is not going to make drastic changes, like change all the players, but she's going to try new things, new players. She's returned to playing 4-4-2, she's very passionate and she demands a lot of the players, leaders and the Swedish Football Association. I think that's really good.
UEFA.com: For many Lotta Schelin is Sweden's star player. How would you compare yourself with her?
Sandell Svensson: Lotta Schelin is a great player, I think she has developed even more in the last couple of years. Of course you develop all the time. We are not that alike as footballers, she's much faster than me; I was more of a passing player and also a goalscorer. I think Lotta has become more of an all-rounder, more of a team player, and she's very dangerous when she's in the right place.
She's clearly the most important player in the team, but no single player can replace a whole team – the responsibility lies on every player on the pitch. But obviously a lot of the focus will be on her.
UEFA.com: Do you think there will be a lot of pressure on the team because they are playing at home?
Sandell Svensson: We will have to get used to the pressure. But it's great to be able to play at home, it's an advantage, and hopefully we will be able to make use of what they call 'the 12th player' – the spectators. We want it to be a party. I don't think the girls feel there is pressure; besides, it's positive to play on your home ground.
UEFA.com: You played in quite a few Women's EUROs. How has the competition developed?
Sandell Svensson: My first EURO was in '97 when Sweden and Norway organised it together, and it's clearly much bigger now. Back then Sweden and Norway were asked to organise it – today you have to apply. Sweden were picked over the Netherlands. It has clearly developed both on and off the pitch.
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