As Sweden prepare for their opening game at UEFA Women's EURO 2022, Elin Rubensson is looking forward to one of football's ultimate experiences.
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She has done it more than 70 times already, but Elin Rubensson cannot wait to pull on the Sweden shirt at UEFA Women's EURO.
The 29-year-old Rubensson is looking forward to representing her country at a finals once again, having been a member of the squad last time around in 2017.
"It’s the greatest thing you can do as an elite footballer," she says. "It’s simply epic to participate in championships, to put on the national team shirt. It’s hard to put it into words, but it’s powerful."
Putting in the hours
Reflecting on the journey, which saw her make her international debut back in 2012, Rubensson is clear on her advice for players looking to follow in her footsteps.
"To get there, it’s all about practice, practice, practice,” she explains. "There are no shortcuts and the most important thing is to have fun along the way. That’s the way it is. So, practise and have fun along the way."
That last piece of advice is something the experienced midfielder would emphasise to her younger self given the chance, particularly at a major tournament.
"In this environment, there’s a lot of pressure from the outside, pressure from the inside, and it’s easy to put that on yourself too – you should to a certain point – but sometimes you have to just say to yourself, ‘I’ve made it all the way here, enjoy it’. It won’t last forever, so maybe that’s something I would have said to my younger self; enjoy everything that you are experiencing."
Becoming a mother
Having paused her playing career due to pregnancy and giving birth to a baby boy, Rubensson is as aware as anyone of how circumstances can change. She counts herself lucky to have had strong support in her return to the game, regaining fitness and returning to the international set-up.
"My coaches, my family, my husband do everything for me to succeed," she says. "I returned from my pregnancy and he’s been on paternity leave every day since. Those are the people who make it possible for me to perform well. I’m also in a fantastic club right now [BK Häcken], with a great coach [Robert Vilahamn].
"I wouldn’t say [becoming a mother] was an obstacle; it was obviously a special thing, but it was something that I had to make it through and make it back, which was a tough thing, but also amazing to be able to do it."
Back on the pitch and at the top of the game, she is appearing at her second UEFA Women's EURO and will savour every moment. Expectations are high for England 2022, not least for last year's Olympic finalists Sweden, who meet Portugal and Switzerland after the Netherlands.
"I think it will be the greatest championship to date," she says. "It’s in England, and in our current team, we know how to make it all the way, so it will be incredibly exciting. Women’s football has grown at a fast rate in recent years, the interest is great and it will be incredible."