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Star student Källström reflects on UEFA MIP success

Former Sweden international Kim Källström was among the graduates from the UEFA Academy's recent MIP course for ex-players. We learn more about his classroom experience and what comes next…

Källström (centre) with UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin (left) and Jean-Jacques Gouguet, president of the UEFA MIP Scientific Committee
Källström (centre) with UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin (left) and Jean-Jacques Gouguet, president of the UEFA MIP Scientific Committee UEFA

Kim Källström’s career saw him win consecutive league titles with Djurgården in his native Sweden before moving to France, where he represented first Rennes and then Olympique Lyonnais. During six years with Lyon, the elegant midfielder won numerous honours, including the club’s first ever league and cup double in 2008, as well as reaching the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in 2010. He subsequently had spells with Spartak Moscow and Grasshopper Club Zürich, before returning to his roots with Djurgården for a final season in 2017.

His international career spanned 15 years and 131 appearances, including four UEFA EUROs (2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016) and the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Despite his depth of experience and well-travelled background, taking the third edition of the UEFA Executive Master for International Players (MIP) proved to be an eye-opener for Källström, who counted fellow former stars like Kaká, Andrey Arshavin and Kolo Touré as classmates. Previous graduates include Youri Djorkaeff, Gaizka Mendieta and Gilberto Silva.

Game time with MIP classmates
Game time with MIP classmatesUEFA

Here he discusses the challenges the group faced during the course, which was extended by a year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how he intends to apply new knowledge and insights to his second career.

Did you develop a team spirit within the MIP group?

Yes, 100%. I can only speak for our edition but, obviously, with all the obstacles we have faced – and, obviously, COVID-19 being the biggest one – for sure that has created a togetherness, because I think it would be quite easy for some of us to drop out.

And I think everybody has had that feeling one or two times – 'are we actually going to finish this?', we did two sessions, then we didn’t meet for over a year. When we got back together, it was a really strong feeling that we were going to finish this together.

I think we have all been brought up in a team sport, so when we meet each other like this – this is just a different type of team. So, we’re all in this kind of team spirit situation.

Is it scary to feel as though you are going back to school?

When we started this, you didn’t really know what was expected from you, and it was a new journey. So, 100%, it was really scary, but these three years, the confidence that has been built, the knowledge we have gained, and I think just being able to stand up and speak in front of others in a way that I probably couldn’t do three years ago, all that’s there.

I think it’s a lot about knowledge, but also about confidence, it’s about camaraderie, it’s about expanding your networks, but also getting an understanding for what football really is because I think, as a player, you’re really narrow-minded. You're really black and white in your thinking, and now you widen this. I think that has had a huge impact on us as future people working in the football industry.

In the more familiar surroundings of Swedish yellow at EURO 2012
In the more familiar surroundings of Swedish yellow at EURO 2012Getty Images

What surprised you the most during the course?

How much bigger the football industry is than what I thought. How much bigger, how much deeper, how many more people are involved, how many different roles there are in football. It’s not just players and coaches and some referees – it’s so huge. How people work together, but the depth and the broad scope of football.

What are you most proud of?

That I finished. That I actually managed to get the degree, and I think I did pretty well. So, I’m very happy with my grade, I’m very happy with what I’ve done, it feels really good.

And finally, what comes next for you?

I am working with the Swedish FA now as a consultant for trying to develop a national training centre. And the fun part with that for me is that was actually my MIP report, so I actually happened to continue my work with my report.

It’s something I’ve been working on for a couple of years, and I think that the federation really bought into the idea that we need to do this. So, I’m really happy with that.

Källström also works as a pundit on Swedish TV
Källström also works as a pundit on Swedish TVGetty Images

Applications are now open for the next edition of the UEFA MIP. Former players can learn more and apply here.

What does the UEFA Academy offer for non-players?

The UEFA Academy provides opportunities for professionals working in the football industry to raise their game off the pitch through dedicated educational and management training.

Its wide range of courses help executives and specialists, including doctors and lawyers as well as professional players, develop their skills to gain a footing in the administrative side of the sport.

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