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Allbäck passion still burns for Örgryte

Published: Thursday 18 December 2008, 15.51CET
A delegation of Örgryte IS fans drove to Denmark to persuade Marcus Allbäck to leave FC København for the Gothenburg club earlier this year, and the Swedish striker has not looked back since answering their pleas.
by Sujay Dutt
Allbäck passion still burns for Örgryte
Marcus Allbäck retired from international football after UEFA EURO 2008™ ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 18 December 2008, 15.51CET

Allbäck passion still burns for Örgryte

A delegation of Örgryte IS fans drove to Denmark to persuade Marcus Allbäck to leave FC København for the Gothenburg club earlier this year, and the Swedish striker has not looked back since answering their pleas.

It was Easter 2008 and Marcus Allbäck's contract with FC København was about to expire. The Swedish striker had UEFA EURO 2008™ to look forward to but was still considering his club future, with FCK keen to keep him and any number of overseas leagues looking tempting – until two busloads of Örgryte IS fans drove to the Danish capital to convince him to return to Gothenburg.

'Emotional day'
Allbäck was København's top scorer but the dedication of those supporters persuaded the 35-year-old to rejoin the side he had left eight years earlier, even though Örgryte had been relegated to Sweden's second-tier Superettan in 2006. Allbäck could not resist the lure of club where he took his first steps in the game. "I'd heard rumours about Örgryte fans coming to Copenhagen for a league match," he told uefa.com, still shaking his head in disbelief. "They were aged from ten to 70 and they started singing [my name] an hour before kick-off. Of course, that was a hugely emotional day for me. The fans' efforts had an impact on my decision, definitely."

Family institution
The fact that Örgryte are almost an Allbäck family institution must have helped too, as the former Lyngby FC, AS Bari, SC Heerenveen, Aston Villa FC and FC Hansa Rostock forward made his choice. Marcus's father Stefan, his uncle Dan and his grandfather Allan all represented the club in years gone by, while Marcus himself has been an Örgryte member since the day he was born. And just like his father, Marcus phoned the club's offices immediately after the birth of his own two children to sign them up as members.

Örgryte memories
Allbäck fired 30 goals in 74 matches for Sweden before his international retirement in the wake of UEFA EURO 2008™, but despite all his success his football outlook has always been coloured by the blue and red of Örgryte. Though most observers would agree the story of the 1980s in Sweden was the dominance of Örgryte's city rivals IFK Göteborg, who won four league titles and two UEFA Cups, Allbäck remembers things differently. "We won the league in 1985, in the middle of those IFK years," he said. "That league title saved the whole 80s for us."

Perfect ending
Recently named as a local ambassador for the city of Gothenburg during next summer's UEFA European Under-21 Championship, Allbäck marked his return home against Jönköpings Södra IF on 30 July, much to the delight of family and friends. "My grandad, who's 85, was overjoyed. Not only that I was back but also because of the happy ending," he said. Örgryte clinched promotion to the top-flight Allsvenskan in their very last home match of the season, beating FC Väsby United 3-0 in October to end their two-year exile. Fittingly, Allbäck struck two of their goals.

Last updated: 18/12/08 19.27CET

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