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Caroline Seger becomes Europe's most capped international footballer

On Tuesday 15 June, Caroline Seger made European football history. With the women's friendly between Sweden and Australia, midfielder Seger played her 215th match for her country to become the most-capped player in Europe.

The 36-year-old captained her side in Tuesday night's goalless draw against Australia, a warm-up ahead of this summer's Olympic tournament.

Seger breaks the previous record of 214 caps jointly held by Birgit Prinz from Germany and her Swedish compatriot and former team-mate, Therese Sjögran, who made a presentation to her to celebrate the occasion.

Caroline Seger on her new record:

"I’m very proud for reaching 215 caps and breaking the record at home in Sweden. It’s very special to overtake the record from Therese Sjögran. It’s my absolute closest friend and receiving flowers from her was special. This is big, of course."

Her 215th appearance comes 16 years after her debut, 1 2-1 defeat by Germany in which she made what she calls "an unspectacular 30-minute appearance".

There is no doubting her long-term impact though, playing in four UEFA’s Women’s EUROs, in 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2017, travelling to three Olympic Games (2008, 2012, 2016) and playing at four FIFA Women’s World Cups (2007, 2011, 2015, 2019) so far.

Cherished memories and major motivation

Seger (right) in action against Australia
Seger (right) in action against AustraliaGetty Images

“Our last match at FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 was a special one," she recalls. "I played my 200th match. "That was a big thing and also, the fact that we won bronze makes this match the most memorable moment of my career so far. This game was very special to me and reaching 200 caps in such a match was amazing.

“It doesn't matter what age you are, 18 or 36, if you're playing at your best level, you will play for the national team. Furthermore, we have a very good federation that supports us players, the national teams, and invests in the women’s game.”

16 years of international experience

With such a long career on the international stage, Seger has seen major developments in European women’s football, having spent time in America, and sees a bright future for the game

"I wish I was 20 again and could play my best years now," she says, "but I'm happy that I've been along for this ride and experienced both ups and downs in women's football.

"My advice for girls is to have a lot of fun along the way. Also, fight hard and believe in yourself. It's going to be tough to be successful, but you have all the possibilities to be and become your very best."

What comes next?

Receiving congratulations from her mother and father (background) after the game
Receiving congratulations from her mother and father (background) after the gameGetty Images

Breaking the record and playing her 215th match for the Swedish national team is no reason for Seger to stop now. On the contrary, two big tournaments are waiting for her, and she has high hopes for both. In a couple of weeks, Seger and the Swedish national team will be travelling to Tokyo for the Olympics and next summer, Sweden will play at UEFA Women’s EURO 2022.

"There's still a gold medal that I would like to win with the national team - that's the only medal I haven't won!" she says.

"I want to continue developing on and off the pitch. I want to feel that I have done everything and feel comfortable with myself with the fact that I have nothing more to prove. So, I still want to reach for the stars."

The UEFA Women’s EURO promises to be the biggest women’s football event in UEFA’s history and the growth of the women’s game.

“People are starting to see the growth of the game," Seger says. "It’s enormous. For fans and for us players, it's going to be one of the biggest tournaments we ever have experienced so far. It just shows how much potential there is in women's football."

See the six Europeans to have reached 200 caps