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Guidetti backs Sweden for U21 success

"We are going to go there and win it, 100%," Sweden's John Guidetti told UEFA.com as he pondered this summer's finals, and a meeting with his father's home team, Italy.

John Guidetti (centre) blows a kiss after scoring in qualifying against Malta
John Guidetti (centre) blows a kiss after scoring in qualifying against Malta ©Domenic Aquilina

When Sweden play Italy in their 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship opener on 18 June it will be a special occasion for everyone in the Blågult camp, but particularly striker John Guidetti.

While Sweden will be contesting their first fixture in the final tournament for six years, Guidetti, if selected, will line up in Olomouc against a country with whom he has close family ties. "I am always going to feel something for Italy since my father is Italian and my grandfather was Italian," he told UEFA.com.

"When I was younger and Sweden got knocked out of a group stage it was Italy that I supported. Growing up Roberto Baggio and Christian Vieri were my big heroes and the first big game I went to was a Lazio match the year Sven-Göran Eriksson won Serie A with them."

Watch Sweden-England epic semi-final
Watch Sweden-England epic semi-final

The encounter with the Azzurrini is the first of three in a testing section also featuring England – the nation that dashed Sweden's hopes on home soil in a 2009 semi-final penalty shoot-out after a thrilling 3-3 draw in Gothenburg – and Portugal.

"It's going to be tough, but we can do it," said the forward on loan at Celtic FC from Manchester City FC. "[In the play-offs] we beat France, the U20 world champions with amazing players. We lost 2-0 away and then won 4-1 at home, so everything is possible."

Celebrating a European goal for Celtic
Celebrating a European goal for Celtic©Getty Images

Does that include Sweden lifting the trophy for the first time? Guidetti thinks so. "We are going to go there and win it, 100%," he explained. "We have some players that are fantastic prospects and we have a great group. The team always beats the individual and our team is very strong."

Guidetti, who turns 23 next month, is one of the elder statesmen of the squad. He made his debut as teenager in June 2010, shortly before Håkan Ericson was appointed coach, while his 16 caps since owe much to the fact that between mid-April 2012 and late November 2013 he did not play competitively due to a virus caused by eating a piece of infected chicken and a nerve problem in his right leg arising from it.

Sweden 'confident' after finals draw
Sweden 'confident' after finals draw

Getting to the Czech Republic is a reward for the work hard Ericson has put in, Sweden having lost in the play-offs to Italy for a place at the 2013 finals in Israel. "He's a great manager," said Guidetti, Sweden's joint-top scorer in qualifying with four goals.

"He was under a bit of criticism before, but the players always stood by him and we knew what he wanted to do. We're so happy for him because he deserves this. He listens to us and we listen to him − it works both ways. He's very fair and very open, very honest and everybody likes him."