Carlgren thrives thanks to family ties

Sweden goalkeeper Patrik Carlgren has a special support network at the U21 EURO in the shape of 20 family and friends. UEFA.com caught up with them in Olomouc.

Patrik Carlgren enjoys Sweden's victory against Italy
Patrik Carlgren enjoys Sweden's victory against Italy ©AFP/Getty Images

It was an hour before kick-off and, standing in his yellow shirt outside the Ander Stadium, Ulf Carlgren looked like just one other member of the small army of Sweden fans bringing so much noise and colour to this U21 EURO.

In truth, he was in Olomouc as part of a much more exclusive club – the 20-strong band of family and friends here in the Czech Republic to support his son, goalkeeper Patrick Carlgren, in Sweden's Group B meeting with England.

A professional footballer himself in the 1980s, when he played for Göteborg and Brage, Ulf knows all about the pressures of playing the game, but as he told UEFA.com, watching his son is much more nerve-wracking. It is one thing a normal fan feeling anxiety – something else for a family member.

"I am really nervous," said the one-time centre-back. "I don't talk to anybody for the 90 minutes. It is worse now – when you are playing it is for yourself, it is different. We talk after every match to discuss things and I am very proud of him but I get really nervous."

Ulf and Maria Carlgren, father and stepmother of the Sweden goalkeeper
Ulf and Maria Carlgren, father and stepmother of the Sweden goalkeeper©Getty Images

For AIK goalkeeper Carlgren, this is the first taste of an international tournament and his family contingent included his four brothers, girlfriend Charlotte and mother Susanne, along with friends.

"I'm very proud and always will be very proud," added his mother. "We have supported him through his whole career since he was a boy. We always watch and read everything about him."

Patrick's parents might be gripped by nerves on match day but, in the words of his stepmother Maria, the rest of the family fan club – who joined the Sweden supporters in a yellow-and-blue procession to the Ander Stadium on Sunday – get behind him in a different way.

"His brothers and their girlfriends make a lot of noise," she said. They had plenty to cheer when Sweden came back to beat Italy in their opening game but there was a disappointing denouement against England as Carlgren punched out a late corner and Jesse Lingard returned the ball with a vengeance. Carlgren got a hand to the shot on its way into the net and his immediate reaction – an angry swipe of the air – summed up his frustration.

Highlights: Sweden 0-1 England
Highlights: Sweden 0-1 England

"I can't put it into words," he told UEFA.com afterwards. "We defended so well for the whole game and they had two or three shots on goal. It is unlucky. I got a hand to it."

There was the consolation of some comforting words from Charlotte on his way off the pitch and he admitted that, for a young player, such a support network is important. "I love my family and it is fantastic to have them here. We get two three hours off each day, so I can go and meet them then."

And is there any particular advice from his father? "My dad tells me 'have fun and enjoy what you're doing'. To have him here is lovely."

As it was, the family party had to head back home on Monday and will only return if Sweden reach the final. It will not be easy for the Swedes, now third in Group B, but Ulf Carlgren, for one, is not giving up hope. "Sweden are a team – they play for each other," he said. Sticking together, just like the Carlgrens.

Patrik Carlgren is consoled by his girlfriend after the loss to England
Patrik Carlgren is consoled by his girlfriend after the loss to England©UEFA.com
Patrik Carlgren is consoled by his girlfriend after the loss to England
Patrik Carlgren is consoled by his girlfriend after the loss to England©UEFA.com
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