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Sunday
Nov062011

Freddie...Freddie Ljungberg

BY KRISTONEL ELWE / @superswe

I still remember it like it was yesterday. The sun was shining, the kids were out playing football and the school day was over. I went to the football pitch just outside of the school territory to join up with the other kids who were already playing. We split up the teams, restarted the game that was going on and started playing. Twenty minutes a half.

The game was even and by the end of the second half the score was 2-2. Then I got the ball on the left flank, dribbled my way past one defender and scored what would be the game winning goal with just a couple of minutes left. I’ve always loved playing footie and celebrated in a manner like I’d just won the World Cup. A kid from the opposition team came up to me after my celebration and asked me “who do you think you are?” I didn’t give him an answer, but while I was running back to my own half I turned around and said “Freddie…Freddie Ljungberg.”

Two weeks earlier Arsenal had won the FA Cup final after two wonder goals by Ray Parlour and Freddie. As you all know the year was 2002 and it was the season I started supporting The Gunners. English football was massive in Sweden and everyone had their own favorite team. Liverpool and Manchester United dominated, but Arsenal was well represented as well.

I was never the guy who wanted to choose a team just for the sake of choosing one. For me, it just happened. Funnily enough, I can still remember the first time I saw Arsenal play on the telly in our small living room. It was against Ipswich Town at Portman Road. Freddie went on to score in the first five minutes and Henry made sure not to throw away the victory when he scored a penalty in the second half. I still don’t remember why it became Arsenal, but after that game it seemed like fate had chosen the Gunners for me.

Every time I played FIFA, Arsenal had to be the team I chose. I can still remember seeing the back of David Seaman’s shirt at every goal kick I made in the game. After a while I started watching more and more games and suddenly there was no way out of it. But it wasn’t until that FA Cup final I knew I was Arsenal through and through.

The sun was shining in Sweden as much as it was in Cardiff on that very day. I remember myself nail biting through the whole game and jumping up and down like a maniac at every missed opportunity. Then Ray Parlour decided to put Arsenal in the lead with a wonder goal. But the game wasn’t over until Freddie made sure it was. He made John Terry look like a fool and curled in a beautiful goal that will never leave my memory.

Four days later we went on to win the Double in Manchester and as an Arsenal fan it couldn’t get any better. It was probably the best summer I’ve ever had and one that changed my life in so many ways. If it wouldn’t have been for Freddie, I never know what might’ve happened. But his red hair, his flair and his passion made me the Arsenal supporter I am today and will forever be. 

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