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Sven Goran Eriksson, England Football Coach
Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

DAVID FROST:

Well for as long as there's been an England national football team it's been managed and coached by an Englishman, national pride seemed to be at stake, however all of that has changed now, last month the first foreigner ever to be appointed to the job took up his post Sven Goran Eriksson faces the first test in a few weeks, the friendly against Spain and soon after that England play Finland in the next World Cup qualifier. We'll be talking to Sven in just a moment after this word from Neil Bennett.

[FILM CLIP]

DAVID FROST:

Well Sven is here right now, a very warm welcome.

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

Thank you very much.

DAVID FROST:

Actually you've had a very warm welcome at all the games you've been to, haven't you?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

Everywhere and I'm surprised because I knew that some people don't like foreigner as manager of a national team but everywhere I went very warm welcome and I like it very much.

DAVID FROST:

And these matches, you've seen a lot, 12 matches since you got here at least, 12 or 13

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

Yes.

DAVID FROST:

You've seen most of the potential players, but one thing, how does, as you watch it now, how does the current Premier League compare with the Italian League Seria A?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

It's very good, it's a very good standard on the football, of the football and I saw many good games, now and then you see also not so good football but I mean it's normal in you can't see good matches always but there are many, many, many good young players in this country so I think that we will go, we will have a very good national team also, for sure.

DAVID FROST:

Yes and not young players, despite the number of foreign footballers over here, I mean when you watch Chelsea there's only two people playing who can play for your team, play for England or sometimes one, I mean does that make it, well it must make it a bit more difficult?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

Yes it is of course but it's the same problem all over today, I mean even in Italy where I came from the problem is the same, there are many, many foreigners playing and of course it's a pity if you want to have a very good national team. But I think it's not only negative because those foreign players they come with something different in football and I think the young players in England or where it is, they can, they can use that, they can learn from that.

DAVID FROST:

Who are some of the young players here that have impressed you?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

Well I don't know if it's right of me to, to pick out names, I think I will wait with that until we pick out the squad.

DAVID FROST:

I can understand that, one name though you have mentioned and it seems as though you have tacitly decided that David Beckham will be your captain?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

No, David Beckham will be in the team that's for sure, in the squad that's for sure, if he will be the captain I don't know, we'll see when we come to the other, but he was the captain the last game they played in Italy and I think he did a good job.

DAVID FROST:

But you haven't made that decision yet?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

No, no, no, I haven't made any decisions so far.

DAVID FROST:

And in fact Franz Beckenbauer said this week this week that David Beckham he thought was the best player in the world, is that possible?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

Not bad, said good, Beckenbauer, well he's among them of course and I mean he's wrong and he already has a lot of experience from international football thanks to Manchester United and thanks to the national team, English national team.

DAVID FROST:

And in terms of the team, you said 'We must first select the players and then decided the tactics'. So the players come first, you don't, you don't choose players to go with a prior tactical plan, you choose the players and then work out the tactics?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

I, many years ago when I was younger I, I did it the other way, I chose the tactic and then I put in the players but I've changed that idea, I think the players are the most important and you have to pick up the best players you can find in this country and then you can choose the tactic, how to play, if you play it, two, two attackers, three attackers, or whatever you do, the most important is, are the players.

DAVID FROST:

And in fact you said in the second half of that quote, be it 4-4-2, 4-5-1, or even 4-3-3 but in all the cases you quoted there was a back four, do you believe in that?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

I believe in that, I always played like that, just very few times I, I have chosen to play three central defenders but I think we will start with four.

DAVID FROST:

Start with four?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

Yes.

DAVID FROST: And I mean at the moment we are rated 17th I think in the last Fifa ratings and so on, 17th, do you think that over the past 50 years, with the exception of 1966 I guess, that English football, when it comes to the national and international level has under-performed compared to the ability there is here?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

Well you talked about the ranking list and see the name England in that place I don't like that of course, in England it's a very big football country, extremely big and I think England should be together with France, Germany, Spain and Europe and I hope that we will come up there.

DAVID FROST:

And you've got an urgent problem which is the World Cup qualifier on March 24th?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

Yes.

DAVID FROST:

You mentioned young players earlier, presumably although you can blood more and more young players maybe for the next Euro presumably with this so close and so vital you'll still go for a mix of the, of old and young, experience, will you? Or are you going to go out all out for an all-young team?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

I haven't decide yet because the big question is, as I told you, there are many young good players in this country, the big question I think is are they ready to play international top football or not? And that's why I'm going around the country to see so many football games as I can and I am still three weeks before we pick out the first squad for the friendly against Spain so I hope to learn more about the young players, about the older players of course and then we see in three weeks.

DAVID FROST:

In three weeks, yes, and you have stern rules about alcohol I gather, is that true?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

No, stern rules, but I think if you will play for England for the meals you don't need to drink wine or beer or whatever it is, we are together for playing football for England, we're not together for other things.

DAVID FROST:

But do you like all your players to be teetotallers?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

No I mean I'm a Swede, I'm used to alcohol myself of course, as we are in these countries. But I mean if you are a professional footballer you, you have to behave like a professional footballer especially if you want to play for England, it's very easy.

DAVID FROST:

And if you, if you want to manage or coach England of course you do have one other occupational hazard of course which is the press, as you know that Graham Taylor ended up as a vegetable, a turnip, Glen Hoddle ended up as a religious fanatic, according to the papers and so on, are you prepared for that at some stage, that the honeymoon might be over?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

Yeah, I think I have the honeymoon until we play the first game then maybe it's over. No I know that of course if you play bad, football badly you're going to be very criticised but it's the same all over the world. What I shall appreciate is that my private life should be left a little bit aside.

DAVID FROST:

Well you see that's Britain too of course.

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

I know.

DAVID FROST:

When you go with your girlfriend to the theatre there you are in all the papers?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

Yes I know, I know.

DAVID FROST:

They don't do that in Italy do they?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

A little bit more respectful of private life they have in Italy, yes.

DAVID FROST:

And will we make it, will we make it to Korea and Japan for the next World Cup, will we qualify Sven?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

I hope so and I think so, I think we have a very good chance but of course it's, it's important to win against Spain and it's important that we, we're going to win the two games against Finland and Albania, in other way it will be very, very difficult.

DAVID FROST:

And if we do qualify we have a problem, all the European teams don't we, that the season ends only two or three weeks before they've got to be playing in Korea or Japan, so for all the European teams this is a tough World Cup isn't it?

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

It is but I will take that problem. I hope we have that problem.

DAVID FROST:

I hope we do too. Sven thank you very much.

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

Thank you.

DAVID FROST:

It's been an absolute delight.

SVEN GORAN ERIKSSON:

Thank you for inviting me.

DAVID FROST:

We look forward to inviting you back very soon, thank you very much indeed. Good luck, good luck to the man we've just been talking to.

END

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